Yes, Cinque Terre is touristy, but in a good, classy way. Restaurants serve only local food, there’s a well-marked and well-maintained system of hiking trails, and there’s even an electric bus service between the towns. In other words, the local tourism board has got it together. They’ve got vision, and traveling here is a joy.
There’s more to hiking in Cinque Terre than the five famous towns on the coast. Go up into the hills and you can wander around all day, meet a local hunter or even a wild boar or two.
We stayed at the Hotel Il Saraceno in the village of Volastra and were very pleased with it. It’s no problem to reach the hotel by car or local bus, but you’ll have to climb 800 steps (albeit through beautiful terraced farmland and great for the cardiovascular system) to get back to the hotel after dinner in Manarola. The next morning, though, you’ll be that much closer to the trails that wind through the hills above the towns.
The I Tetti di Genova B&B in Genoa is a good place. Artsy, homey rooms, self-serve breakfasts, and right in the center of the city