Would like to spend a day in Cinque Terre (at least 2 towns if possible - which are the best?? as in most interesting/least touristy/but accessible :) Appears we could travel Pisa Centrale > La Spezia > Riomaggiore for around €22 on Trenitalia.com and can book a week in advance? Greatly appreciate your suggestions and thoughtful knowledge!!
Megan, If you have a full day, there's no reason you couldn't see all five towns. Tickets on the local trains are very cheap, and travel times from one town to the next are very short (DON'T forget to validate!). As you noted, you'll enter through La Spezia and will likely have to change trains there. The ride from there to Riomaggiore is only about eight minutes. It's difficult to say which towns are "best" and "most interesting" as that's somewhat a matter of personal opinion. Each of the towns is somewhat unique, and each has their own personality. The most popular (and possibly most crowded) will be Vernazza. The least popular is likely Corniglia, as it's located high on a rock bluff (you can either take the small shuttle up from the station or walk up about 400 steps). Monterosso is the largest, with the nicest beaches and greatest number of restaurants and other shops. If you're travelling on a Regionale train from Pisa to the C.T., it's not necessary to book a week in advance. Just buy your tickets at the station, perhaps the day before you'll be travelling. DON'T forget to validate prior to boarding the train on the day of travel, or you could face hefty fines which will be collected on the spot! If the train you choose to take is an Intercity or Freccia, there will be compulsory reservations, which will be included with the ticket. It may be an advantage to book those well in advance as savings are possible. When travelling on premium trains, be sure that you have valid reservations, or again, hefty fines. Happy travels!
Greatly appreciate your suggestions and assistance, Ken! Thank you!