Manarola is a part of the famous five that make up Italy’s most picturesque coastal attraction, the Cinque Terre. Vacayholics submits itself to all the marvels Manarola has to offer, and lists out the top things to do in Manarola.
No, this isn’t the Amalfi Coast.
Both being strikingly spectacular in their own right, many people tend to get confused between Cinque Terre and Costiera Amalfitana. While the former lies in the Liguria region of northwestern Italy, the Amalfi Coast is a stretch of coastline in the southern province of Salerno. The Amalfi Coast has always been a hot favorite with tourists, whereas Cinque Terre still retains its old-world charm, shunning corporate development to a large extent.
The first sight to greet the eyes upon arriving at Cinque Terre during the daytime is the profusion of blue―from the unhindered view of the sky above to the vast expanse of the Mediterranean Sea below you. Somewhere in between are specks of vivid colors―these come from the pop-artsy houses that line the coast and the equally funky shades of bougainvillea dotting the hillside. The sight is jaw-droppingly breathtaking, and can leave first timers numb for hours on end.
THINGS TO DO IN MANAROLA, CINQUE TERRE
So, when one is amidst such a picture-perfect landscape, the first question that begs to be answered is why would anyone want to do anything while they’re here? Oh, we’re just kidding. Of course, you’d want to make the most of your holiday in Cinque Terre and Manarola in particular, although lazing around doing nothing is highly recommended.
Begin By Taking A Walk
Walking is the best way to explore this heavenly section of the Italian Riviera. And unless you take the train, there is no other way to get around Cinque Terre National Park, which is also a Protected Marine Area. Vehicles are forbidden from entering in all five villages, including Manarola. Therefore, you’re basically left to your own two feet to take you around.
All five villages are linked to each other via a complex pedestrian path. You either take a train to commute between the villages, or make use of the enchanting hiking trail. As the region is a national park, making use of the hiking trail is charged at 7 Euro per day. Ensure that you buy a valid access pass, lest you wish to pay a heftier fine.
It is recommended that you purchase a Cinque Terre Card, which lets you access the park buses and hiking trails. You may even club this with the Treno (train) version, which allows unlimited train travel on the Cinque Terre line. The validity of these cards ranges from a day to a week’s time.
Explore The Village
Manarola happens to be the pick among five villages comprising Cinque Terre. Noted for its charming and pristine landscape, this little fishing village will remain nestled in your heart for a long time to come. Let me remind you again, that you can only navigate these narrow alleys on foot, but it remains the best way to get around here by a long shot.
Set on a on hill, Manarola is 70 meters above sea level, with long-winding streets lined with colorful houses. There isn’t a beach as such, but you will find a tiny harbor here, choc-a-block with fishing boats.
Chomp On The Delicious Focaccia
No Italian holiday can end without a customary salutation to its gastronomical delights. Manarola is certainly not an exception in this regard. The best feature of the village―which also holds true for the Cinque Terre region as a whole―is the complete lack of high-brow or chain restaurants. Eateries here are mainly home-based, offering some very authentic and earthy noms. Seafood dominates the menu, for obvious reasons, but a special mention goes out to the focaccia, an Italian flat bread that is topped with herbs, vegetables, or meat. Dip it in pesto, made with locally-grown basil. Wash your meal down with another locally-made, slightly aromatic white wine. While sit-down meals can be on the expensive side, you can always opt for buying freshly-baked breads and pizzas along with some cheese from grocery stores. These are as delicious, and won’t be too heavy on your pocket.
A Romantic Walk
The Via dell’Amore or ‘Lovers’ Lane’ is a hiking trail connecting Manarola with the neighboring village of Riomaggiore. Considered to be the most romantic stretch of the coastline, there’s even a legend attached to it―this was the supposed meeting place for lovers from these two villages. Today, you’ll find the trail to be more like pavement lining the shore, affording breathtaking views of the surrounding cliffs and the sea. For all you cheesy romantics out there, you can do the lock-and-key routine on the pavement railing here to make your relationship last for a lifetime.
You’ll have to purchase a ticket to walk on this trail, unless you’ve already bought the all-inclusive Cinque Terre Card which offers unlimited access to the entire park.
Admire Unique Architecture
Take a hike to the top of the hill to visit the Church of San Lorenzo. Built in 1338 by the Maestri Antelami, the structure is an excellent representation of Gothic Ligurian architecture. The 14th-century squared bell tower was an ancient defensive building. In the earlier days, this tower doubled up as a watch post for spotting pirate ships approaching the village. Today, the church complex serves as a place for leisurely meetings, as it offers a splendid view of the Mediterranean sunset. Nevertheless, you can visit the area any time during the day, and the architecture is still is a sight to behold.
Since we’re on the topic of the church, Nativity in Manarola is not just the talk of the town, but indeed of the entire world. Commencing on December 8th, until the end January, this tiny village and the entire hills are lit up with more than 200 figures and 12,000 lamps. It makes for the biggest lighted nativity in the world. So, if you’re contemplating coming here during Christmas and New Year, this will act as an incentive.
Manarola’s vineyards lie beyond the San Lorenzo church, which is close to the hilltop. As you take the upward trail, you’ll be able to smell the gentle waft of lemon blossoms, along with rosemary as well. The vineyards are set on the hill slopes, and the locals working here will be much to eager to show you around.
So you see, there are quite a few things you can actually do in Manarola, but we wouldn’t really blame you in case you simply choose to laze around. You can always blame the region’s enchanting beauty for having completely arrested your senses.