I'm mulling over another European trip this year. I'm thinking Italy. I don't know much about Cinque Terre but I hear it's beautiful. When is the best time to go to take advantage of weather, food, people and nightlife? How many days do you recommend? What cities/towns nearby should I not miss? I would have about 10 days.
Best time to go: May. Cities to cover: Venice 1-2 days, Florence 3-5 days including a day trip to Cinque Terre, Rome rest of the time. This is the essential, Italy in 10 days whirlwind tour. If at all possible try to extend your time, 10 is not very much.
Cinque Terre is beautiful, but it's definitely doable in a day. Unless you're just looking to lounge and not do much at all, I wouldn't recommend spending more than two days there, and then only if you are really looking to see every inch of the five cities.
I'm planning a trip to Italy in August. I want to see it ALL but know that's unrealistic. I am torn between trying to capture as much as possible and taking it slow and easy in 10 days. I know I want to eat fantastic food, drink great wine, meet awesome people and just experience the country. I will be flying from Los Angeles and traveling with a small budget. I know I definitely want to go to Cinque Terre. Most people say 1 or 2 days max is enough. What do you think? My understanding is that August is pretty hot so I wouldn't mind the beach. Where should I go that's easily reachable by train/bus and that won't eat into my time/budget too much.
I enjoyed the beaches in Rimini, which is fairly close to Venice (change trains in Bologna). Stayed at the Hostel Jammin' which is a couple blocks from the beach. If you meet a cute guy named Razi, tell him Lauri misses him!
In Cinque Terre, I stayed at the Hostel Cinque Terre in Manarola. Very nice and modern but they have a large lockout time. You have to be able to walk up steep hills there so don't go if walking isn't your thing. I got stung by a jellyfish while I was swimming there so be forewarned.
I was there in July last summer and it was 90+ F every day! Made it pretty exhausting to be out walking all day so try not to schedule too many things together and keep hydrated.
Have a great time!!
Here's the Wikipedia guide to Cinque Terre which you might find useful. It contains links to photographs and videos at the foot of the page.
My understanding is that people take holiday in August. Will I be able to find accommodations? Should I book a place before hand or do you think I can find a place when I get there? I'd like to keep it loose in case we decide we want to hop on a train and explore.
The guy running the hostel I stayed at in Manarola last July told me that almost everyone there is "on vacation". Very few people live there year round and the houses are their family vacation homes. While I was there, they had a train strike and two guys who had planned to leave were stranded (there were no more boy beds available and we weren't allowed to mix!) and wandered around all day with their backpacks on, looking for a room they could afford. Considering that Manarola is on the side of a steep hill, they were pretty miserable. They finally ran into two girls who were renting a place that let them crash there for the night. With this in mind, I think I would arrange a place to sleep ahead of time.
You could also sign up to Couchsurfing It's an organization that brings people into contact with each other all over the world by offering a place to sleep (on a couch). There are also members who are willing to act as guides to show you around. Their FAQ page explains how it all works.
realdowner - based on what you've stated you're looking for, Cinque Terre would serve well as your "take it slow" oasis in between other destinations - things move on a much slower pace there, you'll definitely get your good wine, you can mingle about in the small town squares and meet some interesting people, but you'll still feel like you are in a completely different place if you're used to cities like Roma and Firenze.
I'd highly advise at least trying to book accommodations at least a day or two before you arrive (you can always cancel, right?). The towns of CT are tiny, leaving a definite upper limit on potential accommodations. In addition to what you can find online, many places are spare apartments/etc that can only be reserved in person or over the phone (and not all speak English of course)...just depends on your level of comfort with respect to knowing you have a place to stay when you arrive.