The Cinque Terre is a jagged coastline of the riviera ligure di levante situated in the province of La Spezia between Punta Mesco and Punta Montenero, in which there are five villages or, as they said in ancient times, "terre": Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, Riomaggiore.
The first historical documents about Cinque Terre date from the 11th century. Monterosso and Vernazza arose while the other villages were born later, under the military and political hegemony of Genoa. In the 16th century, to counter the attacks of the Turks, the inhabitants strengthened the fortifications and built new defence towers. Starting from the 17th century the Cinque Terre had a decline that reversed only in XIX century, thanks to the construction of the military arsenal of La Spezia and the construction of the railway line between Genoa and the capital.
The Cinque Terre landscape today has changed a lot compared to the past.
The transformation due to the work of the man who has tried to make it usable, is especially evident in the hills: a dense network of terraces, known as “Cian”, shut down the steep slopes.
-Piane supported by dry stone walls, which are vegetable gardens, vineyards, stairways, cottages, trails. A great work of environmental engineering: 4,200 cubic meters of walls – about two meters high – per hectare, for a total of $ 8,400,000 cubic meters; 3,163 meters of walls per hectare, for a total of 6,729 km walls, above the Earth’s radius. Thanks to the convenient location of the territory, sunny and sheltered from the north winds, the “Cian” have always been especially cultivated with vineyards and olive trees, producing oils and wines of great quality.
Manarola, an urban jewel
Village of Riomaggiore, Manarola is an urban jewel, full as it is of the typical tower-houses, genovese style. Founded during the 12th century, the village probably derives its name from an ancient “magna roea”, a big wheel of the mill in the country. The first records of the village date back to the 13th century, related to the events of the Fieschi, while in the 16th century is known for its fierce resistance to the pirate raids.
The main monument of the village is the Church of San Lorenzo, which dates to 1338 at the hands of the inhabitants of Manarola and Volastra, the plaque on the façade. The plant has three naves, while the façade is decorated with a rosette of twelve columns. Also important the campanile detached from the main body of the Church probably because, originally, had defensive tasks.
The mountain range that runs parallel to the sea bordering the 800 metres ensures Cinque Terre shelter from cold winds. Southern currents, more hot and humid, date back to the ridge and, clashing with the cold ones, are the cause of frequent mists and high rainfall. The typically Mediterranean vegetation includes pine, Aleppo Pine, Holm oak, sea fennel, red Valerian, Euphorbia, broom, Arbutus and thyme.
Other places of interest::
Ruins of the fortress
The remains of the bastion that was built in the 12th century, are visible in the houses on the shore. Its walls were used for the construction of dwellings. As for the Castle, which was built along the bastion, unfortunately nothing remains.
A small town near Manarola is known for its wineries. Here you can taste and buy the real Cinque Terre wine.
To get there use the bus or walk along the paths oriented (see below)
The sanctuary of Nostra Signora della Salute (our Lady of health)
One of the five famous sanctuaries of the Cinque Terre. Located in Volastra.
The sanctuary has a Romanic origin and dates back to the 10th century. In the inside with a circular image of the Madonna of the 18th century.
To get there use the trail to Volastra “Via” (see below).
Colorful houses, constituted by typical Genoese towers, overlooking a sheltered each other on main street called Via Discovolo derived from coverage of the watercourse. The village then climbs on a rocky spur which juts out of the sea, resulting in a tangle of narrow alleys, which run parallel on several intermediate levels connected by staircases irregular slate. A privileged location to admire the magnificent structure of the village is Punta Bonfiglio on which runs a walkway built by manarolesi opened in 1968, making it possible to link the port with the nearest Palaedo.
Dal 1961, nel periodo natalizio, sulla collina che domina il borgo viene allestito un suggestivo presepe luminoso (il più grande al mondo), i cui personaggi, realizzati artigianalmente da Mario Andreoli, ferroviere in pensione, sono costituiti da migliaia e migliaia di luci montate su apposite sagome che conferiscono alla rappresentazione un fascino unico al mondo.
Since 1961, at Christmas, on a hill overlooking the village is a charming light crib (the largest in the world), whose characters, handcrafted by Mario Andreoli, consist of thousands of lights mounted on special templates that give a representation unique charm.
On August 10 is held every year on the feast of St. Lawrence, the patron saint of the town. The evening is held a procession through the streets of the town, culminating with the transfer of the carriage with the statue of the Saint on a boat, leaving from the port of Palaedo, back to the Marina. From here, the procession resumed climbing up to Serravalle, ends at the Church of San Lorenzo.
Manarola is known for the famous (and wanted) wine “Sciacchetrà”.
It is a sweet wine, dessert and fortified wine, produced from grapes originating from the famous terraces, also known as reinforced or sweet wine (respectively “refursà” and “vin duse” in Liguria). Boasts a millenary history and to be known and appreciated throughout the world, has been awarded the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée
Much of their success to the Cinque Terre tourist must to the paths that wind along the coast or reach the sanctuaries that overlook each village. From the trails you can enjoy an incomparable view.
The most famous and scenic trail is called the blue trail or trail # 2 and connect number C.A.I countries in a long walk of approximately 12 Km takes about 5 hours with a vertical drop of 500 metres.
For inexperienced hikers we recommend an easy walk, the famous Via dell’Amore, a footpath between Riomaggiore and Manarola takes about 25 minutes, where you can admire views and glimpses of the entire Ligurian coast.
A challenging path is the path of ridge or C.A.I trail. number 1, an ancient mule track going back probably to Roman times that connects the country inland of Levanto with Portovenere and extends over 40 Km.
You will find a list of the paths of the Cinque Terre here