Perched on a steep cape of dark rock, with its small port enclosed by two rocky boulders, we find Manarola, a village of ancient origins found by the inhabitants of the (probably Roman) Volastra settlement. Manarola, like the other Cinque Terre villages, is known for its tower-houses; the layout of the village develops around the subsurface course of the Groppo stream which marks out its main axis. From the sunken stream a series of narrow stone-paved streets lead off towards houses and vegetable gardens on both sides of the cape. Parallel to the main axis runs the Via di Mezzo (Middle Street) that used to be a particularly important byway before the stream was covered over. Above the houses there lies an interesting square in which all the religious buildings are located. Another peculiarity of Manarola is a pyramid in white cement whose peak can be seen rising between the taller houses and is used as a navigational reference point for all those at sea.
Manarola has to be considered the quietest of the five towns. Even in full season one can always appreciate the peacefulness of its streets and the relaxing walks on the short paths surrounding the village.
A ‘must see’ is the big illuminated Nativity on the hill in front of the houses: more than 200 figures and 12.000 lamps for the biggest lighted nativity in the world! It remains ligthed from December 8th till the end of January.