Discover the Colorful Town of Manarola in Cinque Terre
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Settled on a high rock 70 meters above sea level, Manarola is one of the most charming and romantic of the Cinque Terre towns. The first historical tokens regarding Manarola are related to the Fieschi family dominion. Fieschi were defeated in 1273 when the Republic of Genoa sent a fleet of fourteen galleys to fight the rebel Niccolò, Manarola’s master. Under Genoa’s dominion the village progressively grew, and became one of the most important suppliers of produce such as wine and oil.
Due to its agricultural attitude the name Manarola is said to descend from the dialectal word “Manaraea” (preceding the current “Manaaea”), deriving from the ancient “magna Roea”, the big stone of a watermill. In fact, an old oil mill, restored by the National Park, can be admired in the lower part of the village.
Several buildings, located in the square named Piazza Innocenzo IV, can be visited: the Ligurian-Gothic church of Saint Lawrence, with tree naves and a barrel vaulted Baroque interior, built in 1338; the squared White Bell Tower, an old watchtower built in XIV century; the fifteenth-century Oratory of the Disciplinati della Santissima Annunziata, and the ancient Hospital of Saint Roch.
The village is all ups and downs, with steep narrow alleys carrugi, leading to the sea. If you want to venture up to the top of Manarola, make sure you check out the church. Today it serves as a religious and community meeting place, but in more ancient times, the bell tower was used as a post to watch for potential pirate raids. Another peculiarity of Manarola is a pyramid in white cement whose peak can be seen rising between the taller houses and is used as a navigational reference point for all those at sea.
Definitely, no Italian Riviera vacation is complete without visiting the beautiful town of Manarola.
Photograph by © Leon petrosyan