Manarola, strikingly beautiful

Manarola , the second in order of appearance after Riomaggiore , is perhaps the purest essence of the Cinque Terre. It stands out as the most iconic, the most spectacular, the most dramatic of the 5 villages of the Cinque Terre... and yes.. also the most instagrammed. Manarola is the one who has been able to supplant all the others and become the cover photo you end up using as a desktop background eventually. Manarola has become a wallpaper and inevitably has been the one from which Disney artists have taken most inspiration for the Cinque Terre themed movie "Luca". Is Manarola the most beautiful of the Cinque Terre? Well, it's hard to say, but if you can only visit one, maybe this could be it. How delightful to see it appear the first time as a quick light getting out of the tunnel aboard the train...

Manarola This is Liguria

Manarola beaches

There are no beaches in Manarola . Here you can swim diving among the rocks, where you find a spot: on the pier, on a rock, near the marina, being careful not to get hurt and with the utmost attention. It is pretty clear that the beaches of Manarola are not suitable for families and small children. But they are a dream for those who enjoy snorkelling and open water swimming. To be completely honest it is super nice to bathe here, but especially in summer there is always a lot of coming and going of boats and ferries and kayaks, and so it can be a bit annoying. Usually, it is better to just put the towel down somewhere and dedicate yourself to tanning.

However, no one worries, there is always a way to remedy the lack of beaches in Manarola. Just take the train or the boat and move to Monterosso or Vernazza, the two villages best equipped from a beach point of view, those with bathing establishments and sandy beaches that Manarola does not have but certainly would like to have. An alternative, then, is to go a little further away, but not too much, and reach Levanto, the most beautiful and spacious beach of fine sand in the area. Bonassola is another great idea, it's technically also not Cinque Terre, but trust us when we say you will not be disappointed. 

Manarola spiagge beaches

Manarola hotel

It's an excellent idea to stop to sleep in Manarola in a hotel , because here, as never before, b & bs, hotels and holiday homes are an integral part of the town itself. A night in Manarola allows you to really appreciate the magic of the Cinque Terre, the nuances and all the colors and atmosphere of the evening and early mornings that with a day trip you can never fully appreciate. The rock that changes color as the sun moves, the vineyards that become more and more golden as sunset approaches, the sea that abandons the blue to become a black mirror, waiting to be the background for our nights . The hotels in Manarola that we propose on This is Liguria must be nothing more than this: a part of the city, a way to experience it even for those who have not had the good fortune to be born in these parts.

Manarola what to see

Among the things to see in Manarola first of all, there is of course the intricate maze of alleyways, stairways, churches, which make up the heart of the town. The opportunities for photography are endless. Manarola is all to be photographed: it seems created for Instagram. Walking through Manarola means looking for small viewpoints, walks carved into the rock, old tiny vineyards. Each place will take your breath away. But just turn around the corner and the next one will dazzle you even more with its beauty.

What is the best view of Manarola? Many say it is the one you can enjoy from Punta Bonfiglio , a short pedestrian walk that begins at the town's marina. The other point not to be missed is Piazzetta Eugenio Montale, at the end of a small street whose name says it all, Via Belvedere.

Manarola This is Liguria

Then there are the beautiful churches, the most notable of which is the gothic church of San Lorenzo dated 1338. Its rose window is marvelous, as this is the most important church of the town. In the center of Manarola, moreover, we meet two other notable buildings: the Bell tower and the Oratory of the Disciplinati , a short distance from each other, in the upper part of Manarola. They are located a few steps from the main street of the village and they are absolutely delicious. What is unsual about the bell tower is that it is detached from the main building. The reason is that before fulfilling the current function, its use was totally another one: it was a watchtower for the defense of the village from the attacks of pirates, the Saracens of the old and fearsome Ottoman Empire.

Among other things to see in Manarola the guides will never forget to talk about the Castle , and of its only preserved bastion. Actually there is not much left, it could even go unnoticed but it is interested to observe it to see how with time it became part of the village as private homes were built using its walls.

Impossible not to notice, or rather to follow, are actually some of the streets of Manarola. Make sure to check them out.

The first is undoubtedly thestreet of Palaedo , who just recently turned 50. It was in fact built in 1969 in order to connect the marina to the Palaedo landing, here is where the boats that connect Manarola to the other Cinque Terre and other towns of the eastern Ligurian Riviera dock. It is a little less than 300 meters of walk builton the rock and which allow you to fully enjoy the beauty of the place.

Via Discovolo is the main street of Manarola. The pleasure is to go along it simply with the curiosity to see what happens in the village, what people buy, what people eat. Observe where the Manarolese do their shopping, where they go down to have a coffee and chat about what is happening in the world, and in the Cinque Terre.

The other road, not to be missed, among the things to see in Manarola is the Via dell'Amore , the most famous of all, yet closed. We will talk about it a little below, for now it is enough to say that there used to be a toll so crowded it had became due to its beauty and thus popularity, while today it is possible to walk just a few hundred meters.

Finally, there is the Sentiero Azzurro or Light Blue trail . This is an articulated path, to be covered over several days, and which allows you to move between all the Cinque Terre and up to Portovenere. The stretch that interests us is the one that connects Manarola to Corniglia, which we recommend to take just starting from Corniglia and towards Manarola: the spectacle of seeing Manarola appear around a bend after this fantastic hike, in fact, is really something special!

Manarola nativity scene, Il Presepe

The nativity scene of Manarola it is a work of art that honors the Italian genius, our traditions and literally makes an entire country shine. How to explain it in words This is the biggest nativity scene in the world. It was a local man came up with idea: "Why should we limit ourselves with a small Presepe (nativity scene) inside the church? We have this wonderful hill of olive trees and vineyards that is the perfect setting!". And so, a crazy idea every year on December 8, becomes reality and thanks to kilometers of electric cables, recycled materials and tens of thousands of light bulbs around 300 characters come to life.

From the child to the donkey, from the shepherd to the local farmers, everything is depicted in an incredible show. When darkness falls, the Manarola nativity scene comes to life and steals the show from the entire village. Obviously it is present in the Guinness Book of World Records, and recenlty it has even turned green: it is now completely powered by solar panels installed precisely for its operation. It remains in operation and mounted on the sides of the hill until the end of January. It is quite moving to know that all this is the work of one person.

Manarola Riomaggiore: the way of Love, La Via dell'Amore

Manarola and Riomaggiore , separated only by a hill, a road, and a ten year old andslide. Thus could begin a typical italian story, those stories of drama that never end. Yes, because the route Manarola Riomaggiore had become La Via dell'Amore (The way of love), a path overlooking the sea that on its own was good enough reason to embark on the journey to the Cinque Terre. But why the name? Certainly the charm of the landscape has contributed in no small way, but the nickname originated from something else, something rooted in the history of the place. At the time of the construction of the railway, this path was used to open the tunnel of the train with shots of dynamite. But when the work was completed and the path abandoned by the workers, the local kids took over: all of a sudden it had become easy to fall in love with a figgieou (kid, in Ligurian dialect) from Riomaggiore even for a girl from Manarola, and vice versa. It took less than 20 minutes on foot, before there was a mountain to overcome. United in the name of love by dynamite, quite an interesting story.

Since 2012, however, this road has been closed to the public. No more romantic walks: a landslide came to separate again Manarola & Riomaggiore. The works are at the stage of the final project, and before the coronavirus, it was said that they would be finished in 2023.

Manarola parking

In Manarola, parking is scarce like water in the desert . Better not count on it and better try to reach the village by other means. For the most stubborn: you can always try to park along the road that connects Manarola to Riomaggiore and then continues on to La Spezia. Here, between one sign and another, some parking lots have been built and a few more spots may pop out, traffic police permitting. A shuttle bus runs along this road that connects the parking area of Manarola to the entrance to the historic center of the town. It brings down those who do not want to walk for 1.50 euro every half hour, depending on the season.

As for the prices of the paid parking in Manarola, the closest to the entrance to the town, the hourly rate starts from 2 euro per hour, and goes up to 20 euro for the whole day (24 hours).).

Manarola how to get there

To get to Manarola the options are always the classic ones: in the order of convenience they are the train, the ferry, and the car.

The train is usually the primary choice for all those who want to get to Manarola as part of a day in the Cinque Terre, and which also includes other villages of the magical five. Manarola has its own station on the Genoa-La Spezia line, where practically all the regional trains stop, plus a few "fast" regional ones. In the first case, if you come from Genoa, it takes more than two hours. In the second, just over 1 hour. Coming from La Spezia, Manarola is already the second stop and a 15 minutes ride will do. To reach Manarola there are no direct trains from the largest Italian cities, and almost always it will be a question of changing in the area, choosing for the last leg the Cinque Terre Express, a Trenitalia convoy with good frequency that starts from Levanto and reaches La Spezia making all the stops in the Cinque Terre. 

Come raggiungere Manarola

The second way we recommend to get to Manarola is to take the ferry, managed by the Compagnia di Navigazione del Golfo dei poeti. Their boats shuttle from Portovenere (sometimes La Spezia) to Monterosso (sometimes Levanto, but also Deiva Marina andMoneglia). Then, in the summer, there are also ships for Genoa, viaCamogli, and Tuscany: Viareggio, Marina di Massa and Marina di Carrara.

Finally, there is always the possibility of getting to Manarola by car, crossing La Spezia and continuing on the SP 370 up to Riomaggiore and then for another 5 km until reaching the destination in Manarola. The road is also travelled by the bus, but this will be more frequenly used by the local inhabitants of the various hamlets than by visitors on a trip like us.

Manarola Portovenere

The ferry is also the best solution to move from Manarola to Portovenere and viceversa. There are regular rides, every day of the week, from March to November. The cost is just over ten euros per person, one way. For the great walkers, there would also be the blue path to walk between the two. A splendid walk, indeed a real excursion of over 6 hours of hiking. Since The way to love (Via dell'Amore) is still closed, at the moment you have to leave Riomaggiore to get going, unless you want to add to the 6 hours more time on your feet. Trekking shoes, on this trail, are definetely required

The views of Andrea and Katerina

Manarola, for us, is like a punch. It hits you: as if all the sensations that the Cinque Terre bring with them came in one fell swoop, intense and powerful like an unexpected slap. In Manarola all the elements (the colors, the sea, the mountains, the vineyards, the clouds, the paths, the delightful squares, the fish, the boats) are like the five fingers of one hand turning into a clenched fist which will hit you and you must make sure not to get hurt too much. Yes, at the end of a visit here, it will be painful to return to reality