Monterosso al Mare
Concierge.com's insider take:
Monterosso is the only one of the Cinque Terre villages that even begins to resemble a seaside resort. Significantly larger than the other four villages, and with the lion's share of the hotels, it also boasts two sandy beachesa rare commodity around these parts. The main beach faces the old town at the mouth of the Buranco River valley. From here, beyond the handsome 12th-century church of San Giovanni Battista, the main street winds uphill, lined with shops selling Sciacchetrà dessert wine and other local products. Back at the beach, a pedestrian tunnel leads to the seaside promenade, Via Fegina, which is also where you'll find the train station (note that this is the only one of the Cinque Terre train stations where you can buy long-distance train ticketsfor Rome, Venice, or Florence, for example). Fegina Beach, a safe (though crowded) option for families with children, is a long, narrow strand that ends at an odd rock-perched sculpted figure known as Il Gigante. Monterosso's once-flourishing fishing industry survives in the Centro di Salagione, a modern space dedicated to an ancient art: the salting of the prized "red anchovies" that are found in these waters. You can sample them for free and buy anchovy paste and other products here (2/4 Via Servano).