Well, thought this photo might help you get the idea of this Elevator you read about in the guide books. You can see the train station on the bottom.
It was a euro on the way down, but we we were not asked to pay on the way up.. perhaps we were supposed to? It might have had something to do with our 2 girls that the attendant was flirting with.
It is worth taking the lift if you want to get to the higher part of Riomaggiore. Just continue on (to the right of the photo) along the scenic path to the Main part of town.
It's too bad we got started later than we intended and we didn't spend much time looking around at Riomaggiore. It just took a few minutes to get there on the train from La Spezia. We were on a car toward the end of the train and when the train stopped; our car was still inside a tunnel. We weren't even sure we were at Riomaggiore because they didn't call out the stops on the train. We saw some other people moving toward the door and we did the same, poking our heads out first to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We had to walk through the tunnel out to the platform. It was interesting!
The Cinque Terre trail heading north from Riomaggiore is very easy! It is paved and there are snack bars along the way to the next town, Manarola. That section of the trail is known as "Lovers Lane". If your legs aren't very sturdy, I'm confident you'll still be able to make the 15 minute stroll to the next town.
Coming from La Spezia and the South, Riomaggiore is the first of the 5 towns you hit. It's a town of pastel houses tumbled on top of each other with the Ligurian Sea as the backdrop.
From the train station and exit/entrance to the walking path you're not in the heart of town. To get there you can take the elevator up, and continue south around the bend or just continue south through the pedestrian tunnel.
There is a multilevel parking area at the edge of town, about 15 euro for the day (and probably fills up quickly at high season so get there early.)
If you're parking in Riomaggiore, to get to the train and walking paths, just do the opposite of what I describe above. You'll pay the entrance fee at the gate to the path. Consider the 5.40 euro Cinque Terre card which gets you in the park and allows you to ride the train & Buses.
They say that more visitors come to Riomaggiore because of its location than to any of the other four Cinque Terre towns. Its location is most accessible via the road. Still, it maintains its self-contained profile because it is hemmed in by the steep cliffs.
As one can tell from the picture, Riomaggiore has quaint shops, local traditions (hanging laundry off the small balconies), and pastel-colored buildings.
Vernazza is many peoples favorite village, dominated by the Round Tower and by the ruins of the medieval fortifications. It has a small harbor next to the village square
And it is, in my opinion, the most graceful town among the five.
It's nice to walk in those narrow street looking around and eating focaccia...you shouldn't miss it!!!
Riomaggiore is a nice town to stay. We chose an hotel here and it was really nice.
A very nice thing is that you have to park your car in a parking place at the entrance of the town. Thus you can walk safely all around...