If you are traveling through Italy…
Make sure to take a side trip to Manarola, a small village on the coast of the Riviera. To get there, you’ll have to board a train with different stops along the way. Leave your smart phone at the hotel because you’re headed to the rugged northwest coast of Italy and a town that has yet to be invaded by the modern age of smart phones and fast food.
You won’t find a strip mall in Manarola, instead you’ll think a time machine has transported you to the old world when you arrive in this town, that sits high upon the cliffs that look over the beautiful hues of the Mediterranean’s Ligurian Sea. Indeed, it not only feel like the old world but a corner stone of the San Lorenzo Church dates back to 1338. So leave your technology behind, for the spell Manarola to take full effect.
Meanwhile, as one village among the five that comprise Cinque Terre, Manarola is the only one with a sand beach, so bring your swimsuit. You’ll also want want to take along some hiking boots so that you can enjoy the many trails and mule paths that twist and turn up to 1,000 feet above the Mediterranean Sea. Further down the trails and paths, look back for a spectacular view of Manarola, its houses brightly painted in so many colors that you might think you’re looking at a giant painting of some perfectly picturesque little village. The town not only looks like a painting, but it also appears in paintings by artists like Antonio Discovolo.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you might want to think about taking plunge into the sea off of Manarola’s Cliffs. Those not quite so adventurous can indulge in the fruits of the town’s main industries, fishing and wine-making. Once you’ve worked up an appetite while hiking or swimming, you’ll enjoy marvelous dishes featuring magnificent squid and mussels, along with a glass of the locally fermented wine, Sciacchetrà.
While in the region, you’ll find a range of pleasures in Cinque Terre’s four other villages: Riomaggiore; Vernazza; Monterosso al Mare; and Corniglia. Still, once under Manarola’s spell, you very well may never want to leave.