Manarola is a sensational village which clings to a rocky cliff over the Mediterranean in the La Spezia region of Liguria, north-western Italy. The village is a real marvel to behold, with colourful, tightly knit houses covering the rock face like moss, all the way down to the small, sheltered gorge where the sea meets the village.
Clambering around the steep streets of Manarola is reward enough for discovering this secret gem of the Ligurian coast. Each street is bursting with colour and history, dating back as far as the 12th century. Manarola is part of the UNESCO accredited Cinque Terre, which is five coastal villages along this little stretch. The area is known not only for their outstanding scenery, but also for the coastal walks, which are known as some of the best coastal walking routes in Europe. Walking is particularly popular from Manarola accommodation, and you shall see why the moment you step out onto one of the ancient paths.
The tunnel which will lead you from the train station to the main village was used for shelter during the WWII, and is now the village’s art gallery as well as thoroughfare. The art gallery is an absolute treat, with fantastic paintings of the area, especially of the Cinque Terre villages. The Manarola Vineyard Walk also starts here, and if you are visiting Manarola, an exploration of the town’s phenomenal wine heritage is an essential activity.
At the bottom of the village is the tiny harbour. Aside from a boat ramp, the harbour mainly consists of the village’s swimming hole, and although there is no beach, the swimming is absolutely fantastic. There are ladders to aid those adventurous enough to swim, as well as showers for your use.
The village of Corniglia is just a few miles along the coastline, accessible by the ancient bridle paths that linked the coastline in medieval times. The walk along the coastal path, which only takes around 15 minutes, is a joy in itself, and when you arrive into Corniglia, which is set slightly back from the coastline, the pleasures of rural Ligurian lifestyles will be abundantly clear. The path, otherwise known as ‘La Via dell’Amore’, or Lover’s Path, actually extends as far as Riommaggiore, taking around 30 minutes.
Manarola is blessed with a wonderful climate, with long, hot and dry summers and short, mild winters. During the period from June until late September, daily temperatures can often reach into the low to mid 30’s (?C), with evening temperatures remaining warm enough to eat outside, watching the sun dipping over the truly dramatic scenery, and be easily warm enough in just your shirt sleeves.
There are only two ways of reaching a holiday rental apartment or villa in Manarola; walking or catching the National Park train from La Spezia or Genoa. British Airways and Ryanair both fly direct to Genoa Airport (GOA) from London, meaning that despite the amazingly secluded and inaccessible location of Manarola, you can easily reach Manarola accommodation from the UK.