A small bay and a hill that juts out into the sea is Manarola. Manarola is located between Corniglia and Riomaggiore and is the second smallest village in the Cinqueterre after Corniglia.
Even before people became at home on the steep coast, the Volastra above Manarola was already a settlement in Roman times. People came from the Vara valley inland and settled the rocks by the sea.
In past centuries, people in Manarola lived from fishing and viticulture. Mostly women took over the work in the village, while the men hired themselves in the arsenal of La Spezia or in the port of Genoa. Life was an eternal struggle against nature and against pirates who invaded the villages and robbed women and children.
The narrow valley offers little space, so the houses are densely stacked one above the other. A street, called Via Discovol, runs through the village from the top of the village with a barrier to the rock above the sea. A path carved into the rock connects the town center with the ship landing stage. Traditionally, people in Manarola also lived from fishing. But the steep coast has no place to store the fishing boats. The fishing boats are pulled out of the bay with the help of a cable winch from the sea to a height of over 15 m. The boats lie in the middle of the only street Via Birolli and the flow of visitors winds past them. The additional work for the fishermen offers a welcome exciting spectacle for tourists.
The main square of Manarola is located above the settlement with the church of San Lorenzo, the bell tower and the Oratorio dei Disciplinati. Manarola’s Castello, once a protective wall against the Saracens, has been restructured over time for private living purposes. The last part of Via Belvedere is a kind of balcony high above the sea.
Church San Lorenzo
The church of San Lorenzo from the 14th century is built in the Gothic style. The facade is decorated with a rosette designed by Matteo e Pietro da Campilio, the same ones who had already decorated the Church of San Pietro in Corniglia.
San Lorenzo is the patron saint of Manarola. The festivities take place every year on the evening of August 10th with a procession through the village. The highlight is the transportation of the sedan chair with the statue of Saint Lorenzo in a boat, before being brought back up to the church.
Nostra Signora della Salute in Volastra
The Manarola Sanctuary is in Volastra. The name Volastra comes from the Latin: oleaster and means something like village in the olives. The church was first mentioned in 1240 and is built in the Romanesque style. It was not until the end of the 16th century, following the Madonna cult, that it was dedicated to the Holy Madonna della Salute. The church is usually open and can be visited.