I went to Italy and France last June, 2014 for 4 weeks and will never forget the Cinque Terre. It was in the middle of our trip, we had just taken the train from Rome, to Venice, to Milan, and finally to La Spezia, which takes you to the Cinque Terre. The name itself means “The Five Lands”; it is composed of five towns on the italian riviera coastline including Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. You have probably seen pictures of these beautiful little seaside towns perched high atop the Mediterranean with their colorful buildings and lush, green landscapes. I happened to be there with a good friend from middle school, but the towns were so incredibly romantic I had wished I was there with a special someone. We stayed in Riomaggiore, the southernmost town. The amazing thing about this group of villages is there are no roads or highways for traffic to flood. You travel from city to city by train, boat or hiking. The Cinque Terre rests on a national park and world heritage site, so there are hiking trails from town to town. We took the train from Riomaggiore to Monterosso al Mare, and hiked down to Vernazza passing vineyards and olive groves. Each town has fresh, family run restaurants with delicious seafood, pasta and wine. The towns offer a crisp white wine called Sciacchetrà, a product of local vineyards, along with freshly caught fish garnished with local lemons. Cinque Terre is also known for its fabulous gelato, which you must try when you are soaking up the sun on the beach. Corniglia is known for making gelato with local honey. The water is a crystal turquoise, and there are many places to jump in and cool off. We also kayaked from Riomaggiore to Manarola and back; the views were absolutely stunning. I hope to come back one day with a special someone (sorry Ashley!), and find my favorite hidden gem family run restaurant in Riomaggiore overlooking the sea.