Enjoy this last installment of our Scenic Trains of Europe blog series for 2014, covering some of Europe’s finest scenic trains. We hope you learned much about some of the most popular scenic trains in Europe – and perhaps have even been inspired to travel on one on your next trip abroad! With the growing popularity & interest in scenic train routes in Europe, we hope to bring you more routes in 2015!
Don’t forget, at the end of this post, we’ll ask a trivia question and you’ll have 1-week to answer on Rail Europe’s Facebook page. From all correct answers, one winner will be selected to receive a complimentary iPod Touch, an approximate retail value of $229.
Embracing Italy’s Cinque Terre by Train
Declared a World Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO 17 years ago, the five villages of Cinque Terre (Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, Monterosso) are a territory where the extraordinary beauty of landscape, the colors of historic houses, the smell of sea and flowers and centuries old traditional cooking create a magic mix that makes Cinque Terre an obligatory destination for every tourist in Italy.
How did your railway get started?
Dating back to the 11th century, these small, close-knit communities number a total population of about 6,000 and are connected by foot, train or boat. There are strict laws to protect the beauty and uniqueness of this treasured area of the Italian Riviera on the Ligurian coast. Among its many charms are its colorful houses, rugged landscape and intricate stone walls that form the carefully built, vineyard terraces.
Can you provide us with a description of your scenic train route?
With either a Eurail Italy Rail Pass or train tickets, you can easily reach any of Cinque Terre towns with fast connections from Italy’s main cities (Torino, Milan, Pisa, Florence, Rome, etc.), Or take Trenitalia Frecciabianca or InterCity trains to Genova or La Spezia to connect to Monterosso, the first village of the Cinque Terre. On the way, you’ll be delighted by the breathtaking landscapes from your train window! The line connecting the 5 villages is part of the main Italian railway line connecting Rome and Genoa, so there is at least one train in both directions hourly. Almost all trains stop in Riomaggiore, Monterosso, Levanto and La Spezia.
Are there any special tips you can provide travelers, in order to have the best experience?
Once arriving to the Cinque Terre by train, explore the several foot paths that connect each of the five towns. Some of them are short and easy enough for children, whereas others are a little bit longer winding through trees and fields with an incredible view of the sea. Stroll along the main trail, the 9 mile “Sentiero Azzurro” (Azure Trail), or the “Via Dell’Amore” (Love Walk) linking Riomaggiore and Manarola which is wheelchair-friendly. The stretch from Manarola to Corniglia is the easiest to hike, although the main trail into Corniglia finishes with a climb of 368 steps.
If you don’t want to walk through Cinque Terre, as mentioned earlier, you have the option to let Trenitalia’s regional trains take you from one village to another, traveling stress-free and comfortably. The trains arrive directly into the center of any village.
Any way you get there, delight in the antique villages, sunbathe on the cliffs, or swim in the beautiful sea (May thru October). And be sure to stop for lunch in one of the many traditional restaurants to savor a typical Riviera meal: a good pasta “al pesto” plus local seafood specialties accompanied by a glass of Pigato wine!
Which year was Cinque Terre declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site? Click here to enter your answer on Facebook!