First of all it must be said that the car is not the best means of transport to visit the Cinque Terre. In fact the morphology of the territory, characterized by high hills overlooking the sea, means that the roads are narrow and steep with many curves. Furthermore, there are limited parking spaces, however, always outside the built-up areas that are closed to private traffic. These reasons should discourage the use of the car, considering that it is much easier to reach the Cinque Terre by train and that the only possible use of the car is to reach medium-range destinations in the interior (eg Lunigiana, Garfagnana, Aquarium of Genoa, Pisa, Lucca ect.). However, if you intend to use the car here are the directions:
The Cinque Terre can be reached by car from La Spezia (14 Km) with the S.P. n ° 370 "Cinque Terre coast". After exiting at the "LA SPEZIA-S.STEFANO MAGRA" exit of the A12 Genoa-Livorno or A15 Parma-La Spezia motorway. From the tollbooth, follow the signs for La Spezia and once in the city (after 5 km on the motorway) proceed along the seafront towards CINQUE TERRE-Portovenere, following the signs. At some point, after the military arsenal of La Spezia (of which you can see the main entrance on your left) and the municipal stadium A. Picco the roads divide: you will have to proceed straight uphill towards Manarola-Riomaggiore.
Riomaggiore is the first of the countries, located 12 km from La Spezia; take the coastal road SP 370, a few hundred meters after the second tunnel you will find the indications on the state road and you will have to turn right downhill. The last 2 km of road are very scenic but not very easy, especially in high season when cars parked along the road constrict the road considerably. It is allowed to park freely along some portions of the road, paying attention to prohibition signs; alternatively you can park in the car-silo located at the end of the road, right next to the town where the pedestrian area begins or near the municipal cemetery. The last 200 meters are reserved for the parking of residents, you can get more information by contacting the employees in the small box-office at the end of the road.
Manarola is the second country, is 14 km from La Spezia and is right at the end of the S.P. n ° 370 "Cinque Terre coast" after the third tunnel. Arrived at a junction with a roundabout, take the second exit on the left and go down (at the roundabout, the road continues with the SP 51 which leads to Groppo, Volastra and continues to reach the other villages of the Cinque Terre). After a couple of trips back, you'll come across a fairly large paid parking lot. But going down, the road narrows and you will meet another parking lot with a barrier or you can park along the road where allowed but paying attention to the signs. Continuing to descend, you arrive at the limit of the ZTL and pedestrian area equipped with a barrier where the Manarola Pk Interrato silo car is located, which represents another parking possibility.
Corniglia is the third village of the Cinque Terre, located 25 km from La Spezia. A few meters after the third tunnel on the S.P. No. 370 you will find a roundabout, where the SP51 begins. Take the exit you are facing, then follow the signs for Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso on the right uphill. Now the road becomes steep, not as wide as before and with many curves. You will have to go past the towns of Groppo and Volastra, continue to follow the SP 51 and after 7 km you will reach the junction for Corniglia and Vernazza on the left downhill. Drive carefully in this section because the road is very steep and particularly narrow. Head left at the intersection at San Bernardino and you will reach Corniglia after 4 km of a particularly narrow and winding road. Parking in Corniglia can be difficult as there are few places along the road, just before the town.
Vernazza is the fourth village of the Cinque Terre. The indications for Corniglia are valid along the SP 51, but at the last crossroads at the San Bernardino locality turn right. The road is downhill with many curves, narrow and winding, especially when you arrive in the steep valley immediately behind the town. Moreover, here the road still has some inconveniences that have occurred at the level of traffic with the 2011 flood. Even in Vernazza the last part of the road is reserved for the residents' parking and parking can be very difficult. You will meet a parking lot along the road on your right, before the road becomes the SP 61 or you can park along the road but it is always the recommendation to follow the signs with indications of paid parking.
Monterosso al Mare is the fifth and last town and is 35 km from La Spezia. Always follow the signs for Corniglia (see above) but, in the locality of San Bernardino, instead of turning left, proceed along the main road SP 51, after 9 km you will arrive at the Vernazza parking lot indicated above and follow them to the SP 51, on the right, uphill, Monterosso is well indicated. The road continues halfway up, with difficult and curved points, until it crosses the SP 38 coming from Pignone-Val di Vara which represents another route to reach Monterosso and the Cinque Terre. Turn left, the descent begins and follow the signs for Monterosso. You will pass by Santurio di Soviore where there is also a refreshment point, and turn left again at the last intersection towards Monterosso. We recommend an alternative route: the recommended motorway exit is "Carrodano" on the A12 Genoa-Livorno motorway. At the tollbooth follow the signs for Levanto. At the end of the first descent you will reach Levanto, proceed through the center turning right and then towards Monterosso on the left. A few km uphill and you will find signs for Monterosso shortly after exiting a tunnel. The parking possibilities are wider, but not during the summer.
The historic centers of the Cinque Terre are closed to private traffic, which means that no one (not even the residents!) Can access the countries. Parking is a concern for many visitors. This is partly understandable, as parking is not easy, especially during high season, and even more so on holidays. In these moments the advice is to wait near the paid parking lots for a place to be freed (there is always a certain rotation of places so it is likely that in 10/15 minutes it is possible to park) or to go up along the road where the parking is free and allowed in straight sections. Even if the distance from the town increases, don't be discouraged, the car will no longer serve you until departure. And then ... it's time to abandon the worries because in Cinque Terre you walk! On the other hand, the Cinque Terre are so special precisely because of these characteristics. Consider that once parked, it is not recommended to use the car for traveling along the coast, most likely (unless you choose differently for excursions inland or on a wider range) you will pick up the car at the start. So a bit of discomfort in baggage unloading operations and reaching the lodgings, but this means less pollution and, perhaps, a healthy break from the sedentary lifestyle that characterizes the daily life of many. Visiting the Cinque Terre means, among other things, walking.
The train, surely the best means of travel to visit the Cinque Terre and be enchanted by the beauty of the Ligurian sea. From March 16th the 5 Terre Express train is in service to travel comfortably between La Spezia Centrale, Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, Monterosso and Levanto with a single single fare ticket, taking advantage of the offer of 100 trains a day, 7 days a week, every 15 minutes