Placed on a rocky promontory, Manarola is a lovely town painted in merry colors along the famed Cinque Terre coast of Liguria. It is the second town in the circuit of five villages (coming from the south) and spreads out among and between the rocks and hills. The surrounding hills are an intricately carved network of terraces, a terrain that has been shored up and tended for centuries, with olive trees and vineyards crowded onto the narrow terraces.
The local wine, called Sciacchetra', is a rare regional variety, and the town has a museum dedicated to it. There is also an old olive mill and the area's prized pesto sauce is made and sold here, a product of the national park that is made within one hour of harvesting the delicate basil leaves.
The town itself is lively, with a small but bustling piazza and an active fishing trade. It's not uncommon to see boats pulled up into the narrow streets or even in the piazza for safety during inclement weather. The pyramid peak of the church's bell tower, at the high point of Manarola, serves as a navigational reference point for seafarers.
There is no beach in Manarola, but there are natural pool formed among the rocks of its coastline, ideal for swimming, and you'll find sunbathers reposed on the rocks soaking in the strong rays of the Riviera's sun.
Manarola is famous for its Christmas celebrations, when it puts on the biggest illuminated nativity scene in the world, with 200 figures participating. It is a magical event that is especially impressive when seen from the water!
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Explore nearby towns
The southern-most town on the Cinque Terre, Riomaggiore is wedged in a cleft between two hills.
Corniglia is the middle village in the chain of five Cinque Terre towns.
Fornacchi is a hamlet that is part of Vernazza in the Cinque Terre.