Monterosso al Mare trip planner
The Cinque Terre town of Monterosso al Mare
Monterosso al Mare, home to the only sandy beach in the Cinque Terre. (Photo by Barbara Ann Weibel.)Monterosso guide
Planning FAQMonterosso is northernmost of the Cinque Terre, its largest village and the only town in the Cinque Terre with a proper, sandy beach—and a big parking lot for the commensurate crowds of Italians to take advantage of said beach and its ranks of beach chairs shaded by giant umbrellas (which you can rent for a small hourly fee).
Monterosso al Mare is actually two towns—a bustling, character-filled old town built behind the harbor, plus a more modern resort town that stretches along that beach and is home to the train station and the tiny regional tourist office. (Upon exiting the station, turn left and head through the tunnel for the old town; turn right for the newer town.)
Monterosso also sports a handful of proper sights. The best is the Convento dei Cappuccini, atop a tiny hill in the old town with a Crucifixion by Flemish master Anthony Van Dyck (who worked in nearby Genova for a while), but the aquarium (closed on and off in recent years) and a museum of anchovy salting (no, seriously) get more attention—possibly because they charge admission. Neither of them is terribly interesting, but if you have the spare time, entry is included on the Cinque Terre Card.
Monterosso may be the busiest of the Cinque Terre towns, with the most hotels, restaurants, and bustle, but calling it "busy" is a relative thing. The town remains little more than an oversized fishing village, with all the attendant charms.
Clothes drip dry from washing lines above the tourist office, the narrow streets are clad in stone, and in the evenings, as the sea gentle tumbles the shoreline's boulders, a cadre of the town's sun-raisined, wizened men colonize the bocce court wedged between the train tracks and the trail to pick up where they left off the night before in a game that has been going for generations. Hang around long enough, and they just might invite you to join in.
The 2011 floods in Monterosso
Sadly, flash floods on October 25, 2011, gravely damaged the Cinque Terre, doing considerable damage to the old town of Monterosso (and devastating nearby Vernazza).
The residents there are digging out from the mud and rebuilding, but it may be a while until Monterosso is back to its old self. As of early 2012, only the newer part of town is fully open. You can keep track of what is going on at www.rebuildmonterosso.com.
Rick Steves is rallying to the cause of the region he helped put on the tourism map, and you can find regular flood recovery updates (as well as links to local aid orignizations) in the "News" section of his site: www.ricksteves.com.
Best thing you can do: come and visit regardless. Most of the rest of the Cinque Terre is back up and running, and they really do need the support (and, frankly, your tourism dollars).
Note: Due to the flood, most of Monterosso's Old Town is still closed. Until the town finishes recovering and rebuilding, you'll have to stay in the New Town or elsewhere in the Cinque Terre.
Monterosso rental rooms and apartments
Surprisingly, there aren't that many apartments in Monterosso—though Gaudio Grazia (Via Buranco 15, tel. +39-0187-817-485 or +39-338-809-8783) rents two basic flats, sleeping six people total, in an old house about five minutes from the beach; they cost €20–€40 per person.
There are about two dozen rooms to rent, B&Bs, and even an agriturimo listed at www.parconazionale5terre.it.
- Planning your time: Monterosso is the most developed of the towns, making it another good base for exploring the region. There's little specifically to do here (modest museums aside), other than lounging on the sandy beach and maybe watching the bocce courts in the evening. Spend as little time or as long as you'd like.
- Admission to the trails: They now have the nerve to charge you to hike the old goat paths between the villages. This ticket is called the Cinque Terre Card, and you can get one valid for 1 day (€5), 2 days (€8), 3 days (€10), or 7 days (€20). It includes admission to the trails, use of the (frankly superfluous) tiny buses in some towns, the occasional elevator, and entry to a few tiny museums (local history in Riomaggiore, wine in Manarola, and here in Monterosso the aquarium and the anchovy museum).
There are also versions of the Cinque Terre Card that include unlimited train rides or unlimited ferry rides. Unless you're planning to take more than two train rides during your visit, don't bother. A standard train ticket between any of the towns costs just €1.60 to €1.80, while the train version of the card costs roughly €3.50 to €16.50 more per day (meaning you'd have to ride the rails at least three times a day or more to make it worthwhile). And, while nifty, you're unlikely to ride the less-frequent ferry more than once as a sort of mini-cruise.
- How to get to the Monterosso al Mare: Monterosso is on the regional Cinque Terre rail line, passing Vernazza (3–6 min.), Corniglia (7–14 min.), Manarola (11–21 min.), and Riomaggiore (14–28 min.).
Monterosso is also 14–39 min. by train from La Spezia, where you can change for trains throughout Italy (sometimes you change at nearby Sarzana), including Pisa (1:15–2:30 hr. total), Lucca (1:25–2:35 hr., sometimes change at Viareggio; sometimes change twice), Florence (2:30–4 hr.), and Rome (4:30–5:30 hr.).
- Take a tour from Florence: Our partners at Viator.com offer a well-regarded Cinque Terre hiking day trip out of Florence. It's a long (13 hours), but comprehensive tour, and leaves from the Florence train station at 7:30am. It includes bus transportation, rail travel between villages, hikes, a box breakfast, and lunch. Don't want to hike it? There's also a bus tour from Florence version that lets you walk the first, easy trail (Via dell'Amore), and also gives you time to wander four of the five villages (well, all save this one, Monterosso).
- Take a tour from Milan: Same as above, only leaving from Milano, the Cinque Terre Day Trip from Milan lasts 12 hours and stops first at Monterosso, from which you take a boat to Manarola, then hike the Via dell'Amore to Riomaggiore.
- Hiking the Cinque Terre
- How to get around the Cinque Terre
- Hotels in the Cinque Terre (all the towns on one page)
- Other Cinque Terre towns: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza
- Cinque Terre homepage
This article was written by Reid Bramblett and was last updated in March 2011. All information was accurate at the time.
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