Bonus town: Levanto
If you have extra time and five towns simply isn’t enough for you, the Cinque Terre Card also allows you to take the train to a pair of neighboring cities—Levanto to the north and La Spezia to the south. It’s a useful option for catching connecting trains to other parts of Italy and Europe or breaking up your Cinque Terre vacation with something a little different.
It’s not a world of difference, but Levanto is bigger than the Cinque Terre towns and it does have a long beach that was mostly uncrowded when I was there. While in Levanto, I also indulged in another Italian food favorite, focaccia. The Ligurian region of Italy (which Cinque Terre and Levanto belong to) specializes in the oven-baked, olive-oil-infused flatbread. And Levanto has at least a couple bakeries that sell focaccia with a variety of toppings.
Check out the delectable focaccia topped with olives, cherry tomatoes and anchovies from Focacceria Il Falcone. Perfect for a quick bite at the nearby beach.
Bonus town: La Spezia
La Spezia is the largest city in the vicinity and is an enjoyable half- or full-day trip from Cinque Terre. In the heart of town, you’ll find the vibrant La Spezia Food Market. A few blocks down is a fantastic restaurant called Locanda del Mercato. Sit out on the patio, order the heavenly bucatini all’Amatriciana and thank me later.
Another notable eatery in La Spezia is La Pia Centenaria. They are known for their farinata (Italian chickpea pancake) and their castagnaccio (chestnut cake, pictured here with its maker/baker).