Ho hum. Manarola. Yet another incredibly charming old town in Cinque Terre. Really. All five main towns are quaintly beautiful. Yet, they are each unique, so if you find yourself in the Cinque Terre region, you should visit them all.
In fact, it’s so worth a visit that, if you can afford it, rather than reading about it in this blog, go and experience it for yourself. Now. What are you waiting for?
Come to think of it, maybe that’s why almost know one ever reads this blog. They’re all touring in Cinque Terra. Or it could be the excruciatingly boring, perfunctory writing in this blog. Nah, it couldn’t be that. It must be the everybody’s busy touring Cinque Terre thing.
But, never mind. Back to Manarola.
If you arrive in Manarola by train, your best bet is to head into town through the pedestrian tunnel that starts (or ends, depending on your perspective) at the train station. At the end (or beginning) of the tunnel you’ll find a path that takes you to the town’s main street.
The railway station and pedestrian tunnel are a little piece above sea level. Just down from the path is a raised public square that gives you a nice view up and down the narrow, attractive, old street.
This being a Cinque Terre town that isn’t Corniglia, there is a scenic harbour in Manarola. It’s small, but it has lots of rocks that meet the water dramatically.
People dive into the sea off the rocks. That is to say, other people dive off the rocks into the sea. Those would be people who aren’t worried about, for example:
- Sharp, pointy rocks that might, just barely offshore, be dramatically meeting the water unseen because they don’t rise above the surface.
- Sea creatures that might not take kindly to people diving into waters that they consider to be their home.
- Exposing rolls of fat to an unsuspecting public by wearing a bathing suit.
Those are the sort of people who dive off the rocks into the sea in Manarola. Those people do not include me.
(Yes. Yes. I know. It is not easy being me.)
Leaving the sea behind you, if you walk far enough up the main road, beyond the point where the road has any legal, moral or aesthetic right to call itself a main road, you arrive at Manarola’s church. (There may be other churches in the town, but, if so, I didn’t see them.)
Why do they put these things so far up hills? It seems to me that, if you believed in such things, you’d want to have a place near the bottom of the hill where you can pray that you will be able make it up the hill without experiencing cardiac arrest as a result of the climb.
The church sort of has a clock tower. I say “sort of” because the clock tower is across a square from the church, not mounted on top of it. That side of the square, the side where the clock tower sits, not where the church sits, provides a fabulous view of the town below and the sea beyond.
And if you’re sitting on the stone bench affixed to the side of the clock tower when the clock strikes, you’ll likely hear a very loud ringing in your ears even if you don’t have tinnitus. Luckily, I’ve had tinnitus for decades. Otherwise, I likely would have been upset by the damage to my ears from the loud ringing of the bell.