The tourist season has started at the Cinque Terre and since Easter we have been blessed with some great weather which only changed at the end of April. After the numerous discussions and meetings of Trenitalia, the Cinque Terre National Park, Local Councils and Ligurian Regional reps over the inundation of tourists and lack of services, we all had great expectations.
The good news was the introduction of the new train timetable – Cinque Terre Express which runs every half hour and stops at every village. This has meant a 24% increase in the number of trains available, a 40% increase in the number of stops (often in the past Corniglia was not included) and a 25% increase in the number of seats. Offering around 50,000 seats per day within the Cinque Terre. It will also mean that shortly the cost of the train ticket will change to €4 for the entire trip between all 5 villages.
Wow! So what’s the bad news?
The new timetable started in time for Easter and the long weekend of the 25th of April with a record numbers of tourists, and unfortunately there were long queues to the stations, train delays and the ‘cattle truck syndrome’ inside carriages with pick pockets delighting in the squash. And this is only the beginning of the season! Train delays can happen for many reasons as the same railway line takes the rapid train to Genoa and through to Nice which always has priority against local trains. However the main problem appears to be the difficulty in getting people up onto the platforms while allowing for those disembarking to get down and out of the station area.
Solutions? We may have our own style ‘train pushers’ as is done in Japan to assist the crowds into the station and onto the platform to avoid continuing delays. Extra Trenitalia staff are to be placed at the stations to do just that, so look out!
Another issue raised has been for local residents who will not be required to pay the €4 but the current €1.80 between each station, although how they will be identified is unclear. An article in the local newspaper suggested we may need to be micro chipped or possibly tattooed?! I hope that doesn’t eventuate and thought of Bartolo a local wine producer from Vernazza who often wears a cute T shirt “I am not a tourist, I live here!”
The current Cinque Terre card which allows tourists to hike the coastal trail between Corniglia to Vernazza, and Vernazza to Monterosso costs €7,50 per person or including all train travel €12 for a day, will increase to €16 just so the train company get their quota.
The good news? The Cinque Terre is still gorgeous, a delight to the eyes, an enchanting unique area that will survive even the worst inundation of tourists……we hope!
And I will keep you posted of developments.