Ceren and I, we both made an interrail. There was a town with full of tiny, colorful houses at mountainsides that we both wondered and couldn’t see during interrail, Cinque Terre. So, we got our ticket to Italy when we found the first chance. Of course we planned our trip in the form of Cinque Terre-Como-Milano so that we would not only see Cinque Terre while we were there. We were there between 24-27 March.
The first night our plane landed in Florence but we did not go there to see the city, just for stay there. In the morning we directly went to Cinque Terre by train. From this train station we bought a ticket, that was valid between the five villages and La Spezia. With this ticket you can travel by train as much as you want during the day between the five villages. The price is 13 euros. They also provide you a wi-fi password with this ticket that you can use at the train stations.
Cinque terre is composed of five villages: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare. We were planning to stay in La Spezia in the evening, so first we went to Riomaggiore and left our bags. Because Riomaggiore is the closest village to La Spezia. There is a place where you can leave your bag right in front of the station. You need to pay 3 euros per bag and it closes after a certain hour in the evening. After we left our bags there, we started to walking around.
The beachfront is right next to the train station. So we went directly to there. The landscape created by all those small and colorful houses is really beautiful. It is a very cute place.
But to be honest, it's too small for living all the time. People generally use this place as a summer house. You can take advantage of seafood when you are hungry because there are many options in restaurant’s menus. It is very easy to find pasta and pizza too, of course. Also, if you want to buy something like wine or pasta and take it home, then the shops in this village are cheaper than the others.
After sightseeing and taking lots of pictures, we returned to train station for going to next village and we went to the last village, the farest village to La Spezia, Monterosso al Mare. There is a larger beach in this village than the others. As soon as you arrive, you can find yourself at the beginning of the beach when you turn right after leaving the train station.
We were a little disappointed in this part because most of the buildings we saw were hotels. The number of local people are less than tourits and the biggest reason for this is the beach. However, the color of the sea over there is really beautiful. The most famous structure in this village is Neptune's sculpture.
Here, after a little tour, we bought an ice cream which was both cheap and tasty and walked towards the tunnel.
When you leave the train station and turn left you pass through the tunnel you see in the picture and reach the old part of the city.
There is a church and a chapel that you can see in this part. And of course it is very enjoyable to walk around the streets due to the nostalgia. We did not spend much time in this part and we found our way to hiking. Because it is possible to walk among the villages here, though not among all villages.
You can see the map of these hiking paths in the photo below and you can check whether they are open or closed from the link below.
We prefer to walk the path between Monterosso al Mare and Vernazza. This is not a difficult hiking and it can be walked in about 2 hours. I strongly recommend you to walk among the villages because it is worth the view and the nature.
When we almost reached Vernazza…
Our only bad luck was that the weather was overcast and a little rainy that day and when we arrived to Vernazza, it started to rain. We went on because it was not very strong, but when we arrived at the train station to go to the other village, the storm came on. As the rain continued for a long time, we could not go to the other two villages and we had to return to La Spezia.
After returning to La Spezia, we went directly to our hostel. But this city is also very beautiful and it must be visited. This is a city that has changed and developed and not like other villages. The road was very nice but we could not stop because it was late and we had to check-in to hostel.
I also want to mention about the hostel we stayed at at this point because it was one of the most beautiful places I've ever stayed. We stayed at My flat in Cinque Terre hostel and the price was 17 euros for one night. The hostel is very clean and the owners are very interested and kind. The only downfall is that it's a flat and there's no reception, so you have to wait for the key till the owners bring it to you when you arrive. But when you get inside, we’re sure that you will be satisfied,it’ll meet your expectations. You can use the kitchen as you like and there are everything which a normal flat has. The common area also has everything you need to make your meals such as pasta, oil and sauces. We wanted to try Italian pasta and Italian tomato sauce and we did it, beside that we drank our wine we bought from the last village. Wine was 12 euros but we saw cheaper and the same one at first village. Next day, we saw the same wine with half price in La Spezia. So, you can consider to do shopping in La Spezia, not in the villages :)
Next morning, we went to the train station for going to Como. However, there is no direct train from La Spezia to Como, so we had to go Milan first. It takes about one hour to go to Como from Milan by normal train, but you might use fast trains if you don’t mind to pay 6-7 euros more.
The first thing that caught our attention when we arrived in Como was the calmness of the city. When we left the train station, we saw the Como lake on the left. If you have the time, you can walk around the lake, but remember that it is big. The lake is lush and you can see many villas around.
There are boats that moves from the edge of the lake and it is possible to easily reach places seen in the following map. We read that some of them were really beautiful and worth seeing, but we didn’t go.
After spending time around the lake, we walked towards the city center. At that moment, we saw something in the glass of a pastry that we wanted to try since we came to Italy. It is called Panzerotto. Panzerotto is actually belongs to Milano, and if you eat from places near Milano's cathedral, you have a good chance to eat the best.We bought it an ate it immediately and continue walk to city centre. It is very easy and enjoyable to visit all the streets in here because Como is so small. We literally passed through all streets. There is a cathedral at the city center and the structure is really nice. However, when we finished the old area we very surprised because we were in a whole new part. There is only one way between them.
We sat a place which is right across from cathedral cause we were hungry. We tried tiramisu, pasta with pesto sauce, coffee and souffle. We were only didn’t like the suffle but it is the only thing doesn’t belong to the Italians J
After this feast we went to the train station to return to Milan and stayed Milan at night. The name of our hostel was Hostel Luimere and it was 16 euros per person. It is not very close to the city center and it is managed in terms of cleanliness. It was not the best.
When it comes to places to see in Milan, everyone thinks first that it is the Duomo Cathedral and Gelleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the oldest shopping centers in the world. The Duomo cathedral is one of the best examples of gothic style and a place to be seen. The shopping center and the cathedral are side by side so when you go to that area you can see both of them.
It is possible to find many brands in that area. Already, Milan is a place where fashion can be regarded as a capital city. Ceren admired every shoe she saw :)
Another place you should see in Milan is Sforzesco Castle. There is a very large courtyard to walk around and there are museums inside. The only bad thing about the castle is the lighting. Just as the front side is beautifully lit up and the other sides are not very caring. We are always jealous of Budapest in this regard.
There is a wide street across from the castle, called Via Dante. Here again you can see many brands. There are also many restaurants and cafes. But the prices are expensive and the food is not very tasty as it is a tourist attraction. We do not know how it is possible in Italy, but we ate the worst pizza here.
But we were very pleased that there was something going on. In Italy, happy hours are very common. In the evening you can buy a drink that you want in the place you go, during certain hours, and you can eat the food you want in the open buffet. We recommend that you try the apparatifs as they are very tasty.
I would like to talk a little bit about art because everything in Milan is actually in the art. Not without seeing a famous painting, Da Vinci's “Last supper” painting. This work is on the wall near the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Quite old but definitely a must to see work.
After all these tiresome trips we had to go to the airport now. We went to the Milan railway station for this because a lot of buses depart from in front of the station to go to the airport. The price is also 5 euros.
Let's finish with tips&tricks:
- There are two train stations in Milan. If you do not use the main station when you going to Como, you can find a train easier. Usually fast trains are moving from main station to Como.
- Check the train times between the villages in Cinque Terre before you go there. They are not too often.
- Try to get the train tickets in advance. We wanted to get tickets at the last minute from La Spezia to Milan and the tickets were quite expensive.
- Hostel prices in Milan are high. In fact the city in general is expensive. Careful with that before you go there.
- Milan train station is a big station. It may take time to find the perion. Try to go a little earlier to that station. We missed the Como train in last minute.
- The metro network in Milan is very advanced. Single ticket is 1.5 euros, daily ticket is 4.5 euros. But of course we always prefer to walk :)
- You can try any kind of pastry in Italy. We bought and tested different things, both at shop that was in the most remote corner or a shop in the city center. Everything is so delicious.