Trenitalia has trains running all along the coast. It is easy to get on a train from Genoa to a smaller resort town in the neighbourhood.
We flew into Genoa airport from there took the shuttlebus to the trainstation. (It stops at several trainstations, just ask for Principe Station, one of the larger ones.) At the trainstation we bought a one way ticket to Arenzano. Arenzano is about 25 km away, and it costed 2,40 Euro (in 2010)
The only problem is there are no announcements made (not in italian or english) to state at which station you are. That can be difficult as the regional trains stop at every (small) station. Luckily we had downloaded a train schedule from the website and knew what time we were supposed to be at Arenzano. That made it a lot easier to find the right station to get out.
We found trains to be very long, with enough space, even on 8:30 on a working day. But we also found the schedule is not very regular as sometimes it took almost an hour for the next train to come at other times as little as 15 minutes.
To figure out what works best with your schedule, Go to http://www.trenitalia.com/en/index.html
Type in your departure town, and Arriving at either riomaggiore (southern of the 5-terre) or Monterosso (Northernmost), your travel date, and see what the schedules are.
From say, Lucca: You'll have to make to train change(s), one at Viareggio, and perhaps 2nd at La Spezia- the switches are all at the same station.
Depends on where you want to start at in the 5-terre, north or south.
From the south, for example - Lucca, to a Riomaggiore, the first of the 5-terre that you'll hit coming from La Spezia, takes an hour & 37 minutes for the most frequent trip offered.
Lucca to Monterosso Al Mare (northern most of the 5terre), generally takes more time, about 2 hrs, though there is the possibility to do it in an hour 23 minutes. Though that's just one train leaving Lucca at 1:30.
Either way, getiing there is not to challenging, and once there, getting between the towns is also easy, and fun. But don't just stick with the train- use your feet and the boats as well...
This picture shows me at the train platform of one of the five Cinque Terre Villages. Their train system is really unique because there are lots of tunnels right through the cliffs.
We would catch the train from the depot in Levanto to go to the particular village that we wished to visit. Sometimes, we would walk between two villages, then take the train to the third and so on. It's all so convenient, and it makes it ever so nice for those people who cannot walk the trails.
We took the train from La Spezia to the Cinque Terre towns to start our hikes. The train was on time and only took a few minutes to get to the first village. The ticket costs 5.20 Euro for one day, which includes the trail fee. You can also buy a pass that covers you for 3 or 7 days. Make sure you validate your ticket at one of the little yellow machines at the train stations.
The trainsystem in Italy offers good connections to all important destinations for a tourist.
Click on my picture and you will see :
6)the direction to 5terre
Have a look for special offers like e.g. there is a dayticket to 5terre, including all trains,buses and even the entrance-fee to the national park of 5terre (this is ONLY necessary to pay, when you walk between the 5 different villages!)
Something very important - and a bit different from other countries :
Cancel your ticket at the station in one of the many small machines, BEFORE you enter the train, otherwise you might be fined in case they catch you.
This is the main train station of Genoa - just a few hundred meters off the cruise-port and in the west of Genua / Genova.
It is nothing special there for a tourist, except a big statue of Columbus and a rather expensive internet-cafe across the big square.
You may click here to see the station on a small, zoom-able map :
www.multimap.com - Genua / Genova
...and when you leave the station "Statione Principe " you should be careful not to enter the tiny small streets on the right ( towards the port ) - it might be a bit unsafe for young ladies with big suitcases at certain times of the day and especially at night...
And it is almost impossible to park a car there !
It looks rather like a Palazzo - BUT it is one of the 2 big train-stations :
Genua Brignole - on the east part of Genua .
When making an appointement or hotel-reservation simply make sure, you leave at the right station !!
And if you are lucky and have an appointement with Chiara...
...THIS is the station, where she will meet you, as it is less complicated to park her car in that area ( BUT it is complicated enough to get a parking anyway !!!)
Click on this map to see Brignole on the map :
www.multimap.com - Genua Brignole
Take the train in Liguria, when-ever you can , it is fast, cheap, efficient and takes you almost everywhere !!
Just remember to cancel your ticket in the station, BEFORE you enter the train !!
There are small machines everywhere and inside the trains there is no more controll - except for those people who forgot to cancel the tickets !!