If you are looking for the best that Italy has to offer, look no further than Cinque Terre. This stretch of the Italian Riviera has picturesque towns, rolling hills, blue seas, delicious food and friendly people. The name means Five Lands and is named for the five towns that, up until the railroad was built 100 years ago, were only accessible by foot or by boat. Today, they are all car-free, and appear to have changed little since the modern technology of train travel arrived. The towns are connected by footpaths that welcome travelers from the world looking to stretch their legs. The Italian government recognized the awesomeness of Cinque Terre in 1999 and designated the whole area as Italy’s first national park.
The towns, from south to north, are: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso. All are located on the hiking trail and all have beaches, delicious food and wine and rooms with stunning views of the sea and hills. Monterosso is the largest town and caters most, relatively speaking (Cinque Terre does not have mega resorts and late-night dance clubs) to tourists and the rooms cost a little more here. Corniglia is the town in the middle and is the only one not on the water. It is nestled over 300 feet up into the hillside and is accessible from the train station by nearly 400 steps. It is the smallest of the towns and also the quietest. The views from the rooms here are second to none and the rates are a little cheaper in terms of money, but you make up the difference in walking up the steps!