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My wife and I are planning a trip with some friends in May 2010 that will start in Rome and then go elsewhere in Italy. We are considering Cinque Terra as a destination, and I was wondering a few things:
  • Is this a reasonable place to cruise in May?
  • Is the area suitable for relative novices?
  • Does anyone have experience with bareboat charter providers in the area?
  • What's the best starting point for this kind of cruise? Genova? La Spezia? Nice?

My wife and I live in Chicago, and we've just started sailing this year. Prior to this trip, we will have had one summer sailing on Lake Michigan under our belt, plus ASA 104 class in Greece and probably a flotilla in the BVI over the winter. All of our experience will be on 36 ft and larger sailboats.

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We were just there a couple of weeks ago (by land). I'm sure there are those on the list who have actually cruised there and who will give better info than I can. However, FWIW: (a) while there are a few mooring fields along the CT area, it's a pretty exposed coast in general; (b) La Spezia looks to be an excellent, well protected bay and from casual inspection ought to be a good anchorage; (c) the Italian government has recently been talking about prohibiting anchoring along the entire CT area, possibly with the provision of mooring fields, possibly not.

Good luck. It's a beautiful area.

Eileen of Avoca
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Cinque Terre as a destination

* Is this a reasonable place to cruise in May?
Yes, but it won't be very warm (average for that time of year is 20 degrees C). Note that it is the shoulder season for charter companies. Try to go as late in May as possible. Avoid July and August when prices are ridiculously high and the marinas are crowded.

* Is the area suitable for relative novices?
Yes, no real tides to worry about and crystal clear water, but watch out for the rocks and occasional Libeccio winds.
Genova to La Spezia is only about 50 NM so I expect you will have time to see much more than Cinque Terre.

* Does anyone have experience with bareboat charter providers in the area?
Can't help much here but take a look at and you might want to contact the International Yacht club of Rome (International Yacht Club of Rome) for advice.

* What's the best starting point for this kind of cruise? Genova? La Spezia? Nice?
Winds predominately alternate between SE and NE but it doesn't make much difference where you start. It's Mediterranean sailing.... so expect frequent use of the iron topsail.

Roadkillibus Texanis
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Our favorite place in Italy . . . next to Rome . . . and Venice.

I wish I could give you answers to your questions but we could only lust over the boats we saw there. I had planned to set something up for us but had time issues in the end. I do know there are no marinas in the Cinque Terre . . . only local fishing boats (small) and most of them moor out. There is a breakwater in Monterroso you can anchor inside of if you needed to.

If you don't get to sail you still have to go! My take on the area . . .

It's only an hour and a half drive from Pisa and even more Accessible by train. The five villages are connected by Railroad, walking path and boat when the weather is good . . . no cars. These five beautiful little pastel colored villages are pasted into the mountainsides above the deep blue Mediterranean. The walkway (trail) is the most beautiful I've seen anywhere! You walk along a narrow trail with the Ligurian Sea on one side and straight up on the other are the terraced vineyards going up what must be a thousand feet. You can literally touch the vines as you walk. The best Pinot in the world comes out of those vines! Our favorite part is between Manarola and Riomaggiore. It's called Via Dell Amore (Lovers walk) and just before sunset the locals (many elderly) hold hands and enjoy the end of the day with a slow stroll through what I can only describe as a dream world. We really loved sitting and enjoying the incredible local wines with the friendliest people in Italy. Most of the wine we had was given to us by our hotel owner Andrea Poggi (La Spiaggia) and his friends and relatives across the villages. You truly are treated like family in the Cinqua Terra and when you leave you'll miss it.

Some pictures from our last trip . . .

Monterroso . . . Northern most town

Check out Andrea's hotel. You have to sit and have some wine (from his vineyard) with him! He is a wealth of information about all of Europe. He was educated in the UK and is an incredible chef. We spent several hours with him. Andrea and his family are the friendliest most enjoyable folks we have ever met. I will always cherish that time. We can't wait to stay with them again!

From our room at La Spiaggia

Get wine here! Enoteca . . . the most interesting and romantic little wine place anywhere

Sit and enjoy it with Andrea's brother-in-law . . . more great education in the local culture

366 steps . . . one for every day of the year. The 366th step was recently added and Andrea said the towns Corniglia and Manarola fought for years over whether or not to add it.

Boat anchored off Monterroso

Boat anchored off Corniglia (middle town of Cinque Terre)

View from our table at Belvedere overlooking Monterosso

Typical fishing boat in Cinque Terre

Riomaggorie . . . the southern most of the Cinque Terre

Best way to get between towns

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Farr 11.6 (Farr 38)
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I hiked the Cinque Terre about five years ago. Its really a beautiful area. I was there in late May and the weather was as beautiful as you could ever imagine, cool in the morning and pleasantly warm as the day progressed. It is a spectacular place to hike with trails of varying degrees of difficulty. The little towns are marvelous with great eating and wonderful buildings.

It also has one of the most astonishing church interiors that I have ever seen. In one of the villages there is a small chapel that has twice lifesized skeletons festooned around a ledge just below the ceiling posed in 'lifelike' positions. I never have found any information about what that was about.

I am not sure about how you would cruise this barren and rocky coast. While I did see a few yachts sailing the coast, I don't recall seeing any of them in the small harbors of the Cinque Terre. My sense is that you could charter out of Genoa or LaSpieza and then sail down or up the coast. I think if I were to want to explore the Cinque Terre I would base my boat in Porto Venere, a great little town just outside the Cinque Terre, and then take the ferry to the various 5 towns.

Have a great trip,
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