Manarola, the second village of the Cinque Terre coming from La Spezia, is perhaps, among others, the most picturesque village, made up of the characteristic perched and colorful tower-houses that overlook the alleys and the main street.
Manarola looks like a village in miniature: The village develops around the main road that retraces the course of the Groppo stream, which is now covered and no longer visible. Numerous alleyways and stone alleys branch off from the main street, all to be discovered, to reach the sides of the promontory and the houses higher up.
The main square of the village is higher than the rest of the town. Among the houses that stand on top of the village a white pyramid is visible, which, historically, has always had the function to signal the ships.
The first historical testimonies on Manarola belong to the second half of the thirteenth century, linked to the events of the Fieschi di Lavagna family. Passed under the dominion of Genoa, the town experienced a progressive development, becoming one of the major producers of oil and wine.
It is to this agricultural vocation that Manarola probably owes the origin of its name: derived from a dialectal Manaraea, it dates back to an ancient magna Roea, that is to say magna rota, or ‘big wheel’ from a water mill.
Today this town is known not only for its beauty, but also for the wines that are produced in the surrounding area, such as “sciacchetrà”.
From the Manarola railway station it is possible to take the via dell’amore, the scenic path to reach Riomaggiore .
Where to Sleep in Manarola
Manarola is a very popular destination for tourists from all over the world but it is not very big. Even if over the years the choice of solutions for staying in this splendid village has expanded a lot, still today it cannot be said that there is an abundance of places to sleep.
For this reason it is advisable to plan your stay well in advance by booking as soon as possible. In this way it will be possible to choose the ideal solution for your trip, be it a hotel, an apartment or a B&B.
To choose the right accommodation you can also not check the map: all the accommodations are in the historic center, very close to each other. The quality / price ratio of the structures in Manarola is quite good even if it cannot be said that they are cheap.
How to get to Manarola
Those who want to reach Manarola by train can do so with the Genoa-La Spezia line. The train is undoubtedly the most recommended way. There are trains approximately every 20 minutes. Once you arrive at the station, go through the short tunnel that leads right to the center of the Borgo.
If you want to reach Manarola by car you have to take the coastal road of the Cinque Terre that connects Monterosso in Riomaggiore following the signs for the town.
Reaching the Borgo by boat is also a very fun and suggestive option during the summer. The boats that connect the Cinque Terre, active from 1 April to 1 November, depart from La Spezia, Portovenere, Levanto and Portofino .
What to see in Manarola
Manarola is small but has many things to see and many views to photograph. Here is the complete list of the points of interest of this wonderful Borgo.
Church of San Lorenzo
The church of San Lorenzo is the main monument of Manarola and was built in 1338 by the inhabitants of Manarola and Volastra.
This church is in Gothic style and the rose window on the facade is of great architectural importance. The bell tower is detached from the main structure and historically had defensive sighting functions.
La Via dell'Amore
The Via dell’Amore is the spectacular path carved into the rock that connects Manarola and Riomaggiore.
Nestled in a pristine environment and unique views of the rocks and the blue sea, is undoubtedly one of the most famous and most beautiful scenic roads in Italy.
Ruins of the fortress
The fortress of Manarola was built in the twelfth century to defend the village from the raids of Saracen pirates. Later it represented the real nucleus of the ancient country.
Today some parts are still well preserved and visible, others have been incorporated by the houses perched on the sea.
There are no visible parts, however, of the ancient castle, which was built together with the bastion.
The Manarola nativity scene
They say it is the largest nativity scene in the world. Certainly, given the extraordinary location, it is one of the most evocative and also one of the most ecological.
For about forty years, 8 December in Manarola has been the day of the procession and the lighting of the nativity scene: 300 characters all life-size (including angels, wise men, farmers and fishermen) fill light the hill.
The idea came to a retired railway worker, Mario Andreoli, who originally wanted to replace the three old worn wooden crosses with three illuminated crosses, for a promise made to his father.
From then on, year after year, with a long and patient work, he was able to create his characters (1 to 3 meters high) using only recycled material.
Today it takes days and the work of many volunteers to stage, every year, the nativity scene illuminated by about 15,000 light bulbs and served by 8 kilometers of electrical cables.
Since 2007, the crib is even more environmentally friendly: the hut of the Child Jesus photovoltaic panels have been installed to ensure all necessary electricity.
The crib is visible every day (is lit at nightfall) from 8 December to late January.
Via Belvedere is a suggestive panoramic point where you can take photos and enjoy a breathtaking view. A real balcony overlooking the sea and the village of Manarola.
To reach it you have to go to the lower part of the village. Once you arrive near the port you have to go up to Piazza Eugenio Montale.
Santuario di Nostra Signora della Salute
The Santuario di Nostra Signora della Salute is located in the hamlet of Volastra and can be reached via a pleasant path that runs along a stream.
It is a church built in the 10th century with the simple lines of the Romanesque style.
Port of Manarola
The Port of Manarola is certainly an interesting point of view from which to admire the village. Boats dock here, but the clean, deep water makes this body of water perfect for a swim or a refreshing dip.
Oratorio dei Disciplinati
The oratory is located in the square of the Church of the Nativity and dates back to the 15th century. Today it is a very simple church with a facade decorated with a small glass rose window on top.
Among the oldest villages of the Cinque Terre National Park is Volastra which dates back to the Etruscan era. Built along the ancient Via Aurelia, its name means “Land of Olives”.
Volastra is a place of great charm where it is possible to admire, in addition to the panorama, the original Ligurian dry terraces where vines and olive trees have always been cultivated.
ACCOMMODATION A MANAROLA
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