Earlier this year, I was able to spend 3 days in Cinque Terre “The Five Lands” and explore this beautiful (& somewhat remote) part of Italy. Manarola is the second smallest of these coastal towns on the Ligurian Sea and is perched on a rocky shoreline, with a small harbor and picturesque buildings cascading down the hills. There are no cars allowed here, or in most of the Cinque Terre towns, so catching a train or boat from La Spezia or Pisa is how most tourist arrive. Hiking is popular here with trails connecting all of the towns and providing great views along the coast and through the hillside vineyards. Some of the other towns feature large beaches and attract the sunbathing crowd. Even though Manarola does not have a beach, many still come to swim in the harbor, while the more adventurous dive off of various cliffs entertaining themselves & the tourists in the nearby cafes.
Like most small towns in Italy, I particularly enjoy Manarola after the tourists have left for the day. Once the mid-day crowds have boarded their boats & trains back to the larger cities, you get to calmly experience the town in a more personal fashion...tasting the food and wine of the local artisans, wandering the narrow streets or enjoying gelato while gazing across the harbor and listening to the waves. Manarola is undoubtedly beautiful any time of day, but the serenity added in the evening make it truly a special place.