You’ve asked it, we’ve answered it!
We’ve compiled this F.A.Q. section with you, our potential guest, in mind.
These are all questions that we have been asked in the past, and perhaps you are wondering the same question now.
Please take a moment to look over this Q&A section, as it’s chock-full of valuable information.
As always, if you have a question that you do not see here, please do not hesitate to ask.
Q. Are you a hotel?
A. No, we are not a hotel but rather a room & apartment rental agency. Agencies such as ourselves provide a creative solution for your accommodation needs while staying in Riomaggiore and the Cinque Terre. As growth and development in the area have been limited by the unique geography and building restrictions, local residents came up with this inventive way to lodge visitors in characteristic rooms & apartments located throughout the historic sections of the village. Our accommodations are ideal for those wanting to experience firsthand the charm of an “Old World” Italian village.
Q. What should we expect while staying with Riomaggiore Reservations?
A. Riomaggiore Reservations offers the freedom of autonomy for its guests. When our guests check-in, they are given a key that is theirs to keep for the duration of their stay (this allows our guests to come & go as they please… without the hassle of checking keys at the front desk).
Our studios and apartments are self-contained. We provide bed linens and bath towels (the beds will be made and ready for you). Please note that we do not charge a “cleaning fee” upon departure but we do ask you to help us keep it that way by leaving the property tidy (with dishes washed, trash in the bins, etc.). You will find “house rules” posted in the studio or apartment. Please abide by these rules.
Our private rooms have limited housekeeping and are most similar to a hotel or inn stay. Every other day our cleaning staff will pass by to take out the trash for you and to leave fresh bath towels.
Q. What services do you offer at the Riomaggiore Reservations office?
A. We offer the following services at the Riomaggiore Reservations office:
- FAX – We are able to receive (without charge) or send FAX (rates based on destination).
- WiFi – Free WiFi is available in our office for registered guests only.
- BOOK EXCHANGE – We also have a variety of travel guide books available for reference.
Q. Is breakfast offered?
A. No, we do not offer breakfast. However, there are plenty of bars within very close walking distance that offer an Italian-style breakfast (e.g. a cappuccino & a croissant) as well as international breakfast selections (like yogurt & muesli, bacon & eggs, omelettes, etc.).
Q. How do we reach your office?
A. Please have a look at How to Find Us.
Q. My family at home is anxious to have an emergency contact phone number for me. Can I give them your office phone number?
A. Absolutely! Please make sure that your loved ones know what name you’ve made the reservation under & if possible the name of the room or apartment that you will be staying in. We will be more than happy to pass the message along to you.
Q. Are all taxes included in the price you’ve quoted me?
A. The price we’ve quoted you is the nightly rate for the room or apartment with the occupancy specified. VAT (value added tax, called IVA in Italy) is included in that price. What’s not included is the new “city tax” (which is 1 euro per night, per person, for max. 3 nights). You will need to pay that to us upon arrival, in cash.
Q. What methods of payment do you accept?
A. We accept cash (Euro only) or travelers checks in Euro (no fees are charged when we accept them, we treat them just like cash).
Q. Why do we need to provide credit card details in order to make a reservation?
A. We require credit card details in order to guarantee your reservation. The only instances in which we would charge your credit card would be if 1) you failed to arrive for your reservation, or 2) you did not adhere to our cancellation policy (see the next question for information on our cancellation policy).
Q. What is your cancellation policy?
A. We have a one week cancellation policy. This means that any cancellations must be made by telephone or FAX at least 7 full calendar days prior to your date of arrival. The penalty for not adhering to our cancellation policy is the amount due for the first night of accommodation + 50% of the amount due for the remaining nights reserved.
As we are a small, family-run business cancellations just days before the intended date of arrival allow us very little chance of renting out the property again. If you must cancel, we kindly ask that you do so as far in advance as possible. Grazie!
CHECKING IN & OUT
Q. How early can we check-in at Riomaggiore Reservations? How late can we check-in?
A. Check-in is typically after 2pm. For early arrivals you can come to our office as soon as we open at 9am, but the rooms & apartments are usually not ready until the early afternoon. Not to worry… you can drop off your bags in our office, go explore & come back later in the day. Or, we can take you to your room or apartment (even if it’s not yet clean, so long as it has been vacated) so that you can leave your luggage, take the keys & be on your way! Your room should be in shipshape by the time you get back. Please note that all of our guests are required to check-in no later than 5pm on their day of arrival (as this is when our office closes).
Q. Do we really have to check-in by 5pm on our day of arrival?
A. Yes, we really are serious about our 5pm check-in requirement. This is because in the Italian culture family comes first. Apart from emergencies, we ask that our guests respect our working hours & the time we have set aside for our family. If you do not honestly think that you will make it to Riomaggiore before 5pm, we will be more than happy to refer you to another agency or hotel. Please keep in mind, however, that small villages are unlike larger cities in that businesses do close early here (apart from the restaurants & bars). There is currently no 24-hour reception available at any agency or hotel in Riomaggiore. If you plan on arriving late at night, we recommend staying at one of the hotels in La Spezia or Levanto on your first night.
Q. At what time must we check-out?
A. Check-out is by 10am. If you are leaving Riomaggiore before our office opens at 9am, please let us know in advance so we can make arrangements and show you where to drop the keys.
Q. Is there a place where we can keep our luggage if we are not leaving Riomaggiore immediately after we check-out?
A. You are more than welcome to leave your luggage with us in the office on your day of check-out, just be aware that we close for lunch between 1 and 2pm and that you’ll need to be sure to be back to pick it up before 5pm (when we close).
Q. We want to stay with Riomaggiore Reservations but we’re coming by car. Do you have parking available?
A. Unfortunately, we do not currently offer parking for our guests. Keep in mind that traveling by car is not the most convenient mode of arrival or departure in the Cinque Terre, as the roads are narrow & curvy and parking is extremely limited. All five villages of the Cinque Terre are pedestrian-only. In Riomaggiore this means that you will have to park at the top of the village (in the payment parking) or up to 1km from the village in the free parking and then walk down into the historic center with your luggage. For more information on Riomaggiore’s parking situation, please see How to Find Us. An alternative you might want to consider is to park in either La Spezia or Levanto (depending on which direction you are coming from) and then take the train to Riomaggiore.
Q. Is it easier to reach Riomaggiore (& the Cinque Terre) by car or by train?
A. This is an easy answer… absolutely, positively by train. Our reasons are as follows:
- Parking in the Cinque Terre is extremely limited & quite expensive.
- The roads of the Cinque Terre are narrow & curvy.
- As the villages are pedestrian-only, those arriving by car must park at the top of the village and walk themselves (& their luggage) into the village and then back out again on their day of departure.
- 99% of our guests that arrive by car do not use their vehicle again until their day of departure (as the best way to experience the Cinque Terre is by foot, train, or boat).
Q. Is it possible to arrive by boat?
A. The boats are used (weather & sea conditions permitting) during peak-season to transport tourists between the villages of the Cinque Terre (with the exception of Corniglia, which is located off of the sea) and also to Portovenere. These boats are not practical to carry anything other than yourselves & your daypacks.
PRIVATE ROOMS & APARTMENTS
Q. Does each room or apartment have its own private bathroom?
A. Yes, each private room or apartment that we offer has its own private bathroom.
Q. Are bed linens & bath towels included in the price of the room or apartment?
A. Yes, bed linens and bath towels are included in the price of the room. Please note that we do not provide beach towels so you’ll either want to bring one along with you on your travels or purchase one here from one of the shops in the village.
Q. Are there telephones in the rooms or apartments?
A. No, there are no telephones in the rooms or apartments. However, you can use our free WiFi in the office or one of the many nearby WiFi hotspots to use Skype or FaceTime on your computer or device.
Q. Are the kitchens in the apartments furnished?
A. Yes, the kitchens in the apartments are furnished with pots, pans, plates, cups, utensils, etc. All you need to provide is the food!
Q. Are there hairdryers in the rooms & apartments?
A. We have hairdryers available for loan at our office, just ask for one when you’re checking in.
Q. Where can I do laundry?
A. Located just up the main street from our office is a self-service wash & dry.
Q. Are we going to be staying with an Italian family?
A. Nope, sorry… no Italian mamma will be staying with you. Though the rooms & apartments that we offer are privately owned, they are independent entities and have their own private entrances. You might have to settle for an Italian mamma up or downstairs from you.
Q. I’m a very light sleeper. Do you offer any rooms or apartments in quieter areas?
A. Yes, we do offer properties that are in quieter locations off of the main street but please keep in mind that wherever you stay in the village you are bound to hear sounds typical of village life (church bells, neighbors, passersby on the streets below, etc.).
Q. Are there many stairs to climb?
A. The amount of stairs to climb depends on the room or apartment that you have chosen. If you have an issue with climbing stairs, please let us know (we do offer some rooms & apartments with fewer stairs). We make a point of forewarning guests during our correspondences when there are quite a few stairs to climb.
Q. Do you offer any rooms or apartments that are wheelchair accessible?
A. Unfortunately, we do not offer any rooms or apartments that are wheelchair accessible. We recommend for those seeking wheelchair accessible accommodation to consider Monterosso (the fifth village of the Cinque Terre). Geographically speaking, Monterosso is the most wheelchair-friendly of the five villages because it is relatively flat. Monterosso is also more developed, so there are quite a few newer hotels that are more likely to be equipped for wheelchair access.
Q. Are your rooms & apartments smoking or non-smoking?
A. Our properties are strictly non-smoking.
Q. Do you allow pets?
A. We typically allow well-behaved pets, but it will depend on the property (for example, we do not permit them in properties with parquet floors). Please let us know in advance if you would like to bring your pet so that we can explain our requirements.
Q. Should we expect lots of stairs & inclines if we stay in Riomaggiore?
A. You’ve probably noticed in pictures of Riomaggiore the spectacular cliffs & our picturesque village flanked by steep mountains. Keep in mind that while you’re appreciating the beauty of this village you will also be climbing the stairs & inclines that go along with such unique geography. So, now that you’ve heard that let us tell you that you have no reason to be afraid… thousands of people have climbed these stairs & inclines without any problems. We’ve had plenty of active seniors visit Riomaggiore & just love it! However, if you are physically unable (or just plain unwilling) to climb stairs or inclines, maybe Riomaggiore is not the right village for you. We would therefore recommend Monterosso, as it is both the flattest of the five villages & the most developed (so it’s more likely that you’ll find modern conveniences like elevators).
Q. Are there grocery markets or supermarkets in Riomaggiore?
A. While there are no supermarkets in Riomaggiore, we do have four small grocery markets, a butcher shop, a fish monger (only in the mornings), & a bakery.
Q. Are there restaurants in Riomaggiore?
A. Riomaggiore has eight restaurants, two of which also serve pizza. There are also plenty of places where you can buy takeout.
Q. What’s the nightlife like in Riomaggiore?
A. Riomaggiore does not offer any discoteche (night clubs) but it does have a handful of bars that stay open until 1am.
HIKING & OTHER ACTIVITIES IN THE 5 TERRE
Q. Where does path #2/Via dell’Amore (the famous walk along the coast) start in Riomaggiore? Is it within close walking distance to where we’ll be staying?
A. The start of path #2 is at the train station in Riomaggiore. If you are facing the station you will see stairs to your right with signs indicating Via dell’Amore (Lover’s Lane). The train station is within close walking distance of all of the rooms & apartments.
Q. I’ve heard that you must pay in order to hike the trails of the Cinque Terre. Is this true?
A. Yes, it’s true. In 1999 the Cinque Terre became a national park in order to help preserve this incredibly beautiful & unique landscape. Now that the Cinque Terre is a park, you must buy a pass in order to hike path #2, also known as the Sentiero Azzuro. The proceeds from the cost of your ticket go to a worthy cause… the maintenance of the paths and the park.
Q. Besides hiking, what other activities are available in the area?
A. Hiking isn’t the only outdoor activity in the Cinque Terre. Other popular activities include kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, wine tasting, sailing, fishing and much, much more!
Q. Do you have any tips on packing?
A. The best advice we can offer to those preparing for a trip abroad is to (and we know you’ve heard this before) PACK LIGHT! We have found a direct correlation between those who pack light and those who enjoy their vacation most (OK, so we haven’t done any official research, but I can assure you that if we did the results would be the same!).
LESS LUGGAGE = LESS STRESS = HAPPIER TRAVELER!
While packing, keep in mind that just about anything you can buy in your home country you will also be able to buy here in Italy. So, if you’re not absolutely positive that it’s something you’ll use or wear, you’re better off leaving it at home & buying it if the necessity presents itself. This does not apply, of course, to prescriptions, etc. that you should always bring with you (bring along a copy of the prescription as well as the written generic name of the drug, just in case).
Q. What should I pack for my stay in the Cinque Terre?
A. Our area has a rather mild climate (not too cold in the winter & not too hot in the summer). We do, however, tend to get a chilly wind off of the sea during the winter months. If you are visiting in the winter we recommend a warm jacket or coat, scarf, pants & sweaters. If you are visiting in the summer, just about anything goes… flip-flops, T-shirts, tank tops, skirts, shorts, etc. The spring & fall in the Cinque Terre are usually mild, but bring along a few warmer items as well (just in case!).