Known in the past as magna roea due to the presence of a windmill, Manarola is a marvelous village set along the eastern layer of the Apennines and the Ligurian sea, and it’s one of the so-called Cinque Terre.
The typical multicolored, genoan-style houses, the presence of the little river Groppo, and the unique location of a complex built on the ridge of the mountain, creates a stunning and unbelievable picture. The parallel alleys of the village, climbing up the rocky wall, are connected by slate stairways, making Manarola the perfect place for lovers of quiet holidays and photographers.
It’s also recommendable during Christmas celebrations, when the hill of Manarola becomes a giant crib with human-sized figures, built among the olive groves and the vineyards, realized by the local artisan Mario Andreoli. This is the biggest crib in the world.
Every year, the same artist transforms the hill above Manarola in a Way of the Cross during Easter celebrations.
The main attractions of Manarola and the surrounding areas are the crystal sea and the nature. One of the favorite ways to explore the National Park of the Cinque Terre is the via dell’Amore (Road of Love), a panoramic path built in 1920 on the side of the mountain connecting Riomaggiore and Manarola, which is a part of a bigger path that connects the other villages, Monterosso, Corniglia and Vernazza. UNESCO rewarded this path in 1997 as World Heritage.
Manarola has a long and important history; the first documents date its birth back to 830 AD.
The most valuable monuments in the village are the Romanesque churches, like San Lorenzo, with the impressive rose window representing a crown with human and lion heads and the paintings over the main altar representing Madonna, the Saints, and San Lorenzo. The church was built in 1338, more or less like the church of San Giovanni Battista in Riomaggiore.
It’s possible to admire the old castle, now transformed into a private house, the romantic cemetery placed on the edge of Punta Bonfiglio, and the characteristic winch used to lower the boats in the middle of the sea.
Lovers of cuisine will have to taste the fantastic flavor of the local wine, famous since the XII century, perfect with the fish specialties like the mussels and the anchovies of Monterosso. The olive oil was rewarded by the EU with the D.O.P. Mark and the grappa (a strong liqueur with digestive properties), is absolutely priceless.
It is definitely a place to visit.