One of the five Cinque Terre villages, Manarola has some of the best hotels in the area. Few views are more breathtaking than the first glimpse of the town on the path from Corniglia. From here, the village is almost vertical with pastel houses piled on top of one another. Surrounded by black rock, the emerald bay beckons you to take a dip.
Winemaking, fishing, and producing olive oil are the order of the day here. And you’ll have plenty of opportunities to sample all three.
The harbor is the center of activity in Manarola, so it’s a fun place for people watching. And there are a couple of good swimming spots. One of the beaches — though there’s no sand — has a shower and a ladder from the rocks to the water. A second beach is accessible from the path to Corniglia. It’s more private, but there are no facilities.
In the town, the main square, Piazza Capellini, is a nice new addition. The local “museum” has a display about wine making in the region. The upper part of town has a church with a bell tower and two paintings from the 15th century. There’s also a youth hostel — the only one in the Cinque Terre.
The most rewarding activity in Manarola is a walk through the vineyards. If you follow the wood railing, you’ll go through lemon groves, rosemary, and valerian, and you’ll pass old stone walls and thatches. The cemetery at Punta Bonfiglio is an interesting side trip and the views from there are fantastic.
Nowadays, you can reach Manarola by train, boat, and car. If you drive, a shuttle will take you from the parking lot to the center of town.
The top-rated and most stylish hotel in Manarola, La Torretta has 13 attractive rooms in an old building with a 17th-century tower. The family-run property has been extensively restored and all the rooms have views or terraces. Guests can catch some rays in the solarium. Unlike most Cinque Terra hotels, La Torretta is decorated in a clean, contemporary style with tile floors, leather chairs, and plasma TVs. This is the most expensive hotel in town, but it you’re looking for something special, this is it.
Hotel Marina Piccola is a great choice for those who want to be right on the water. Rooms in the building with the restaurant have windows that open right onto the fishing boats and rocks, and the beach is practically right there. If this building is full, most of the rooms in the second building have views. With tile floors, and pastel colored walls, the accommodations here are better than most. And the seafood in the waterfront restaurant is as fresh as it gets.
Ca’ d’Andrean has 10 squeaky-clean rooms with tile floors and simple furnishings up the hill from the train station. There’s no air conditioning, but many of the rooms have balconies with nice views. Breakfast is served in the pretty lemon grove out front.
Carugiu Bed and Breakfast is located on a narrow street in the center of Manarola. It occupies two stories of an old, four-story buildings. Rooms have refrigerators, flat screen TVs, high-speed Internet access, and private baths.