Some essential advice about what to do if you are taking a train in the Cinque Terre:
- Use the entire platform. If everyone spread out the entire length of the platform, the clog of people getting on and off at peak hours would be lessened. This means standing well into the tunnel in Vernazza and Riomaggiore (don’t worry, the train will still stop right in front of you), and spreading out away from the staircase in Manarola. Corniglia and Monterosso are easier in this regard, but still, try to get away from the crowd.
- Don’t hog the tiny space near the stairs in Vernazza. As a corrollary to point 1, you will notice when you are here that the little covered area in the tiny Vernazza station is loaded with people. Waiting for your train here (especially the northbound trains to Monterosso or Levanto) is a disaster waiting to happen. So far, no one has been shoved onto the tracks, but even without tragedy, the most likely scenario is that a short train will show up and overshoot this tiny area, at which point you, along with everyone else, will be scrambling into the narrow tunnel to try to cram into the last car like lemmings.
- Single train tickets cost from 1.80 to 2.10 euros between any two Cinque Terre towns. But they are valid only for 75 minutes once you have stamped them in the green validation machines, so unless you are really quick in a single town, you can’t use the tickets more than once.
- If you are headed continuously in a single direction, purchase a 4 euro ticket from the ticket office. This ticket is different from the other ones … so long as you keep going in one direction, it is valid for 6 hours from the moment you first stamp it, which means you can hop on and off at different stations for all those hours and save a few bucks and time.
- Buy all of your tickets at once for the day … lines can get really, really long during peak times, so you don’t want to have to miss a train because of them.
- Remember that the only towns with a real ticket office are Monterosso and Riomaggiore. This means that if you need to buy a ticket to Pisa or Florence or Rome or somewhere like that, you must do it in one of these two stations. The other three only have tickets for the reginal train line and you will be out of luck.
- Smile … without the train, you’d have to hoof it up and down the hills all day to get from one town to another, just like they did in the old days!