This is a series of five fishing and wine-producing villages that are connected by hiking trail. It is possible to hike from village to village through lush green areas with wild blueberries and apricots growing trailside. The trail is now a national park, so there is a minor fee to hike, but it is well worth it. Summers in the Cinque Terre find flocks of Europeans crowding into the narrow streets and pebbly beaches of Monterosso and Vernazza in particular. Spend a lazy day spent napping on the beach, splashing in the clear turquoise water, or wandering the cramped alleyways. Monterosso is home to the famed, heavenly-sweet dessert wine, Sciacchetra, as well as limoncello liquor. Corniglia offers birds-eye vistas from its perch on the rocky cliffs high above the Ligurian Sea. It is home to many of the vineyards growing the variety of Cinque Terre wines. Manarola is home to the beautiful baroque church of San Lorenzo. Riomaggiore, with its buildings seeming to tumble off the cliffs above, is the most authentic, "real" Italian village. A little time spent here will give you a good indication of an Italian lifestyle.
These cities are also connected by train, so commuting back and forth is very easy.
For the more adventurous, there is a nude beach between a couple of the towns. Getting there requires walking through a long, abandoned railroad tunnel, or down a steep hillside trail. The best way to visit the Cinque Terre is just to go...don't plan, just find the town you like best and wander the streets. Signs proclaiming "camere" mean a cheap, comfy room for rent, without the touristy atmosphere--definitely the best way to go here.