Once you find yourself in Manarola, make sure you take the time to do the Manarola Vineyard Walk – it’ll be an experience to remember. Just make your way to the top of the town where the church is located and find the wooden railing that is just 20 yards or so below the church. This is the starting point for a lovely vineyard walk around the top side of town.
You’ll experience the beauty of gorgeous lemon trees and wild red Valerian (a relative of the herb we use to make the drug Valium!). And don’t forget to take the time to smell the heavenly scent of rosemary as you make your way along the path.
Take notice of the marvelous and fine workmanship of the region’s famous dry stone walls that shore up the beautifully crafted vineyards found all over.
At this point, notice the road becomes an S-shape. This is where a river once ran through the town. Today, that old and ancient riverbed has been covered up and made into a road. But long ago, it provided a place to gather water, wash clothes and gossip with the neighbors.
The Manarola Vineyard trail ends at a T-intersection. Taking a right, it will lead you to the trail that ends up in another of the Cinque Terre’s villages, Corniglia. If you decide to turn left at the T, you will start your descent back into the main part of Manarola.
If you choose to go back to town, along the way you have an opportunity to make a small detour and visit the local cemetery. Why, you ask? Because of the view! It’s the best view of the sea and you’ll be glad you did. May we all rest in peace in such a beautiful area! The cemetery is located on Punto Bonfiglio where you’ll come across a park and a bar to rest your feet and take a little snack break.
A little bit more about 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. Legend has it that on stormy nights, the bell could be heard ringing. However, no one ever knew who was ringing the bell. But that isn’t even the biggest mystery. The massive silver bell disappeared and no one has ever been able to solve that and come up with an answer as to how it happened.
There is so much to do in Cinque Terre, whether you like to hike, or try new wines, or delve into the awesome fresh fish recipes that each town in Cinque Terre has to offer, it’ll be a pleasurable experience that you’ll never forget, but whatever you decide to do, make sure you always respect the locals. It’s their home and they have invited the world to see it and experience it.