Manarola, the second of the Cinque Terre, rises in the valley of the Groppo stream. Progressively buried from 1950 to 1978, the stream crossed the village in the place of Via Discovolo, today the main road, surmounted by stone bridges that joined the two parts of the village.
Of ancient origins, Manarola was probably founded by the inhabitants of the settlement of Volastra, a village located just above, and its name derives from the Latin "Manium arula", a small temple dedicated to the Mani, Roman Gods. For others, however, the name derives from ancient terms to indicate the millstone, Magna Roea (large wheel), given the agricultural vocation of the village. Mentioned for the first time in the 13th century, Manarola links its history to the Fieschi di Lavagna and the Republic of Genoa since 1273.
What to see
Manarola is therefore structured along Via Discovolo, which upstream of the town opens into the square where the religious buildings of the village are concentrated: the 15th-century oratory of the Disciplinati, the building of the Lazzaretto or ancient hospital of San Rocco, today a private house, the bell tower, an ancient sighting building and the 1338 church of San Lorenzo. The church is in Ligurian Gothic style, with three naves, the façade in local sandstone, a 1375 rose window in Carrara marble, and the bas-relief of the Martyrdom of San Lorenzo in the lunette.
Along Via Discovolo there are the characteristic colored tower-houses, perched on a steep promontory of dark rock. The other narrow streets, called "carruggi" are joined by a series of slate stairways. In the last stretch of Via Belvedere opens a balcony overlooking the sea towards Riomaggiore, in a suggestive square dedicated to Eugenio Montale, where you can admire the sunset sitting on a bench.
Via Discovolo opens into the Marina di Manarola, becoming Via Birolli, where the small port is located, and continuing on the right towards Corniglia, towards the cemetery, up to Punta Bonfiglio, a typical panoramic point from which to take photographs of the colored houses leaning against each other. Clearly visible from here and from the Marina, you can see a tower incorporated into the village, today a private home, the only testimony of the ancient thirteenth-century castle that remains today, placed in defense of Turkish raiders.
If you are a fan of Manarola, here you will find a more detailed description on what to visit.
Where to sleep (updated 2021)
Places to stay are located either in Manarola or in nearby Volastra, located on a hill above the village. Most of them are rooms and b&b. Thera are a few hotels in Manarola.
Where to eat (update 2021)
Spoiled for choice for the alleys of Manarola: restaurants and trattorie are everywhere, ideal for enjoying the cuisine of the Cinque Terre, based on fish, or in a more informal way in bars or winebars for a focaccia, a slice of pizza or an ice cream.
Behind Punta Bonfiglio is the Palaedo slipway, where you can swim carefully. In fact, Manarola does not have a real beach, but only the rocky area between the Marina and Palaedo. Beaches in Manarola
During the Christmas period, on the hill of the Three Crosses, the hill on the right looking from the church square, from December the 8 until the end of January, the suggestive luminous crib lights up, the work of master Mario Andreoli, a retired railway worker since 1961. Also here, in the Easter period, a luminous Via Crucis is set up, while on August the 10, San Lorenzo, patron saint of the town, a representation of the Saint is lit with the grill, while in the village a procession takes place.
The trekking trails
There are numerous trekking trails that cross the village, especially the Via dell'Amore, a road carved into the rock overlooking the sea, which leads to Riomaggiore, currently closed due to landslides, as well as the coastal stretch towards Corniglia. The path that leads to Corniglia touching Volastra, through vineyards and dry stone walls, is very suggestive. In Volastra there is the sanctuary of Manarola, of Romanesque origin, dedicated to Our Lady of Health. Just beyond Volastra there is Groppo, another hilly town located along the coast road to Riomaggiore, from where you can enjoy wonderful views over the typical terraced vineyards of the Cinque Terre.
How to get
By car, Manarola can be reached from La Spezia, along the Cinque Terre coastal road. The journey is quite comfortable, except for the last stretch of descent towards the village. However, it is not recommended to use the car due to the lack of parking. In fact, there is only a small paid parking lot for non-residents at the beginning of the town. The most comfortable means of transport is certainly the train, coming from La Spezia or Levanto, with numerous frequencies, even if in the summer, always very crowded. From Manarola station, a short tunnel emerges in Via Discovolo, halfway between the Marina on the left below and the square of the church of San Lorenzo, on the right above.