[Updated for 2022] PARKING: A great alternative for those driving to the Cinque Terre

TIP: Staying in the Cinque Terre?  First, check with your host to see if they offer or if they can help you arrange nearby parking for your stay.  If not, keep reading for details on where to park in nearby La Spezia.  

You may or may not know that arrival by car to the Cinque Terre can be a bit hairy and anything but convenient.  The roads are very narrow and winding, parking is extremely limited and quite expensive, there’s a pretty high risk of getting a ticket (if you accidentally enter the ZTL zones or park where it’s not allowed) and the historical centers of the villages are pedestrian-only.

My advice?  Ditch the car before hitting up the Cinque Terre.  If that’s not feasible, you can do the next best thing and park it at the Park Centro Stazione underground parking garage at the La Spezia Centrale train station.

Current published rates for Park Centro Stazione for 2022 are €1.50 per hour from 8am to 8pm and €1.00 per hour from 8pm to 8am. That means the daily rate (for a full 24 hours) is €30.

This parking garage, thanks to its recent construction, is pretty avant-garde for these parts with an elevator that will take you directly to the station, restrooms, 64 closed-circuit cameras to monitor the garage, PIN code access (to both the restrooms and the garage in nocturnal hours) and full automation. Of course, you’ll still want to follow common sense rules of thumb like locking things up and not leaving valuables in sight.

The underground parking garage actually has two entrances:

  • The -1 level is accessed by Via Paleocapa, 7 or latitude: 44.110633 | longitude: 9.815174
  • The -2 level is accessed by Piazzetta Ancona or latitude: 44.110692 | longitude: 9.814421

There are automated signs near each entrance indicating how many spaces are still available for that level. If one level is full, be sure to check the other entrance to see if that level is full, too.

LA SPEZIA PARKING photo credit: ATC La Spezia

If you’re a planner and don’t like the uncertainty of showing up and hoping to find a space (believe me, I get you) you might want to look into booking a space at a private garage just a few blocks (circa 200 meters) from the station:

Private Parking Le 5 Terre La Spezia

Via Migliari, 15 (La Spezia)

latitude: 44.110141 | longitude: 9.817427

Keep in mind that they have only 10 spaces available and it’s mandatory to book and pay online in advance (don’t just try and turn up). The 2022 daily rates range from €10 to €38 (depening on the season). Do keep in mind that they don’t offer hourly rates. You can arrive any time after 10am (you’ll be provided with an access code after you’ve booked) and you’ll need to retrieve your car no later than 10am on your day of departure. Heads up: If you plan to leave later in the day, you’ll need to book & pay for an extra day.

Wherever you decide to park, afterwards you can hop on the Cinque Terre Express train to the Cinque Terre.  To reach the Cinque Terre villages from the La Spezia Centrale train station, travel time is as little as…

  • Riomaggiore: 7 minutes
  • Manarola: 10 minutes
  • Corniglia: 14 minutes
  • Vernazza: 18 minutes
  • Monterosso: 22 minutes

Download the TrenItalia app in advance so you can purchase train tickets on the fly (like I do!), or if you want to plan things out in advance you can check the timetables and purchase tickets online on the official TrenItalia website here.  If you don’t mind standing in potentially long lines you can also wait and purchase your tickets directly at the station.

Want a Plan B (or C) option in case the garage is full when you turn up? Read my blog post detailing parking for free at the La Spezia Migliarina station here. If you’re not a fan of streetside parking, check out my post on two other public payment parking garages in La Spezia.

Buon viaggio!

The PSA I wish I didn’t have to make

Security warning for theft

Here in the Cinque Terre we have a *big* thorn in our side: pickpockets that ride the trains and circulate amongst passengers at the railway stations.

As toursim in our area has dramatically increased in recent years, so have the thieves that have come to prey on said tourists.  It’s incredibly frustrating and infuriating (not only for visitors but also for locals).  And for the pickpockets it has become quite a lucrative business.


You will find warning signs posted and voice recordings playing throughout the train stations in the Cinque Terre, La Spezia and Levanto, cautioning visitors of the danger of pickpockets and thieves.  Local law enforcement agencies have tried to increase their presence in the stations and on the trains but they are outnumbered (and oftentimes outsmarted) by the young thieves.  Most of these pickpockets are young females from nomad camps in Genoa, some even sport baby bumps (*gasp*).  These thieves (or should I say those that send them?) are astute and they know their way around Italian law (which, due to a loophole, is basically “catch & release” with Roma minors and pregnant women).

On a positive note, these pickpockets know not to enter the villages themselves as they are quickly spotted by locals (who have an eye for recognizing them despite their attempts to blend in by dressing like tourists), so the villages themselves are still very safe.


Here are some tips to help keep your belongings safe while on the trains and at the stations:

  • Do not leave your luggage or personal items unattended. Ever.  It takes just a matter of seconds for those items to disappear.
  • Be especially vigilant in crowded areas and when there’s a rush to get on or off the train.  This is the easiest moment for pickpockets to snag wallets or other valuables as you are distracted (and so is everyone else, too).  The thieves usually work in teams and while one is pushing the crowd towards the door the other is using quick hands to lighten pockets and purses.
  • Keep an eye out for faces in the crowd that are watching people’s personal belongings more than people’s faces.  If you notice bag watching taking place take it as a sign and be on high alert.  Don’t forget that these thieves usually work in teams so you might see them making eye contact with a second (or third) person.
  • Be cautious when using the overhead racks on the trains or when storing a bag under your seat.  You can’t imagine how easy it is for these trained thieves to simply pull a bag out from underneath you (without you even noticing!).  And I can’t begin to tell you how many times people get up to exit the train only to remember that they left something on the overhead rack.  By the time they go back for it, it’s gone.

My recommendations for you…

  1. Do not keep all of your valuables (cash, credit cards, passports, etc.) in one spot.  The old adage, “Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket” definitely applies here.  Spread your valuables out in multiple places, leaving just one credit card and limited cash handy in your purse or wallet.  Once you get to your accommodations, leave valuables there rather than toting around everything with you (just bring the bare necessities when you’re out & about).
  2. If you do place your luggage on the overhead rack or beneath your seat on the train, try to wrap or clip the strap in such a way that your bag can’t be easily removed.  When I put something beneath my seat on the train I usually will have a strap wrapped around my ankle.  I am also well aware when someone sits behind me (in the back-to-back seats) and I’ll make a point of moving my belongings and making eye contact with them if they seem suspicious.
  3. I know you might cringe at the thought, but money belts really can be a lifesaver.  As mentioned previously, keep only the essentials in your purse or wallet while traveling (one credit card and enough cash to get you through your day).  Everything else (like your passport, remaining credit cards and cash) should be either tucked safely in your money belt or deep within a larger piece of luggage.  Don’t put anything you’ll need to use frequently in your money belt (because there’s nothing worse than having to partially undress in public each time you need to get something out).  In my opinion, your money belt really is the safest place for your passport.  There are lots of options for money belts out there, but this one that goes around your neck or this one that goes around your waist are both available on Amazon and have fab reviews.  For the love of all things holy, do not wear your money belt outside of your clothing (this totally defeats its purpose).
  4. Have photocopies of everything (the main page of your passport, front and back of your credit cards, etc.).  This will be really handy in the unlucky event that your belongings are stolen.  Of course, that means you should store these photocopies in a different place from the originals.  It’s also a good idea to leave a copy of these things at home with someone else, too (just in case).
  5. Buy travel insurance.   Make sure that it includes theft and be sure to read the fine print so you know what’s included (and what’s not).  If you have travel insurance and you’ve been pickpocketed you will need to file a police report for your claim.

Keep in mind that this problem is persistent throughout Italy in any of the touristic hot spots (like Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan, etc.), not just the Cinque Terre. Spare yourself the heartache and headache by always being vigilant.

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Insider Tip: The pass they won’t tell you about…


I’m saddened to report that with the introduction of the new Cinque Terre Express light rail (and the increased ticket prices that came with it), TrenItalia has done away with the weekly pass for the Cinque Terre trains*.

For those than plan to visit the Cinque Terre for just one or two days, the all-inclusive Cinque Terre Card is probably the best option.  For more information on the Cinque Terre Card and all that it entails, click here.

Are you planning to stay in the Cinque Terre for three or more days?   The monthly train pass which I’ve detailed here is worth considering.  While this isn’t as inexpensive as the weekly pass once was, it can still be advantageous for those planning to use the trains frequently during their stay.

Safe travels,


*While not available to visitors, the weekly pass is still available for residents of the Cinque Terre, Levanto and La Spezia (but proof of residency is required).