As I headed out that first morning, walking the trail from Riomaggiore to Manarola, I remember being, simply, stunned at the beauty of the coastline. The path, in sections, is a bit of a challenge, but who cares when you have views like that!
The approach to Manarola from the south is not as spectacular as those who encounter views as they near the village from the north. Once inside the village however, I was again surprised and enchanted by the narrow lanes, the friendliness of the people and the sense that these places are straight from a 1950’s Cinecittà vision of bella Italia.
While I imagined that living along the coast, before it was ‘discovered’ was not just difficult, but downright tough, the positive impact on people’s lives from all we visitors is evident in shops, restaurants, hotels and B&B’s.
Poet and writer Eugenio Montale, who lived in Manarola for over thirty years, wrote of senses heightened, of that compelling dichotomy between poetic beauty and darker truths.
Every moment brings new leaves to you,
amazement overwhelming every other
fleeting joy: life comes on headlong waves
to this far garden corner.
Now you stare down at the soil;
an undertow of memories
reaches your heart and almost overwhelms it.
A shout in the distance: see, time plummets,
disappears in hurried eddies
among the stones, all memory gone; and I
from my dark lookout reach
for this sunlit occurrence.
As evening descended on this first full day on the coast, I took a seat in a small cafe and observed. Locals stopped to discuss the day’s developments, tourists peered at menus posted outside trattorias and cafes and a gentle breeze en wrapped the lanes as curtains billowed from windows high above. The lull of the ever present sea slowed us all to the pace of Italian life.
There is a question I ask myself all the time in Italy, and it has to do with love. There is not a region, hardly a place, in this incredible country that I don’t find myself asking “How can anyone not fall in love with the . . .?
Such a question is one asked as I sit on the rocks near the harbor and enjoy sunset by the sea.
Before I get to “If You Go” and the details of staying in, and enjoying meals in, Manarola, I leave you with a photograph from National Geographic.
In its capture of the restless sea and the fishermen’s boats and homes, I see an encapsulated summary of the Cinque Terre’s attractions: rocks, precipitous cliffs, quiet lanes and extraordinary beauty. Enjoy.
IF YOU GO:
As is true with all of the villages along the coast, you are strongly encouraged to book your hotel rooms(s) well in advance of your travel dates. If you visiting during late October – late March, then you will find accommodations available for ‘last minute’ arrivals. Regardless, reserve in advance and you will have one less worry for your trip.
These are all places I have stayed, over the years, in Manarola. You may well have a favorite, yet I can recommend these with confidence that you will enjoy a safe and fairly-priced stay.
Vico Volto, 20 | Piazza della Chiesa, 19017 Manarola, Italy
Via Ettore Cozzani, 42 19017 Riomaggiore Province of La Spezia, Italy
Tel: (Italian Cell Number) +39.349.346.9208
Via Discovolo 280 – 19017 Manarola (SP)
During high season, you should reserve for dinner in most places in Manarola. The restaurants are, in general, very small and fill quickly for the evening meal. I recommend these places. I have eaten in them and have enjoyed wonderful meals and refreshments at a fair price.
Via Renato Birolli, 88 Riomaggiore, Province of La Spezia, Italy
Aristide (no web site)
Via Discovolo 19017 Manarola, Province of La Spezia, Italy