What to do in the Cinque Terre this December

December is decidedly off-season in the Cinque Terre, but catch some nice weather and you’re in for a treat! Nearly empty streets (with the exception of locals and the rare tour group) allow visitors to appreciate the true beauty of the Cinque Terre.

Visiting the Cinque Terre in the off-season isn’t for everyone; if you’re hoping to hit the shops and choose from a plethora of restaurants, you’re going to be disappointed. The off-season is the time when locals catch up on R&R after a long peak-season; many businesses close (some on rotation, others for the entire off-season). However, if you come seeking tranquillity and low-key explorations, you’ll be rewarded, big time.

I will soon be posting an off-season schedule for open restaurants, bars & cafes in the Comune di Riomaggiore. Stay tuned!

For those of you planning to visit the Cinque Terre this December, check out these scheduled events. I’ve highlighted what I think is of the most interest to visitors and I will be updating as various events are announced later on:

December 5th through 9th in Monterosso:

Saturday 12/8:

  • from 2pm: Living nativity scene (with the birth of Jesus at 6pm)
  • 6:30pm: Religious procession

Sunday 12/13:

  • 3pm: Religious procession

Saturday, December 8th in Manarola:

10:30am: Eco-friendly Christmas ornament workshop for children. Free, but advance reservations are required. Email: cea@parconazionale5terre.it

5pm: Candle lit procession on the hillside where the village’s nativity scene is located

5:30pm: Lighting of Manarola’s nativity scene with fireworks

Throughout the day there will be a Christmas craft fair as well as a refreshment stand starting at 2pm.



Off-season opening and closing dates for Riomaggiore businesses

The off-season has arrived and many local businesses have already taken advantage of the slight lull and have closed for some much needed R&R.  It can be tricky for those planning to visit in the off-season to know which restaurants, bars & cafés will be open (heck, it’s even tricky for us locals to know and keep track!).  I’ve created this cheat sheet so you’ll know what to find open during your visit to Riomaggiore this off-season.  Keep in mind that *in theory* there should always be at least one bar and one restaurant open during the off-season to accommodate visitors and locals.

Like many things in Italy, the following list is elastic (read: not set in stone) and I will be amending it as new information is given to me or changes are made (so be sure to check back).


Dau Cila:  Open until December 31st with the exception of their weekly day of closure on Mondays, closed starting in January (precise date still not known) until February 28th

Il Grottino: Closed from October 31st to March 7th

La Grotta: Closed from October 31st to March 7th

La Lampara:  Open until January 7th, closed on Tuesdays, plans to reopen March 1st

Osteria Maitè: Closed from the 11th to the 26th of December

Rio Bistrot: Closed for the month of November

Ripa del Sole: Closed from November 13th to March 12th

Trattoria Via dell’Amore: Open but with plans to close for two weeks in January or February, closed on Wednesdays, Christmas Eve and Christmas day

Veciu Muin:  Will remain open except for their weekly day of closure on Wednesdays

Grocery markets

Alimentari Franca:  Will remain open 7 days a week from 8am to 8pm for the month of November (opening days and hours for other months are still TBD)

Coop 5Terre*:  Will remain open 7 days a week (with closure mid-day) for the month of November (opening days and hours for other months are still TBD)

*There are two Coop 5Terre locations in Riomaggiore (both on the main street).  If one is closed try checking the other!

Take-away shops

Costevé: Closed from November 1st to February 28th

Da Paolino: Closed from November 12th to March 30th

Il Pescato Cucinato: Closed from November 2nd to March 15th

Mamma Mia: Closed from November 5th to March 1st

Faina e Fugassa: Open only on weekends in November and December, closed from January 6th to March 6th

K&Pris Pizzeria: Closed from the 15th to the 22nd of January

Siamo Fritti: Unknown at this time


GelateRio: Closed for the off-season

Gelateria Sottozero: Closed from November 10th to March 14th

Gelateria Zenzero:  Closed from November 10th through March 8th

Old School:  Closed for the off-season

*Unlike other countries, Italians think of ice cream as being a seasonal treat so it’s quite normal for gelaterie to be open only during the warmer months of the year.


A Piè de Ma Bar & Vini: Strictly a seasonal bar, it will reopen for peak-season 2018

Bar Centrale: Open until December 16th with weekly day of closure on Mondays, they will reopen in February (precise date TBD)

Bar O’Netto: Closed from November 6th to December 6th, starting December 7th their weekly day of closure is Thursday

Bar Stazione: Open until January 22nd with Tuesday being the weekly day of closure, closed for holiday from January 23rd to February 13th

Fuori Rotta: Unknown at this time

Il Maggiore: Closed from November 6th to 9th, open from November 10th until January with Wednesday being their weekly day of closure, they will close in January (precise date TBD)

La Conchiglia: Strictly a seasonal bar, it will reopen around the 20th of March (precise date TBD)

La Zorza: Closed from November 16th to December 23rd and from January 9th to March 15th

Nonna Vittoria:  Closed starting November 12th, reopens January 15th

Vertical:  Closed for the off-season minus sporadic weekend openings


Panificio Rosy:  Closed from November 5th to December 20th*

*In the meantime, you can pick up fresh bread at the grocery markets (fresh bread is kept behind the counter)

I hope you’ve found this information helpful! Enjoy the peace and quiet of the off-season.







Off-season trains and weekly passes in the Cinque Terre

Today is November 2nd and the off-season in the Cinque Terre has officially arrived.  Locals are breathing a collective sigh of relief after working nonstop for the past 7+ months.


The Cinque Terre Express (with trains every half hour and a flat-rate of €4 per ticket) is only in effect during the peak-season.  Starting in November we go back to the “normal” schedule (read: with less frequent trains) and pre-Express rates for tickets (read: a significant savings for those traveling by train).  During the off-season it’s also possible to buy the weekly pass (abbonamento settimanale) for the Cinque Terre trains, even for non-residents. These passes include unlimited train travel on regional trains from Monday to Sunday.

Weekly rail pass rates


La Spezia Centrale to Monterosso: €15

La Spezia Centrale to Levanto: €18.50

Riomaggiore to Monterosso: €11.10

Riomaggiore to Levanto: €13.10

While it *is* possible to purchase these tickets in advance online on the official TrenItalia website, it’s a pain and anything but a smooth process (oftentimes there are glitches that won’t allow you to continue).  My advice is to purchase your weekly pass once you’re here in Italy (you can purchase passes at any TrenItalia counter, even before reaching the Cinque Terre).

A few important things to note about the weekly passes:

  • You will need to write your first and last name on your pass and have valid ID with you when the controller asks for it.
  • The weekly passes are valid from Monday to Sunday, not seven days from the date of purchase.  No matter what day of the week you purchase your pass, it will still expire at 11:59pm on Sunday.  If you are staying in the Cinque Terre for dates that bridge Sunday (for example, from Friday to Tuesday) do the math to see if it’s worthwhile to purchase the weekly pass.

During the off-season, trains aren’t nearly as frequent as when the Cinque Terre Express schedule is in effect.  Sometimes that means there can be a two hour gap between trains!  For this reason, I recommend picking up a pocket-size train schedule from one of the Tourist Information offices (at the train stations in the Cinque Terre, Levanto or La Spezia Centrale) so that you can plan your day around the trains and not waste time sitting at the station.

I hope this information is helpful!

Happy travels,