Pisa, Lucca, Cinque Terre & Portovenere - CIN5
This tour starts from the famous town of Pisa, known worldwide for its Leaning Tower (the bell tower of the city’s cathedral). But the city is also home of the University of Pisa, which has a history going back to the 12th century and boasts more than 20 other historic churches, several beautiful historic palaces and various bridges across the River Arno.
The city of Lucca is deemed to be one of the most charming of Tuscany. Its centre is completely surrounded by Renaissance town walls, and its heart is an amazing town square, in the shape of the old Roman amphitheatre. Strolling through its pedestrian streets is a real pleasure.
The ‘Cinque Terre’ gets its name from the five picturesque villages of Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. The area, now a major National Park, is a unique part of Italy. For over a thousand years people have lived in this dramatic landscape, slowly altering its features and cultivating the steep hillsides that lead down to rocky shores. An extensive network of ancient mule tracks – today used as footpaths- take you through an extraordinary landscape of terraces, built by hand with stones and earth.
But the Region of Liguria has more to offer: the nearby small towns of Portovenere, and Levanto, a charming medieval town with a broad beach and of course the romantic island of Palmaria, in the Gulf of Poets, just off the coast in front of Portovenere.
This is a moderately easy tour which is suitable for those who have some experience with walking and a good general physical condition. Through the extensive footpath network of the area you walk from village to village, between forest and vineyards, through a spectacular terraced landscape overlooking the sea.
You have also the time to visit the historic towns of Levanto, Portovenere and of course the five charming villages which make up the ‘Cinque Terre’, little gems of colourful houses in a green landscape. Another highlight is the small island of Palmaria, just off the coast from Portovenere, at the entrance of the ‘Gulf of Poets’. Walking here is an unforgettable experience!
Arrival in Pisa. After settling in your hotel there is perhaps some time for a short visit to the town centre and maybe a swim to wash off the tiredness of the journey. In the evening you can go out for dinner in a nice restaurant nearby.
Hotel *** – Pisa
Total walking time: around 1 h. + sightseeing time
Directly from your hotel you start a beautiful roundwalk through the old town centre of Pisa. The walk ultimately brings you to the train station, from where you make a short ride to the nearby town of Lucca, one of Tuscany’s most charming towns with much to see, ranging from the Roman Amphitheatre, now turned into town square, to amazing Renaissance architecture. First walk through Piazza Risorgimento and then make your own way into the heart of this stunning walled town. Few cars are allowed in the old centre so it’s a pleasure to explore the maze of old streets and alleyways without needing to dodge the traffic! Take your time to wander towards the centre and perhaps to climb to the top of Torre Guinigi, a tall tower attached to a medieval villa, for a splendid view of the ancient tiled rooftops. Towards the end of the afternoon you travel back by train to Pisa. This is the perfect time visit the Piazza dei Miracoli, with its famous leaning tower, as most of the crowds have gone. A stroll through the old centre, with maybe a stop for a drink, brings you back to your hotel.
Hotel *** – Pisa
Total walking time: around 1 h. + sightseeing time
Today is day is the first walking day on the Cinque Terre. By train you travel from Pisa to Levanto. After settling in your hotel there is time for a short visit to the town centre and buy your picnic supplies. Then you start your first day walk, which takes you along the coast to Monterosso al Mare. The first part of the walk leads up towards Punta Mesco, the most notable promontory in the region. This is a good spot to stop for a picnic lunch. Just short of the point you can make a small detour to the ruins of an old 11th century hermitage and the nearby ‘semaforo’, from where you will enjoy marvellous views of the rugged coastline. Then you follow a fairly steep path down into Monterosso, a colourful village, with blue, red & yellow houses that cluster behind the beachfront. There is then time to explore the town before taking the local train back to Levanto. For those who want there is also the option to walk back from here, following a more inland forested path, which over the ridge brings us back behind the castle of Levanto.
Hotel *** – Levanto
Distance: 5 km. Approx. 3 h. walking. Ascent & descent: +/- 350 m.
You first take the train to Riomaggiore, the most southerly of the five villages, where you can already leave your luggage in the hotel. Then you start the most ‘classical’ of all walks in the Cinque Terre: the coastal path linking all five villages together. First you walk a short stretch along the famous ‘Sentiero del’Amore’ (‘Lover’s Walk’). Then you head for Manarola, an attractive little village with steep multi-coloured houses overlooking a rocky port. From here you hike up to the rural hamlet of Volastra, before descending back to Corniglia, perched on a ridge overlooking the sea, in the midst of stunning terraced vineyards, with awesome views over the whole area. Take your time to look around in Corniglia and then continue through terraced vineyards and the occasional citrus grove. As you approach Vernazza, dominated by its old fortress, you enjoy some of the best views in the region. You contour around the hillsides following a narrow track that leads us up and down, before a fairly steep descent brings us into the village itself. In Vernazza, arguably the prettiest of all the villages, there is time to ascend the castle tower for a stunning view of the port with its brightly painted boats. There are numerous cafés and bars where you can enjoy refreshment before taking the train back to your hotel.
Hotel *** – Levanto
Distance: 15 km. Approx. 6 h. walking. Ascent & descent: +/- 450 m. (longer options available)
From Levanto you walk in western direction today. The first part of the walk goes along the beach, then the path goes up into the first hills and down to the little seaside village of Bonassola. Then it goes through the seaside hills towards the small ‘village’ of Framura, an aggregation of scattered hamlets on the hillside. From Costa, the highest hamlet, an almost level path contours the hills, with nice views over the sea. A steep descend brings you down to the next resort, Deiva Marina (with the option to continue to Moneglia or even Sestri Levante). This walk along the coast brings you through several charming little villages, where you have the time to drink a coffee or just relax. Also do you have the possibility to have lunch there. From all the villages on the way you can take the train back to Levanto, in case you want to shorten the walk.
Hotel *** – Levanto
Distance: 16 km. Approx. 6 h. walking. Ascent & descent: +/- 700 m.
Optional Extra Day: The Sanctuaries of the Madonna Saviore & Reggio
Today’s walk takes you into the inland of the Cinque Terre, to the churches of Madonna di Reggio and Madonna di Saviore. You first take the train to Vernazza and then walk along the coast to Monterosso, approaching this beautiful little town from the other end. After a coffee break you start climbing up to the sanctuary of Madonna di Saviore. Here you can eat something or relax for a while, before walking on to the next sanctuary, that of Madonna di Reggio. Then the walk continues more or less along the contour lines; through the hills you walk to the little church of San Bernardo, with beautiful views over the coast, and from there you descend down to the coast at Vernazza again. A shorter option takes you directly from Madonna di Reggio, along a number of little chapels, back down to Vernazza.
Hotel *** – Levanto
Distance: 9 km. Approx. 4,5 h. walking. Ascent & descent: +/- 550 m.
Today you walk in eastern direction. From Riomaggiore, you commence your walk to Campiglia and Portovenere. You first hike up a long flight of stairs to the Santuario della Madonna di Montenero (optional bus). Continuing uphill you begin contouring along the coastal cliffs, through terraced vineyards, enjoying wonderful views of the coastline framed by clear blue waters. You are now on the ‘Sentiero Rosso’, the ridge-top traverse that goes from one end of the Cinque Terre to the other. You pass through the little hamlet of Campiglia where you can stop for some refreshment. Walking down into the pine forest, the track narrows as you continue towards Portovenere with further spectacular views. Arriving at the 16th century castle above the village, you may be able to see the distant peaks of the Alpi Apuane before a long staircase takes us into the heart of the village. There is time to visit the charming village and Punta San Pietro, before settling in your hotel overlooking the Gulf of the Poets.
Hotel *** – Portovenere
Distance: 13 km. Approx. 5,5 h. walking. Ascent & descent: +/- 650 m.
After the longer walk yesterday, today you’ll have some time to recover. There is the possibility to make an easy roundwalk over the island of Palmaria, just across the bay from Portovenere. By boat you make the short crossing and then you’ll have the whole day to discover the beauty of this very Mediterranean island, immersed in the dense vegetation, overlooking the cliffs with the seagulls and azure blue sky above you. Take some time as well to discover the impressive fortresses and perhaps go for a swim on one of the remote beaches. Upon returning by boat to the main land you still have time to visit the charming village of Portovenere itself and choose the restaurant for your last supper in the harbour of Venus.
Hotel *** – Portovenere
Distance: 5-6 km. Approx. 3 h. walking. Ascent & descent: +/- 300 m.
End of the tour.
ACCOMMODATION & MEALS
Accommodation is on a bed and breakfast basis in 3-star quality hotels. All rooms have en-suite facilities. You will be free to organise your dinner from the wide choice of restaurants in the area. No picnic lunches are included in the tour price; these can be prepared for you or materials for picnics can easily be purchased in the villages.
Nights 1 & 2: The first two nights are spent in Pisa. Here we stay in a comfortable 3-star hotel in the old town centre, centrally located at walking distance from the train station, all the main monuments of the medieval town centre and close to many nice restaurants.
Nights 3, 4 & 5: These are spent at Levanto, a nice old medieval city. Here we stay in a welcoming and comfortable hotel, centrally located at walking distance from the train station, all the main monuments of the medieval town centre and the sea shore.
Nights 6 & 7: These nights are spent in the beautiful fishing village of Portovenere, on the Gulf of the Poets, in a comfortable hotel, overlooking the Bay.
UPGRADE: It is possible to do this tour, staying in more luxurious 3/4-star hotels (only in Levanto and Monterosso).
- 2 nights in Pisa – BB
- 3 nights in Levanto – BB
- 2 nights in Portovenere – BB
- 1 luggage transfer Levanto – Portovenere (day 6)
- Extensive route notes, with description of the route & tourist information
- Maps at 1 : 25.000 scale
- GPS tracks for each day
- 24/24 h local assistance
- Departure taxes
- Travel Insurance
- Tourist tax
- Drinks and meals not mentioned in the itinerary
- Optional additional tours or activities
- Items of personal nature
FOOTPATHS & WAYMARKING
Footpaths: Most paths are well maintained, but the journey involves some walking uphill, sometimes on paths with rough surfaces.
Waymarking: A large part of the route is waymarked; elsewhere it is necessary to follow the route descriptions provided together with the maps.
ARRIVAL & DEPARTURE
Arrival: The tour starts in PISA. Pisa Airport offers many low-cost flights from/to destinations all over Europe. Also are there frequent trains from all directions.
Departure: The tour ends after breakfast in PORTOVENERE on day 8. The return to Pisa (airport) is most easily made by train.
N.B. Please note that there is no (cheap) parking space anywhere on the Cinque Terre except for Levanto!
Options for extra days / changes in itinerary
Extra days can be booked in any of the accommodations ‘en route’. Extra walking options will be provided!!!
N.B. The very frequent trains, which link all the villages, make it easy to modify the programme. It gives you all the freedom to do the walks in your own rhythm, or alternatively, do some sightseeing.
Therefore it is also possible to opt for different accommodations on the Cinque Terre, without changing the walks. This one accommodation can either be Levanto, Monterosso – the biggest village of the Cinque Terre – or charming Riomaggiore (we usually opt for Levanto, a slightly bigger place, more ‘lively’, with a good choice of restaurants and a broad beach), but according to availability and/or special requests it is possible to substitute these days in Levanto.
|You can book this tour with a minimum of 1 person.|
|There are a very limited number of available places on these dates. Immediate booking is recommended.|
|Availability and prices on request.|
- Prices are per person and based on the season within which the first night of the tour falls.
- Prices are based on 2 people sharing double or twin accommodation. Single rooms (double rooms – single) are available on most trips however the supplements listed apply.
- If you are travelling alone then on some trips (which include taxi transfers) a ‘Solo Traveller Supplement’ will be applied instead of the normal single supplement.
- Prices are expressed in Euro’s. There will never be a currency surcharge.
- Actual exchange rates: GB £ - US $ - CAN $ - CHF - DKK - SEK - NOK - Other currencies.
It is possible to include some extra nights in your tour, in any of the accommodations ‘en route’.
Extra walking or sightseeing options will be provided !!!
The very frequent trains, which link all the villages, make it easy to modify the programme. It gives you all the freedom to do the walks in your own rhythm, or alternatively, do some sightseeing.
This makes it possible to opt for only one accommodation on the Cinque Terre. This one accommodation can either be Levanto, Monterosso or Riomaggiore, according to availability and/or special requests.
At the beginning or the end of the tour there is also an opportunity to visit Genova and/or Pisa / Florence, or spend some time on the beach, somewhere in Liguria. The tour can easily be extended with a few extra days in Pisa or Florence. Several good accommodations are available. Details & prices on request.
SHORTER & LONGER VERSIONS
A longer, 10 -day version of this tour is also available, including two days on the Portofino Peninsula.
Also longer 11- and 12-day versions are available. Prices on request.
Also shorter 5- and 6-day versions are available. Prices on request.
See also our other Cinque Terre tours !