(2006) Cinque Terre has moved into the number one spot for the favorite place that I have visited. Cinque Terre (five lands) comprise of five coastal villages clinging to the sides of the mountains. These villages haven't changed a lot in the last few hundred years. The area is now a national park with plenty of hiking trails and breathtaking scenery. The towns are only one to two miles from each other, so you can hike through all five towns in one day on a seven mile trail. We completed about five miles of the trail, starting in Vernazza and making stops in Corniglia, Manrola and Riomaggiore. Wow! What a beautiful hike.
We stayed in Vernazza, and it turned out to be my favorite of the five. There are no hotels or B&Bs. The locals rent rooms, and we got a fabulous room from Daria with a private balcony overlooking their main street (vernazzarooms.com). Cars are not permitted in most of the towns, so we parked the car in Monterosso and took the four minute train ride to Vernazza. A railroad connects the towns via extensive tunnels through the mountains.
The folks of Vernazza are very friendly (as in the other towns we visited), and I felt at home immediately amongst the 500 or so residents. We finished each day fresh seafood and Cinque Terre wine.