Tucked into a bay on the east side of the jutting headland of Punta Mesco, MONTEROSSO is the chief village of the Cinque Terre. It's the largest of the five – population 1800 – and most developed, with the modern beach resort of Fegina occupying the shore just west of the old village. Beaches, both free and toll, are broad and picturesque, separated from the narrow lanes of the old quarter by a hill, atop which is the seventeenth-century Convento dei Cappuccini. In the centre of the old village is the striped thirteenth-century church of San Giovanni Battista, while a more recent claim to fame is as the home town of the Nobel Prize-winning poet Eugenio Montale; his Ossi di Seppia (Cuttlefish Bones) is a collection of early poems about his youth in Monterosso.
Monterosso operates the Cinque Terre's main tourist office, in the station (summer 8am–10pm; winter 8am–8pm; Tel:0187.817.059), as well as a Pro Loco tourist association office at Via Fegina 38 (Tel:0187.817.506). Top hotel is the Porto Roca, Via Corone 1 (Tel:0187.817.502, Web: www.portoroca.it ; March– Nov; Price: 151–300), which sits atop the rocks at the end of a narrow lane at the southern end of town. The public areas are decorated in rather dingy style with suits of armour and huge drab pictures, but the bedrooms come with sea views, terraces and sun loungers. Villa Adriana, Via IV Novembre 23 (Tel:0187.818.109, Web: www.villaadriana.info ; Price: 126-150), has its own beach and even some car-parking space, while the Amici, at Via Buranco 36 (Tel:0187.817.544, Web: www.hotelamici.it ; Price: 126-150), is tucked away from the hubbub and has a garden with views of the sea, as well as a good restaurant.