I think the Cinque Terre is the best place I’ve ever been, and not just for the beautiful hiking and villages. The people who live there are great, and there’s a special friendly spirit among the travellers who stop there, cooking meals together and sharing nice apartments by the night. While you could get a good taste of it in two days, a lot of people find themselves staying a lot longer than they planned to, so leave some slack in your schedule.
I’ll be using the Cinque Terre as my home base in late September through October 1998, traveling to other parts of Italy and returning to relax in between.
Be sure to explore the centre of La Spezia too, it’s a great town and you’ll find much better food and prices than in the villages. My favourite cafe is “La Suprema” on Piazza S. Agostino.