We chose to stay in the town of Monterosso in the Cinque Terre because it's a beach town with a fun, lively reputation. While it's the largest of the five towns, it's still pretty darn tiny. There's not much to do except enjoy the beach and wander around in search of snacks or tourist trinkets. Active travelers can hike the trail that links the five towns, but we are not those people. Monterosso has been "discovered" and is definitely overrun with tourists, but it's still a worthwhile place to visit and we wished we'd had another day or two to hang out on the beach here. Definitely book your accommodations early because we got what we were told was the very last available room in town! It had that bottom-of-the-barrel essence to it, complete with one full minute of hot water per shower and the owner's personal romantic arousal spray/cream/lotion (tried not to look too closely) in the bathroom.
There's a small free public beach, but most of the strand is private and we paid 23 euros to use the chairs and umbrellas for the day on the privately owned stretch of strand. It was money very well spent. You should try to reserve your spot on the beach in advance, too, because first row chairs sell out months in advance in the high season. We spent the entire day hanging out on the beach, each of us reading a whole book. Sarah read The Girl on the Train and Hirsh read History of the Ancient Romans. Our book choices should come as a surprise to exactly no one who knows us.
Of course, we had to take a dip. Check out that water! It's incredibly beautiful, clean and clear and basically looks like Kool Aid. Unlike Kool Aid, it's extra salty, so we were extra buoyant.
We had dinner in the old town, just steps from our apartment. The food was OK, but the people-watching was great. One of the more fun things about eating in Monterosso's old town is the resident cat that wanders from restaurant to restaurant begging for scraps. As you can imagine, he's pretty chubby, but somehow always managed to sneak away before we could get a picture. If you ever have an occasion to meet him, know that he's especially fond of fish. At one point, he sat in a restaurant kitchen's window and they fed him fish scraps as they cooked our dinner.
Below are some less interesting pictures of what we had for dinner: caprese salad (of course), gnocchi with shrimp, and salmon ravioli.
After dinner, we followed the music to the heart of town - about a 20 second walk away - and enjoyed a live performance of some American classics by this fun band.