Manarola trip planner

The Cinque Terre town of Manarola

Manarola, Cinque Terre
The Cinque Terre village of Manarola. (Photo courtesy of Valeriano Della Longa.)

Manarola guide
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Manarola is the smallest of the seaside villages (though the next town, hilltop Corniglia, is even smaller), far less busy and bustling than Riomaggiore.

Manarola is a near-vertical cluster of tall houses piggyback up the hillside. Because it has no harbor, just a landing, its main drag becomes a parking lot of boats that are hauled up each day after the morning fishing's done.

Alongside fishing—and some glorious sunbathing opportunities—Manarola's claim to fame is housing the Cinque Terre wine cooperative. This is where most of the area's 300 growers bring their grapes—laboriously collected from terraced vines up and down the coast, where they shuttle around on the world's tiniest elevated monorails—and have the turned into the light Cinque Terre DOC white wine...or, even better, dried, pressed, and turned into the powerful, sweet dessert wine sciacchetrà.

There's now a small museum in town devoted to sciacchetrà and to the winemaker's art in general (admission is included with the Cinque Terre Card). It's open Mar-Oct, daily 10:30am–5:30pm.

When the evening tide comes in, the long pebble beach to the north of town, below the trail as you approach Corniglia's train station, becomes a symphony of soft, wet clattering as the waves drag bowling ball-sized stones, worn spherical with age, over one another, then suck the water back out between the gaps.

«« The path to Riomaggiore

 

The path to Corniglia »»

Where to stay in Manarola

Manarola hotels

Few people stay in sleepy, quiet little Manarola, a fact reflected by its whopping two whole hotels, neither of which is terribly friendly.

Hotel Marina Piccola
This cozy hotel by the port has two buildings. The more desirable one sits right at the docks above the decent glass-encased restaurant (where, in high season, you are required to take half-board), with seas views from most of the simple rooms done in Santorini white-accented-with-blue. The other building lies a few steps up the main drag, with country-style rooms above a lobby with sofas around a fireplace (tip: if you do end up in this wing, ask for a room on an upper floor; no elevator, but you will get sea views over the rooftops).
Via Discovolo 38, Manarola, tel. +39-01-87-92-0770, www.hotelmarinapiccola.com. Double rooms €145 (half-board €125 per person).

Hotel Ca' d'Andrean
A bit farther up the hill, away from the sea views (well, two of the ten rooms peek at the water) but nestled between the vine-terraced hillsides, the Ca' d'Andrean has simple, modular but clean rooms (a few with balconies) and a fireplace-warmed lounge and bar. There's nice grassy patio garden out back with plastic tables and chairs shaded by scented lemon trees for picnicking.
Via Discovolo 101, Manarola, tel. +39-0187-920-040, www.cadandrean.it. Double rooms €90–€135 (skip the €6 continental breakfast).

Manarola rental rooms and apartments

Contact Arpaiu (Via Belvedere 196, tel. +39-340-687-9732, www.arpaiu.com) for rental rooms (and a few apartments) with modern appointments and stunning coastal views starting at €85–€90.

Otherwise, check out the listings for rental rooms, apartments, and a B&B at www.parconazionale5terre.it.

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Planning your time

Manarola is tiny—you could walk all the way up and back down the main street in less than 15 minutes—but pleasant. Most hikers just stop for a quick snack or refreshment and keep on going to Corniglia.

Admission to the trails

They now have the audacity to charge you to hike the old goat paths between the villages. This ticket is called the Cinque Terre Card, and you can get one valid for 1 day (€5), 2 days (€8), 3 days (€10), or 7 days (€20). It includes admission to the trails, use of the (frankly superfluous) tiny buses in some towns, the occasional elevator, and entry to a few tiny museums (local history in Riomaggiore, wine here in Manarola, and in Monterosso an aquarium and a museum of anchovy salting—no, seriously).

There are also versions of the Cinque Terre Card that include unlimited train rides or unlimited ferry rides. Unless you're planning to take more than two train rides during your visit, don't bother. A standard train ticket between any of the towns costs just €1.60 to €1.80, while the train version of the card costs roughly €3.50 to €16.50 more per day (meaning you'd have to ride the rails at least three times a day or more to make it worthwhile). And, while nifty, you're unlikely to ride the less-frequent ferry more than once as a sort of mini-cruise.

How to get to Manarola

Manarola is on the regional Cinque Terre rail line, passing Riomaggiore (2–3 min.), Corniglia (3 min.), Vernazza (7–14 min.), and Monterosso al Mare (11–21 min.).

Manarola is also 10–17 min. by train from La Spezia, where you can change for trains throughout Italy (sometimes you change at nearby Sarzana), including Pisa (1:25–1:50 hr. total), Lucca (1:40–2:20 hr., sometimes with another change at Viareggio), Florence (2:25–4 hr., sometimes with another change at Pisa), and Rome (4:25–6 hr.).

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