Manarola (Manaea in the local dialect) is a small town, a frazione of the comune (municipality) of Riomaggiore, in the province of La Spezia, Liguria, northern Italy. It is the second smallest of the famous Cinque Terre towns frequented by tourists.
Manarola may be the oldest of the towns in the Cinque Terre, with the cornerstone of the church, San Lorenzo, dating from 1338. The local dialect is Manarolese, which is marginally different from the dialects in the nearby area. The name "Manarola" is probably dialectical evolution of the Latin, "magna rota". In the Manarolese dialect this was changed to "magna roea" which means "large wheel", in reference to the mill wheel in the town.
Manarola's primary industries have traditionally been fishing and wine-making. The local wine, called Sciacchetrà, is especially renowned; references from Roman writings mention the high quality of the wine produced in the region. In recent years, Manarola and its neighboring towns have become popular tourist destinations, particularly in the summer months. Tourist attractions in the region include a famous walking trail between Manarola and Riomaggiore (called Via dell'Amore, "Love's Trail") and hiking trails in the hills and vineyards above the town. Manarola is one of the five villages. Mostly all of the houses are bright and colourful. Manarola was celebrated in paintings by Antonio Discovolo (1874-1956).
The Surreal Tiny Town That Is Manarola
You've perhaps read and heard about the Italian Riviera or a famous section of it, Cinque Terre, which loosely translates to "five lands”. The five lands are, in fact, five villages – Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso – connected together by a walking path. While these villages are popular, Manarola is the "greater” tourist magnet, and far much loved by all as it's the quietest and the most peaceful of the five.
If you walk down the ravine to the wild and rugged coastline at the Liguarian Sea from atop it, you'll understand why tourists can't get enough of this tiny but dreamlike fishing town. Though the second smallest town in the Cinque Terre and the oldest, it has no shortage of activities. You can either go fishing or for a thrill-seeking swim in the deep waters of the Liguarian Sea. Put simply, it is a cornucopia of things to see and do.
Getting To Manarola
Getting to this fantastic town is no herculean task. Though it will depend from which side of the town, you'll be coming from. If you are coming from La Spezia, the best means to use would be a car. It's about 12 1/2 miles to Manarola from La Spezia, Liguria, Northern Italy. It is by far the shortest and the simplest way to reach to this old fishing town in the Cinque Terre. You can equally reach the town by driving from Genova, but it's a far longer distance.
Things to Do In Manarola
You could start by taking a hike to the fabled trails of Cinque Terre. They are the most talked about and perhaps the sole reason an enormous amount of travelers find their way to the northern part of Italy. Besides the trails, you could visit the harbor. Many of those who've been to the harbor at Manarola say you can't help but go "snap-happy”. You'll have breathtaking views of the sea, and along the way you'll catch a glimpse of the village cemetery.
Speaking of which, the village cemetery on Punta Bonfiglio is quite distinctive a place to visit. It is not your ordinary cemetery. Here the dead are in "temporary rest” as they lay in neatly-lined temporary vaults waiting to be removed and placed in a communal ossuary (bone yard of sorts) in the middle of a chapel floor, after a generation or so. Other things to do in Manarola, you can take a walk to the vineyard, visit the town center, or best yet, walk the small alleys.
Where to Eat In Manarola
Oh, this is Eat-aly, and better yet, Cinque Terre. Almost every eating spot you see is perhaps the finest and the most recommended. When visiting this small town, make sure Il Porticciolo is on your list of favorite restaurants. It's the best and quite conspicuous; you can't miss it. Then there's Trattoria La Scogliera. It's located just outside, across the street, the Il Porticciolo restaurant. The food is excellent and the service top-notch but compared to the former, it is no match. Il Porticciolo meals make you want to travel to Cinque Terre all year round. Another best eat in Manarola is Trattoria Dal Billy.
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