The Cinque Terre is my favorite stretch of Mediterranean coastline. On this two-month research and TV production trip, I gave myself one day off, and I slotted it in right here.
Unfortunately, cruise lines are now stopping in La Spezia (the gateway to the Cinque Terre), and their thousands of passengers are congesting these otherwise-peaceful towns. When the cruise ships are in, midday can be miserable, both in the towns — like Vernazza, pictured here — and on the trails. But if you’re out early (before 10:00) or late (after 17:00), there are no crowd problems at all.