Day trip to Vernazza
One of the villages of the Cinque Terre, a rugged stretch of Ligurian coastline to the west of La Spezia, Vernazza is among the most photographed locations on 500px.com. It was therefore on my bucket list for this holiday and part of the reason why we chose to stay in Pisa.
My major concern with this trip was the last leg of the journey. The road to Vernazza from the autostrada looked to be narrow, steep and winding – unforgiving to somebody unfamiliar with it like me – so I found a very good alternative.
My top tip for you is to let the train take the strain. Come off the A12 at Sarzana, turn left at the second roundabout and follow the road around to the south side of station, where you can park for free.
Sarzana is the southern terminus of the stopping trains that shuttle back and forth along the Cinque Terre. The return journey would have cost my wife and I just €6.80 each, except that I wanted to stay until after sunset, meaning that we had to buy tickets that entitled us to return on an express train from La Spezia.
The station is just a very short walk from harbour: think Dawlish or Portmeirion with Mediterranean warmth. The main street was, if anything, even more crowded than Siena. Sadly the village was badly damaged by a flash flood in 2011; some of the houses around the harbour still have yet to be repainted. The beach on the east side of the village is disappointingly stony.
You’ll get the classic views of the village from coast path to the west at sunset; beware that it’s very steep and uneven after a short distance out of the village – but worth it.
In short, Vernazza is well worth a day-trip but possibly has less to offer for an extended stay. If you’re a photographer, it’s a must-see.
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Have you been to Vernazza or a similarly iconic coastal village with your camera? Feel free to share your tips in the comments below.