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Monterosso, the northernmost town of the Cinque Terre, 93km (58 miles) E of Genoa

Rocky coves, dramatic cliffs, and Apennine ridges are the spectacular backdrop to the Cinque Terre (Five Lands), which consists of five fishing and wine-making villages dramatically perched along a 11-mile stretch of Italy’s Ligurian coast. Terraced vineyards and olive groves that climb slopes that are largely inaccessible by road, but have become a hiker’s haven stretching southeast from Monterosso al Mare to Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.

Not too surprisingly, these charms have not gone unnoticed, and American tourists especially have been coming here in increasing numbers. From May to October (weekends are worst), you are likely to find yourself in a long procession of like-minded, English-speaking trekkers making their way down the coast or elbow to elbow with day-trippers from cruise ships. It’s gotten so bad that for the past few years Italy has been outlining plans to limit the number of daily visitors to this UNESCO World Heritage site; if that were enacted, hikers wanting to access the Cinque Terre trails might be required to buy tickets ahead of time.

So yes, it’s beautiful, expecially in the off-season months. But are its good looks blotted out by crowds? Some think so.