All these years later I still remember my first view of the brightly colored houses against the blue Ligurian Sea. Our view only lasted a few minutes but we talked about it for the rest of the trip. We tore up the internet when we got home trying to find out as much as we could about the area. It is one of my favorite places in Italy and I now try to get back every couple of years.
At the time of our trip most Americans had not heard of the Cinque Terre. Rick Steves is the one who introduced this beautiful area to Americans and his guide remains the best for travelers planning a visit to the Cinque Terre.
The Cinque Terre is a remote chunk of the Italian Riviera, it is the traffic-free, lowbrow, underappreciated alternative to the French Riviera. There’s not a museum in sight. Just sun, sea, sand (pebbles), wine, and pure unadulterated Italy. Rick Steves Snapshot Italy’s Cinque Terre Guide Book
Pages: 144 pages (Making it small enough for you to take with you on your trip)
Dimensions: 4.5 x 0.5 x 8 inches
Weight: 6,4 ounces
Maps: Rick Steves includes hand drawn maps in his books which can be helpful in showing you the layout of an area but are not helpful in getting you to a specific place. I am not always a fan of his maps but in this case they work. After all there are not a lot of streets or sites in the Cinque Terre so a simple map works well.
What I like about Rick Steves’ Snapshot Italy’s Cinque Terre
• He covers not only the Cinque Terre but the nearby towns. In peak season it can be difficult to find lodging in one of the 5 villages that make up the Cinque Terre so you may need to consider one of the nearby towns. One time I stayed in Sestri Levante and thoroughly enjoyed it. The trains run so frequently that going back and forth from the Cinque Terre was easy. Avoid La Spezia if possible. La Spezia is home to the Italian Navy and so is not quite as scenic as the other towns and can be a little seedy. One note, a page on Carrara is included in this book and it is not part of the Cinque Terre.
• As with all of Rick Steves books there is a lot of good practical information to help you navigate the area.
• Rick Steves books make for good reading before your trip and his folksy style makes you comfortable with traveling to a foreign country. If you have ever seen him on TV you get the feeling that if he can travel then so can I. He always tries to speak a little Italian and to their credit the Italians try to understand him.
• There really is a Rick Steves. It is nice to know that there is a real face behind the books. Anyone who has seen him speak or read his blogs knows that the Cinque Terre is among his favorite places in Europe. When there was devastating flooding in Vernazza a couple of years ago he was a big advocate for the area encouraging people to go there to help keep the small independently owned restaurants and hotels going.
• Rick likes to get to know the locals and encourages others to do the same. Strike up a conversation with the staff of a hotel or restaurant. Talk to the person sitting next to you on a train or waiting in line to buy a ticket. These conversations give you insights into the place you are visiting that you will not find in any guidebook. To encourage this Rick Steves provides the names of hotel and restaurant owners which is a nice touch, one you do not always find in other guidebooks. Since ownership of establishments does not change hands as often in Italy as in the US, chances are the names he provides are still current
What I don’t like about Rick Steves’ Snapshot Italy’s Cinque Terre
• When Rick Steves writes about it, his fans will flock there in droves making whatever it is ….hotel, restaurant or site, crowded with American tourists. People who like Rick Steves follow him with an almost fanatical devotion. I have to admit his are among my favorite guidebooks but I am always hesitant to try his small hotels for fear of running into a hoard of Rick Steves devotees.
• After a while you get tired of reading his opinions on evvveeerrrrything.
• His writing is conversational, sometimes you just want the facts