As many of you know I visited Cinque Terre at the beginning of November. My friend Donna of SlowMeDownEscapes was so nice to invite me to her scouting tour. Due to the bad weather, we couldn’t explore as much as we wanted but we could get a feeling of the places. That’s why I thought of writing a blog post with a few ideas and tips that can be useful for those who are planning to visit the Cinque Terre in November.
Cinque Terre in November: Pros
The first pro is undoubtedly the lack of crowds. You have no problem finding a place to sit inside the trains leading from one village to another, there is no queue along the trail stretches, no crowds along the alleys of the small towns.
Photos with no efforts
No people in your photos, no queue to take a selfie or a photo in the most beautiful panoramic terraces. That’s a plus. If you’re blessed with sunny days, that’s perfection. I think I managed to take very nice pictures also with cloudy weather though.
Transportation and accommodation prices are lower during the off-season, so it can be a good value for money. Also, the famous 5 Terre Card Train is cheaper. We didn’t purchase it, though. We would have… in better weather conditions. While, as it was, we preferred to see day by day how things were going. We basically decided at breakfast what we were going to do on that very day, consulting the forecasts at the last second.
Cinque Terre in November: Cons
Weather and light
Weather can be very rainy in November. Plus, in the last few years, we are witnessing major climate changes. The major problem is that Liguria is a very fragile region, with a high risk of floods and mudslides when it rains copiously. For example, on the first full day of our stay, Donna and I were forced to stay home due to the red alert. As for the other days, it was very, very variable. And the forecasts… not reliable. We basically compared 5 different forecast websites or apps… and no one ever got it entirely right. We tried to chase the sun as much as we could and were always prepared to change plans at the last second. Also, consider that in November, at 5 pm it is already dark so you can’t explore a lot, especially if the weather is not great. PS remember to pack and wear layers of clothes, cause temperatures to go a bit up and down during the day.
After October and until March, there are basically no ferries connecting La Spezia or other close towns to Cinque Terre. Since driving is not recommended (tunnels, very winding and narrow roads, few parking lots when you visit this area it is better to travel by train or ferry. In November you have no choice though. No ferries leave the ports. You can also see all the private boats of the locals retrieved from the port and kept on the small squares or along the main alley of the villages.
Therefore… you have to choose the train. I was quite surprised by the trains which seemed very “old-fashioned” to me. Despite this, they’re a convenient mode of transportation. Price is cheap, mostly because each village is very close to the next one, about 5 minutes or so. But… starting from the first days of November, you only get 1 train per hour. Which it’s not bad if you have a whole sunny day ahead. But not ideal if you only have a half-day, because of the rain.
Many restaurants and shops were already closed, but we could find some nice places where to grab a bite. In Manarola, La Cantina Zio Bramante was a cozy refugee during rain: we just had a sandwich in a simple atmosphere and I liked the presence of a guitar (at night some locals gather there to play and sing, so cute). Plus the gelato in Vernazza was scrumptious (“ricotta and figs” at Gelateria Vernazza). We also found a couple of public toilets closed, but you can rely on cafés and restaurants for that. The problem is that I think that many of them were still open just because it was the beginning of the month. So, it’s probably better to avoid late November or ask for info to your hotel/B&B about open restaurants or something.
All the paths were closed. We could proceed just for a short trait of a couple of them, and then we found barriers. Luckily, we reached panoramic points anyway, enough to take a couple of nice pictures of the villages from above (Vernazza and Manarola). The famous Via dell’Amore is closed and a girl at the tourist office said it won’t be open next year, either. Too damaged and dangerous. But look at this cute cat we bumped into in Vernazza: a perfect model for my picture.
Cinque Terre in November yes or no?
In conclusion, I think that ideally, the best thing to do would be to book at the last minute when you can already rely on trustworthy forecasts. Since there are only a few tourists traveling at that time of the year, I think you won’t have problems finding accommodation. If you’re lucky enough to find sunny days, this could really be a great chance to visit Cinque Terre with no crowds, take all the pics you want and really enjoy the place.