Manarola of the Cinque Terre

"Manarola, by the sea..."

“Manarola, by the sea…”

Manarola is a small town of the comune of Riomaggiore, in the province of La Spezia, Liguria, northern Italy.  It is the second smallest of the famous Cinque Terre villages.

"How do they get all those wine grapes up and down?"

“How do they get all those wine grapes up and down?”

"Funiculi Funicular!"

“Funiculi Funicular!”

When I first visited the Cinque Terre back in Summer of 2011, Manarola was the first town in the Cinque Terre I visited.  Getting into this town was just half the fun!  Our tour bus pulled up to the edge of road, where there were these cute little monorail cars on the bottom of a hill.  Our tour guide explained to us that those were used by farmers to carry large quantities of grapes from vineyards high on hilltops; the one-rail carts are there so that farmers don’t have to struggle lugging those massive fruits down the hill.  To be honest, I was tempted to hop aboard and go for a ride!

"Que bella, Manarola!"

“Que bella, Manarola!”

Our tour group passed through a big stone gate, which led us into the entrance to Manarola.  A long walk up a few staircases and hills brought us to a marvelous view of some of the most colorful houses in Italy.  A few more feet up, and I saw the sea!  And what a view it was!  The ambiance was too much; cute little houses in bright colors, nestled together on a hilltop, and just a stones throw from a beautiful, yet rocky beach.  Then again, I would later learn that almost all the towns in the Cinque Terre would have the same layout.

"Watch out for Peter Cottontail!"

“Watch out for Peter Cottontail!”

The town is full of life; so many people were outside tending their gardens, with all the determination of Mary-Mary Quite Contrary or Rabbit in Winnie-the-Pooh.  While Italy is a country well known for its food, It is not uncommon to see people still doing things the old fashioned way.  I especially liked how they built their gardens on terraces overlooking the narrow streets, rather than going down to some patch of dirt on a nearby hill.  It seems almost everyone has their own personal produce aisle in their backyard.  Seeing all those people tend to their vegetables reminded me of my aunt in Long Island who grows her own tomatoes, zucchini, stringbeans, eggplants, and figs.  Oh, how I wish she was there…

"Next stop, Manarola!"

“Next stop, Manarola!”

"A station in the middle of the water?"

“A station in the middle of the water?”

One of the coolest things I saw in Manarola was, believe it or not, the town’s train station.  Tourists and locals can reach the towns in the Cinque Terre by train from the nearby port city of La Spezia.  What’s cool is the way you arrive into the towns.  The train comes out of a carved mountain tunnel on the edge of the sea, then pulls into a station that is literally on the crashing waves.  If you look at the photo, it almost looks like the station is an island in the middle of the ocean, if you crop out the side of the rock wall.  It makes for a train ride through the Italian Riviera beautiful, if not surreal.

"Church of San Lorenzo: Founded in 1338."

“Church of San Lorenzo: Founded in 1338.”

Tourist attractions in the region include a 670-year old church named San Lorenzo and a famous walking trail between Manarola and Riomaggiore (called Via dell’Amore, or “Love’s Trail”) and hiking trails in the hills and vineyards above the town.  Love’s Trail was quite special; walking along the edged path, you’ll see hundreds and hundreds of locks fastened to metal gates on the side of the mountain path, which symbolize eternal love between couples.  How romantic!

"A fastened lock = I Love You!"

“A fastened lock = I Love You!”

About admin

I am a graduate of Stony Brook University, and I have a degree in History. I am an avid traveler, with an extensive knowledge of geography, a passion for photography, and a knowledge of animals too. I enjoy pop music of the 1980's, fine dining, movies, baseball, basketball, and rugby.
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