La Spezia, a port city located about 90 miles (146 km) west of Florence is a common transfer point to reach Cinque Terre and is easiest to reach by train. Another option is to rent a car or arrange for a private driver, which can be a nice alternative considering the many sights and coastal towns in Tuscany and as you make your way to the Italian Riviera.

La Spezia can also be a great base from which to explore the five villages of Cinque Terre, either by hiking, or by train as you can catch the Cinque Terre Express, which reaches the first of the five villages—Riomaggiore—in under 10 minutes. From there you could explore the rest of the coastal villages, such as with this 8-day hiking itinerary.

By Train

Duration: 2-2.5 hours

From Firenze Santa Maria Novella station you can catch the Italian National Railway system, Trenitalia, to La Spezia Centrale. Travel time from Florence to La Spezia will vary from about 2 to 2.5 hours, depending on the type of train you catch (regionale or regionale veloce, which is a bit faster). You can show the conductor your ticket on your smartphone, for convenience. Trains run about every 30 minutes to one hour depending on the time of day and year and will leave from Florence until around 9 pm during peak seasons. There is only one ticket class available on these trains, and they are open seating.

By Rental Car 

Duration: 2 hours, more with stops.

While the train is convenient, with a rental car, you'll have the option to explore. You'll find many rental options in the center of Florence a few blocks from the train station, with several companies to choose from. It is possible to rent an automatic transmission car in Italy, but manuals are more prevalent and will cost less. You’ll also want to factor in the price of gas (prices are by liters, not gallons) for your road trip. 

As you make your way to Liguria on the A11 autostrada, you can take a detour to see some of Tuscany. You might want to start by stopping in Lucca, about one hour west of Florence, where you can stroll along the high Medieval fortification walls that once protected the city.

From there, you'll make your way to Italy's west coast, and could lounge at one of the manicured beach clubs in Forte dei Marmi. As you continue on, you'll pass Carrara, which is famous as the source for the marble used to create Michelangelo's David sculpture (seen at the Galleria dell'Academia in Florence). 

By Private Transfer

Duration: 2 hours, more with stops. 

If you hire a private driver to take you to La Spezia, you'll have the advantage of being able to ditch the car once you arrive to explore the coast by train, and you won't have to worry about navigating the narrow and often twisting roads found in the Cinque Terre and other coastal villages.


Map of How to Get from Florence to La Spezia
Map of How to Get from Florence to La Spezia