Concierge.com's insider take:
On a rainy day in January it may be difficult to see its charms, but come here on a weekend in August when there are pedestrian traffic jams down in Vernazza, and you realize why Cinque Terre aficionados have a soft spot for Corniglia. It is the least touristy of the five villages, so it's a good place to sip a glass of wine, loosen the walking boots, and take stock. Perched on a rocky spur above the waves, Corniglia's tall houses seem to turn their backs on the sea. As, indeed, did the original inhabitants of the Cinque Terre: Even after they moved downhill from their mountain refuges in the Middle Ages, most locals continued to work the land. Once upon a time, the only way to get up to the village was to climb the winding road or the 377-step staircase from the station, but the Parco Nazionale now runs a minibus service between station and village, which is free for holders of the Cinque Terre Treno card, which gives you unlimited train travel on the line from La Spezia to Levanto. Below the station is a pebbly, boulder-strewn beachnot exactly Caribbean caliber, but fine for a quick dip.