Manarola, like a colourful painting in the heart of the Cinque Terre
The yellow to warm orange houses proudly stand out from the dark cliffs, in a wonderfully bold contrast of colours.
Here, perched on top of a high, sheer rock that juts out over the sea, is the peaceful and romantic town of Manarola.
The mighty nature of the Cinque Terre National Park is furrowed by paths that mark the perfect routes to admire the vineyards and olive groves on the traditional terraces.
In the scenic village
At 70 metres above sea level, you can explore the maze of steep, narrow streets enveloped in salty air that branch off from the little square by the sea. The age-old village dates back to the year 1000, when it was chosen for its strategic position as a lookout and defence against Saracen pirate raids.
After appreciating the most beautiful churches, including the Gothic church of San Lorenzo, we recommend heading towards the beautiful Belvedere: a scenic lookout over the water that offers breathtaking panoramic views.
Be sure not to miss out on the chance to admire the unique Genoese-style “tower houses”, on several floors and leaning against each other. There is no real beach here, but you can go down to the water from the rocks in the marina area.
The paths connecting the Cinque Terre
Manarola is the hamlet of another village in the Cinque Terre, Riomaggiore, which it is connected to by a beautiful, one-and-a-half-kilometre footpath up the hill that separates the two villages.
Another scenic route starts directly from the village and connects Manarola to Corniglia. Here, you will find yourself in the typical “cultural landscape” of the Cinque Terre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
You are sure to be fascinated by the terraces built using an ancient Roman technique to cultivate the inaccessible mountain slopes. Olive groves, orchards and vineyards stretch out across the terraces, forming a charming backdrop.
Bold cuisine, combining land and sea
Manarola's agricultural and seafaring soul is expressed through simple but extraordinary cuisine, where land and sea combine to create fantastic flavours, enhanced by excellent wines.
Despite being a small village, it has become a mecca for lovers of good food, thanks to the wealth and quality of its restaurants.
The local extra virgin olive oil is superb: delicious on bruschetta or accompanying grilled fish and vegetables, perfectly paired with the Cinque Terre DOC white wines.
Ligurian focaccia is recognised as among the best on the coast.
You will find countless fantastic restaurants, so take your pick! You can dine in a hillside restaurant, sat among the lemon trees as you admire the scenery from up high, or you can book a table in the village, at one of the delightful stone restaurants among the alleyways or overlooking the sea, towards the harbour. Anchovies, octopus and squid are among the most common seafood delicacies, best preceded by pesto and tomato bruschetta, also a delectable aperitif.
Vegetables and herbs fill the Torta Salata Pasqualina Italian Easter pie, and we highly recommend tucking in to some stuffed and fried courgette flowers!
A touch of class comes with dessert, accompanied by a glass of well-chilled Sciacchetrà: an age-old precious passito wine from grapes cultivated among terraced vineyards, listed among the Slow Food Presidia.
5 tips for travellers
We recommend travelling to Manarola by train and then walking from then on.
The Cinque Terre National Park has a complicated road system and there are no large car parks.
In the village, make sure to take part in wine tastings and cooking classes: this unique experience will not only be a delight for your taste buds, but also rich in culture.
The Cinque Terre Card gives you access to various services, including guided tours among the vineyards of the Manarola Foundation.
Be sure to head to the pier where the boats for the Cinque Terre depart. From Manarola, you can explore an enchanting stretch of coastline by sea, taking in all the details of the rugged coastline, including cliffs, caves and coves.