Lemon soap, pesto sauce, linen shirts and seafood – local products, in short. Add to all those the sea, the sun, the train, the hills and you get Sensations. Then, the groups of American and French tourists invade and you listen, without any intention to do so, to the comments about the area. Or the comments about the jealous ex-husband J).
I do not live extraordinary experiences, as those in Tibet, but I swear I see before my eyes places that really make my day!
Manarola is another gem of the Cinque Terre. The second village, just 3 minutes by train from Riomaggiore. (There are only 500 meters between the two villages!)
Like Riomaggiore, Manarola is the village with only one street. Well, what more does it need?…
And just like Riomaggiore, it has a small harbor where you can swim (well, actually where you can jump head-first), it has colorful tower houses, intertwined with each other, narrow streets with many steps up and a pedestrian tunnel that connects the city to the train station.
Somehow, the scheme of most villages is simple: a main street, a harbor, a church. And other common things. But each one has its own charm. And its vibe. From this point of view, Manarola is a bit higher than Riomaggiore.
MANAROLA – QUICK GUIDE…
From the train station you immediately enter the tunnel that takes you to the city – I would later realize that this tunnel is the only straight road I came across around here J).
You look from above, from a terrace, to see the main street, you definitely take some pictures, and then you go down, greeting the old woman who came out on the doorstep to see some new faces. (My God, how many generations of tourists she must have seen during her life!)
And you take the main street towards the harbor. You can’t get lost here.
The main street, although not very wide, is full of boats. Boats and clothes hung out to dry…
This is a very nice image, which makes you ignore the shops or restaurants on the street. Never mind, this is yet another good reason to come here again and again…
You also go on the side streets on foot, because it’s a shame not to go to the heart of the town and to breathe your heart out on the stairs rows between the houses J). Then a jump into the sea would seem appropriate, to recover.
Well… there’s no beach in Manarola! There is, however, a boat ramp, which some people, inventive as they were, turned into a beach. You could even say that the wooden perches that help lower the boats to the water are clear plots for the beach towels…
The water is not very clean here, say some critical voices, but people boast about having one of the best diving areas. For me this is just hearsay, I didn’t test it.
Definitely, the No. 1 attraction of the harbor is jumping into the water, from the rocks! Even tourists are happy to do it (the one in the photo was an Asian).
I stayed there for tens of minutes to watch this regional sport, fascinated by how easy it was for some children to climb on the cliffs (you will see in the movie at the end). There is just a string that helps when you get out of the water, then people climb to the top without any help!
“Giovani’s mom, will you let Gianni come with us to jump from the rocks?” – I expect to hear from one moment to the next…
And, after a few hours during which the children kept climbing the rock and jumping into the sea, I am expecting to see the mother of the green swimming shorts boy coming out on a balcony and to hear her voice in the entire harbor: “Gianni, come home immediately to do your homework, you damn child! Adesso mi tolgo la ciabatta!” (I mean, they also believe in “I’ll smack your face” and in using the slipper J).
But, for now, I only see the jumps and the joy of a summer afternoon. And new people coming to bathe in the sun, on any free inch of concrete they find on the boat ramp.
When you go back on the main street, to the tunnel that takes you to the train station, don’t go to the train. Go on farther, up. (This road really helps your gluteal muscles…)
Step by step, after about 400 meters, you reach the main square of the city, which is up there. Here you find the San Lorenzo Church, from 1338 and, in front of it, the bell tower, used in the 14th century as a watchtower. They watched the sea like hawks, so that no enemy could get close.
From the bell tower, you have a view of the sea that really… cools you!
Since we are still at the top of the city, the paths for hiking enthusiasts also come to light.
There are paths on the hills, between the courtyards of the people, in the middle of the vineyards, on the edges of the rocks, paths that connect the villages.
The hikers sometimes spend a few hours travelling between two villages, but I see how excited they are!
I also took a path, without intending to go to the neighboring village, just to feel it a little underfoot and see the city from above.
Getting near the terraces with vines, I remembered what I had found out, that the locals make a very good dry white wine here! I didn’t drink, because I had come by… train J
And I kept going on the dusty path, until I got to a point above the city.
I also came across the cemetery in Manarola. Lots of flowers, lots of peace. And many thoughts…
As I was not going to get to the neighboring village, I was walking, taking pictures, walking again, filming a bit… I was the only one on the path (it was getting dark, that’s why I think I didn’t cross paths with any hikers anymore).
I was trying to be careful not to break my legs, as the way was as it was… By the way, the local guides repeatedly ask tourists not to walk on these paths in slippers! As there are such people. I did not see them. I even saw a lot of people in professional hiking boots. And with sticks.
I found out a very cool thing: Manarola is in the Book of Records!!!
During the winter holidays, on a hill here, the scene of the Lord’s birth is reproduced. All over the hill! For this, Manarola entered the Guinness Book in 2007 (“world’s largest nativity scene”). Cool!
It’s just that it’s not Christmas now and the sun is disappearing from the sky, so I take it back to the town.
Just when the sun goes down I get to the harbor! Two minutes after it went down, I see some Chinese women running desperately to take pictures. I felt like telling them 刺穿. At that time I didn’t know how to Google translate the words “the joke’s on you”…
To be honest, I noticed that the sunset is so beautiful in Manarola, that I waited for it during the summer vacation and a year later, during my autumn vacation…
Then I discovered the surprise after sunset: the unique show of photographers.
Up on the hill, many photographers with cameras mounted on tripods, wait to catch the switching on of the lights in the tower houses. They try to get the most beautiful pictures! The truth is that this angle is the most photographed in the entire Cinque Terre area! Both during the day and at night.
People with professional devices move either to the left, or a bit to the right, they adjust their cameras, change their lenses. They all wait patiently for the locals to gather home and for the windows of the houses to light up.
I also stayed here for a while, catching four phases, from day to night:
WHERE TO EAT IN MANAROLA
I didn’t test many places here, because I was more of a walker…
I once had lunch on the main street, at Il Porticciolo. I had heard it was good.
I ordered lobster, to play cool J. I always considered it “fancy”, maybe because I ate it fresh, in places where it took me a long time to get – Cuba and the Maldives.
But, what do you know, it’s really ok in terms of the price: 18 euros for this portion.
I also ate in a beautiful place, up the hill, from where you can see the town in all its splendor. The terrace restaurant is called Nessun Dorma.
In order to better digest the food, after lunch it is worth taking a walk on the path right next to the restaurant, up to the point where the road ends. Landscapes are just for you…
Trattoria Dal Billy – is a restaurant with a spectacular view, located in the upper part of the city, close to the car parking lot. I understand they have good seafood. I didn’t test it, because I ended up here on the day it was closed – on Thursday.
I did not get the time to have a lot of lunches and dinners, but I could not miss the ice-cream. Right on the main street, you will find Gelateria Sorbetteria 5 Terre. They have good ice cream. Appropriate both for summer and for autumn…
Manarola is linked to Riomaggiore by the romantic Via dell’Amore.
As I was telling you in the Riomaggiore story, Via dell ’Amore is the path carved into the rocky wall, above the sea, which runs for about 20 minutes (850 meters) between the two villages. A very easy route in terms of difficulty, but this is in vain now, because it is closed for the next years, due to rehabilitation works.
HOWEVER, I discovered a solution so that I could walk on Via dell’Amore: as soon as you leave Manarola station, instead of taking it to the city, through the tunnel, you go to the opposite direction, guided by a sign. This way you reach a part of about 200 meters of Via dell’Amore. That’s all you can do. But, never mind, it’s cute!
LOCKED IN THE TRAIN STATION…
Manarola – check! I wait patiently in the station for the train to return to Riomaggiore. It will take me 3 minutes to do that.
At the end of the tunnel, you can really see Riomaggiore! The distance is shorter than the one between two subway stations in Bucharest. If I walk through the tunnel, it will only take me a few minutes. But I’m not allowed to do this. So I’m waiting for the train, which is… 30 minutes late!
We are informed that this is due to the great number of tourists from each station. Could it be that in one of the stations the tourists were so many that the train could not close the doors, like it used to happened in Ceausescu’s times with our trams?
I’m waiting, I have no other solution. They don’t let me go through the tunnel, Via dell’Amore is closed, so I’m waiting here. While waiting, I start looking at the hundreds of pictures I have taken here. It’s a place worth at least a visit. Every season J.
What I didn’t catch in the pictures, I caught in the movies. (Or rather, even if I took photos, I wanted to see in motion too…) Manarola in 3 minutes of raw filming, “no filter”, as they say:
Next is Corniglia, the village hidden up there, where you can run away from the world, if you really feel like it…