The colorful and vibrant towns (or hamlets) of the Cinque Terre (UNESCO World Heritage Site) are a definite must! We visited the Cinque Terre on our trip to Milan in August 2014 and absolutely loved it.
We stayed for 3 nights in Riomaggiore in a B&B close to the water and spent our time exploring the town, hiking some of the top hiking trails, taking a boat trip to the other towns, and visiting the beach in Monterroso al Mare. We found this amazing Calamari stand in Riomaggiore that was the best calamari ever! (We probably stopped by at least 5 times while we were there.)
TRANSPORTATION: We drove from Verona through Mantua and Parma (3 hours through beautiful scenery) but we'd highly recommend not driving to the Cinque Terre, (or at least into the hamlets) because it can be really hard to park and/or cars are not allowed.
HOTEL: We stayed here. It was a small and inexpensive B&B in a great location in Riomaggiore. The owner was really nice and it was pretty close to the water on the main road (which is great since it's a steep climb back to your hotel). She also had a parking spot we could use for our car in the closest parking garage available.