Where to Rent A Car from Cinque Terre - La Spezia, Pisa or Genoa?

Complete Info for the Best Car Rental after Your Cinque Terre Visit.

All Nearby Car Hire Branch Locations with La Spezia Car Rental Map & Genoa Car Rental Map.

Advice for Renting at La Spezia,  Genoa, Genoa Airport, Rapallo, Lavagna, Pisa, Pisa Airport, Viareggio, Lucca.  See Our Map for Dropping Off a Rental Car in La Spezia.

You can't rent a car in Cinque Terre - or in nearby Levanto. You must take the train from the Cinque Terre villages to reach the nearest car hire office - this guide helps you figure out where to go. There are also no car rental offices in Portovenere or Lerici and this information applies after taking a bus or taxi to La Spezia.

Tall Buildings in Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy
Vernazza in the Cinque Terre                   CC by Alh1
Heading South, East, North. You should rent a car in La Spezia - all the details are below. Unless you have particular requirements, La Spezia is clearly your best choice for all destinations (including Milan) except other parts of Liguria, Piedmont (Turin), Val d'Aosta, most of France, or western Switzerland.

Driving out of La Spezia is fairly easy and the autostrada routes from La Spezia south to Tuscany (A12) or from La Spezia east to Emilia-Romagna (A15)  are very scenic and the traffic almost always light to moderate.  The La Spezia autostrada entrance is on our La Spezia Car Rental Map.

While Pisa Airport is the best airport for Cinque Terre, and it's the next good car rental location southbound, it involves either one or two transfers. Also, the rental might be more expensive due to the airport rental tax. However, Pisa Airport does have all the major car rental companies and office hours which include all day Saturday and Sunday.

Other possible car hire offices to the south are Lucca downtown (Avis, Europcar), Pisa downtown (Europcar, Hertz), Pisa suburban (Hertz at Ikea), and Viareggio (Avis, Europcar, Hertz).
See More Info below for addresses of these branches, or use a Rental Link under the La Spezia listings.

Liguria Hotel Guide & City Selector - Part 3 - Portofino Peninsula

Portofino, Santa Margherita, Rapallo, Camogli, Recco.

Independent Advice to Help Choose the Best City & the Best Hotel.

 Family Hotels, Lower Cost Hotels, Seaside Hotels, Hotels with Parking, B&B's.

Where to stay to visit Portofino, Italy? 
What is the Best Town to use as a base for visiting the Portofino Peninsula? Choose one of these five charming Italian towns & you can enjoy Portofino, great hikes in Portofino Park, Ligurian beaches, walks along the seaside, and even a trip to Cinque Terre. You can explore the many area attractions, enjoy a good hotel with parking, and you'll meet the real Liguria. 

This is Part 3 of Our Liguria Hotel Guide and City Selector. Here are the pluses and minuses of five towns along with Martha's hotel reviews and recommendations for each. They are all on the Portofino Peninsula (see our Liguria / Cinque Terre / Portofino Map).  All are on the sea and have ferry service, four have train service on the Genoa - Pisa line for easy excursions. Listed from south to north - click the name to jump down.
  • RAPALLO  A lively city, well located & equipped for both urban enjoyment and excursions . 
  • SANTA MARGHERITA  Italian perfection - combining resort, small city, art, nature, sea.
  • PORTOFINO  One of Italy's most famous towns. Beauty, fame, history, expense all in one.
  • CAMOGLI A fishing village grown into a resort city. Historic, romantic, lovable & a beach.
  • RECCO A pleasant small city with full amenities but fewer tourists & a very special focaccia.

Liguria Hotel Guide & City Selector - Part 2 - Cinque Terre to Portofino

√ Liguria Hotel Guide & City Selector -Part 2 - Cinque Terre to Portofino Terre

Visit Both Cinque Terre & Portofino and Avoid the Crowds.

An Independent Guide to Selecting Hotels and Ligurian Towns - Recommended Family Hotels, Low Cost Hotels, Seaside Hotels, Hotels with Parking, & B&B's in Each Town.

Where to stay to visit Cinque Terre, Italy? 
What is the Best Town to use as a base for exploring the Cinque Terre villages and/or Portofino? Choose one of the charming seaside towns nearby & just a short train or ferry ride away from both Portofino and the Cinque Terre villages of Monterossa, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, Riomaggiore. You can explore Cinque Terre and enjoy a good hotel with parking, you'll endure less crowding, spend less than on comparable Cinque Terre hotels and restaurants, and you'll meet the real Liguria.

This is Part 2 of Our Liguria Hotel Guide and City Selector. Here are the pluses and minuses of six towns along with Martha's hotel recommendations for each. They are north of the Cinque Terre and south of the Portofino Peninsula (see our Liguria / Cinque Terre Map).  All are on the sea and all have train service on the Genoa - Pisa line for easy excursions, four have ferry service. Listed from south to north - click the name to jump down.
  • LEVANTO Small city ideal for access to the Cinque Terre but with its own charm & services. 
  • BONASSOLA Friendly small town with beach, bike path & hikes. Perfect for a relaxing base.
  • MONEGLIA  Historic village - like the Cinque Terre but without daytrippers & with a beach.
  • SESTRI LEVANTE A combo resort and city with an historic area and a super beach.
  • LAVAGNA A quintessential Italian small city with a vibrant center and fewer tourists.
  • CHIAVARI Elegant arcaded city with shops & restaurants yet good access to the region's sites

Hiking An Unknown Past - San Lorenzo Caprione

Above Lerici and the Gulf of La Spezia:  A Hike Exploring Ancient Astronomy, Early Farming, An Abandoned Church, a Forgotten Village, and a Quarry. 

Abandoned church of San Lorenzo di Caprione, Lerici, Liguria.
The abandoned church of San Lorenzo di Caprione.  On the Caprione Promontory in Lerici, Liguria.

Cobbling together an incomplete past for an entire village will be our task and our pleasure on this hike around the ruins of San Lorenzo di Caprione. We'll try to imagine some of its past from a few paper records, from the ruins of a church and houses, from stonewalled lanes and fields, and from a menhir and an ancient millstone.  The hike is on the Caprione Promontory - Lerici's peninsula - in southern Liguria, not far from Sarzana (see Getting There below).
Start: Connection to 1 (1=CAI-411)

The village of San Lorenzo is really old, but little is known of the town's beginnings or of its demise. In a discrete location hidden from the sea, we know it was the refuge for Lerici in the time of the Saracen raids of the middle ages.  It's mentioned in religious records in the 12th and 13th centuries, and in the 16th century a census listed 100 households. Life could not have been easy - although the area includes some level fields for farming and at least one water source, it's also very rocky.

The Hike.  The basic walk we describe in the forest and the macchia* takes less than an hour. It's easy and suitable for picnics and supervised children. There are many shady sections and some views but no steep parts, no services, and no water. The hike is a circle but it can be extended to almost any length thanks to the extensive trail network here. (see More Info below).

The Museum of the Olive - Imperia, Liguria

Visiting the Museum of the Olive, A Top Ligurian Attraction  

Not just for Children or Tourists or Rainy Days, This Imperia Stop is a Treat. 

Museum of the Olive displays of early private label olive oil containers
The Museum of the Olive displays many examples of early private label olive oil containers. No stereotypes here! 
In Imperia, Italy, along the Riviera dei Fiori, there’s a nifty Museo dell'Olivo dedicated to olives, and it is guaranteed to show-and-tell you things you did not know about olives –  fascinating things. The museum was created by the Carli family. Their family business -Fratelli Carli - is olive oil, and they've been doing it since the early 1900's. It all started because one year they had a real bumper crop, more than they could use, and they tried to sell it. All their neighbors, however, also had bumper crops, so one of the brothers hopped on his motor bike and started selling the oil in Piedmont, beyond the coastal mountains, and the rest is oily history. You may not know the Carli name, since they sell mostly “to the trade” to ensure that their oil will always be used fresh. For decades the family had collected olive related objects, and in 1992, the museum was born. What's more, there's also an excellent company store & lunch counter, an optional olive mill tour, and an optional tour of the office/production facility.

One Hundred Years of Happy Eating in Sarzana

La Scaletta - a Restaurant Institution in Ligurian Lunigiana  

Trattoria La Scaletta  Sarzana, Liguria
Trattoria La Scaletta  Sarzana, Liguria.
Pretty, narrow country roads of Sarzana are only minutes away from the historic center, and as you leave the last vestiges of town, you’ll find a blind corner and a stairway with an open gate. Just around that corner is the parking for the very affordable Trattoria La Scaletta. Pull in and start relaxing. According to the manager, this restaurant has been in business for over a hundred years at the same location, and when you look around the simple dining room full of people enjoying lunch, you can believe it. The ambiance is fresh, clean, and straight ahead –  each table is set with a business-like oil, vinegar, salt and pepper - with bright sheets of plastic covering the tablecloths,. The d├ęcor is interesting, a little plain, a little idiosyncratic, with oddly hung paintings and prints of landscapes, clowns, farms. In warm weather a huge side porch provides an airy alternative to indoor dining.