|Subject: Re: Re Questions about Cinque Terre|
It's been a few years since I did this, but here's a suggestion. A private water taxi isn't necessary since there are commercial ferries which go back and forth along the Cinque Terre pretty much all day. Most start in either Portovenere or La Spezia and stop at each of the five towns. Be careful that in getting on and off you stay only on the local boats, as a few of them don't make all the stops and in fact go all the way on to Genova. In this way you could actually see all of the towns if you wanted, and could even do one or two of the shorter walks between towns if you chose, picking up ferries along the way. Although the walk between Manarola and Riomaggiore is quite short, be careful which walk you choose (if you do) since a couple of them involve hundreds of vertical steps.
There are several advantages to this approach. The train stations are not that convenient for getting down into the actual towns in order to explore. The stations are usually high up along the ridge of cliffs that run above the coast, while the boats drop you off essentially in the center of town. In addition, seeing the Cinque Terre from the water gives you a wonderfully different vantage point.
By the way, my favorite town along this coastline is Portovenere, which isn't strictly speaking one of the Five Towns. There is a wonderful view of the entire coastline from the castle ruins at the top of Portovenere's little peninsula, and some great restaurants along the waterfront. We also saw a budding artist's colony here, and in general found it much less discovered than the Cinque Terre.
Joel in Chicago