Cinque Terre, a human landscape

Cinque Terre, a human landscape

Cinque Terre are a human landscape, in the sense that if it were for nature here they would be only steep cliffs lashed by the sea and woods upstream.

Man in the Cinque Terre has not only built settlements and then villages but has shaped the landscape by creating the terraces that make this strip of coast so special and identifying.

The permanent exhibition “Cinque Terre, a human landscape”

Throughout August, the Castello di Riomaggiore will be open daily, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 3 to 6 p.m., as a tourist information point, but also and above all as the location of the permanent exhibition Cinque Terre, a human landscape.

Cinque Terre, a human landscape

The exhibition, sponsored by the Municipality of Riomaggiore, was created thanks to the Cinque Terre National Park – Marine Protected Area and the precious work of volunteers.

The project and the exhibition’s texts were curated by Attilio Casavecchia, while the images are by Anselmo Crovara from the Museum of Memory and by Walter Bilotta, who also oversaw the graphic project and Doriano Franceschetti.

Texts and images have been elaborated to disseminate local history and culture, make the Cinque Terre landscape better known, and facilitate its understanding, treating in detail the territory of Riomaggiore.

For those over 12 years old, there is an entrance ticket costing 1 €, while the exhibition is free for children, disabled people, and residents of the Municipality of Riomaggiore.

Hiking from Manarola to Corniglia via Volastra

Corniglia

The walk that leads from Manarola to Corniglia is one of the most panoramic in our region and passes through olive groves, vineyards, woods, and cliffs, passing through Volastra.

Hiking from Manarola to Corniglia via Volastra

  • about 5 km
  • 335 m of altitude on the sea
  • about 2h30 hiking
  • for trained hikers
  • trail 506, then 586 and 587
Manarola

The path

After spending some time discovering and visiting the village of Manarola, you can walk up the valley on the right of the Groppo stream. This first part of the walk is a rather steep climb, up to the locality of Piè di Fiesse, from where you will continue for a few meters along the SP 51 towards Groppo until you find an old mule track on the left.

This last stretch of the climb is already less steep and is surrounded by fields planted with olive trees that characterize the path up to Volastra, formerly known as Vicolus Olivastre, or the village of the olive groves.

After a stop at the suggestive Shrine of Our Lady of Health, built in sandstone in the twelfth century, you can continue the walk, which is now all with a view of the sea, through vineyards and terraces.

A real wonder and one of the few almost flat sections of our territory. However, some passages are quite narrow, and there are no protections, so we advise you to pay close attention to the walkway, even though the landscape changes step by step and leaves you breathless.

“Liguria will not remain in history because it discovered America and played Paganini’s violin, but because of the first man who brought out a bunch of grapes from a rock overlooking the sea”

Vittorio G. Rossi, “The dog barks at the moon”

From the typical vineyards, you pass to the Mediterranean scrub, with a section of path immersed in the pine and holm oak wood between the inhabited center of Porciana and up to Case Pianca, from where you begin the descent towards Corniglia, along an ancient mule track, at times bumpy, which crosses a beautiful pine forest overlooking the sea and then reaches olive groves and vineyards near the town.

For more details on this and other hikes in the region, you can also consult trails on the Cinque Terre National Park’s official map.

Cinque Terre Hiking Trails

For less trained walkers

If you are not too fit, you can also avoid the climb from Manarola to Volastra by opting for a more comfortable and faster bus.

Just go to the Park Info Point located at the train station to buy the ticket, which costs € 1.50 if purchased at the Info Point or € 2 if directly on the van. For those who already have the Cinque Terre Card, the service is instead included.

The minibus leaves from the post office, and, given the few seats, we advise you to be at the stop a little early.

Manaèarte, a collective exhibition

Manaèarte, the collective exhibition of the artists of Manarola

Manaèarte is back!

At the Disciplined Oratory in  Manarola, also known as the oratory of the Holy Annunciation, the tradition of Manaèarte is renewed with a collective exhibition presenting and celebrating the artists of Manarola.

The exhibition opens on Saturday 18 at 6 p.m. and will be open daily until July 26, from 4 to 7 p.m. When visiting the exposition you’ll also get to visit the ancient mill!

The oratory, built in the fifteenth century, is located in Piazza Innocenzo IV, the main square in the upper part of Manarola, near the bell tower and the church of San Lorenzo, which we invite you to visit.

The cultural association Radici

Manaèarte is an event organized by the Associazione culturale Radici, which aims to enhance the cultural heritage of the villages of the Cinque Terre, in order to pass on our tradition and soul to future generations; preserve and catalog the existing photographic and historical heritage creating an observatory on the landscape that highlights its transformation over time and allows its conservation.

Visit a vineyard and taste wine in Riomaggiore

The oenological Possa experience in Riomaggiore

The Cinque Terre are also their vines and their wine and in every village there are heroic farmers who with passion and determination carry on the tradition of our ancestors.

A visit to our region should therefore never end without visiting our vineyards, tasting our wines, and meeting the winemakers to whom we owe tradition and preservation of the renowned terraces of the Cinque Terre and our dry stone walls.

The oenological Possa experience in Riomaggiore

Among the many great wine experiences you should try when visiting Cinque Terre, the first one we present you is that offered by Possa in Riomaggiore and by its passionate owner, Heidi Bonanini.

The oenological Possa experience in Riomaggiore

The Possa farm, taking its name from the Possaitara valley in Riomaggiore, offers a daily wine experience: two hours with the winemaker, to discover the history, peculiarities, and beauty of his vineyard overlooking the sea, learn techniques and curiosities and taste a selection of wines and typical products in the cellar, in the heart of the village.

  • Where: in Riomaggiore – meeting at the Info Point of the Cinque Terre Park in Lavaccio
  • When: every day, booking via mail  or calling +39 348 316 2470
  • Duration: about two hours
  • Price: € 45 per person (visit to the vineyard and cellar, tasting and transportation to and from the vineyard to the village included)

Cinque Terre wine

In addition to the Sciacchetrà, and to a selection of wines from the cellar, you will also taste the Cinque Terre DOC wine. The local DOC obviously follows specific procedures and codes you will discover in detail during the experience, but let’s sum them up.

It must have a more or less intense straw yellow color, must be sapid, dry and pleasant on the palate, with an intense, persistent and fine olfactory profile and must be produced from the following vines: Bosco for a minimum of 40%, Albarola and/or Vermentino for a maximum of 40 % and other grape varieties of the same color authorized for the Liguria region, which, however, must never exceed 20%.

Groppo

Groppo

Groppo is a small hillside hamlet, halfway between Manarola and Volastra, and takes its name from the stream of the same name near which it was built. Composed of very few colorful houses, it’s definitely worth a visit for the tranquility and the panorama of vineyards and the Ligurian sea.

What to do in Groppo

The answer to the question “what to do in Groppo” is really easy: taste wines from the Cinque Terre! Here you can in fact visit the social winery of the Cantina sociale della Cooperativa Agricoltura Cinque Terre, which organizes visits and tastings all year round, even by appointment. The visit lasts about an hour and allows you to discover the various stages of processing and cultivation. If you want to add a visit to the vineyards, to be agreed in advance, count an extra half hour.

Not far from here, in Pié di Campu area, you can also visit one of the oldest mills of Manarola, recently restored and managed by the Associazione Culturale Radici.

Getting to Groppo

Like Volastra, Groppo can also be reached by car, along the coast road that connects the shrines of the Cinque Terre and starting from La Spezia leads to Levanto. An extremely scenic road, but quite winding and whose track is in some places quite narrow. You can also get there with an ATC bus or with an Explora 5 Terre shuttle.

However, we recommend a walk: starting from the parking in Manarola walk uphill on the right of the stream, until the intersection with the paths 506V and 502 in Piè di Fiesse, here cross the road and keep walking on the left through the olive grove following the indications for Groppo.

Sciacchetrà

Vino delle Cinque Terre

Sciacchetrà is our most precious nectar, the sweet wine of the Cinque Terre. Sung in the lyrics of Petrarca, Boccaccio, Pascoli, and D’Annunzio it is also a tradition and a tale of our environment and its inhabitants.

Origins and production of the Sciacchetrà

For the locals, the name is the result of the fusion of sciacca, crush, and trai, pull away, to describe the two consecutive operations of pressing and extracting the must, not lingering in the vat when it comes to the Sciacchetrà.

For some scholars and winemakers, it would derive instead from the Greek shekar, or fermented drink. The origins date back to the first inhabitants of Riomaggiore and to the drying technique they imported from Greece.

The production specification establishes that Sciacchetrà is mainly produced with the three grape varieties of Bosco (minimum 40%), Vermentino and/or Alabarola (maximum 40%), and a possible contribution of a maximum of 20% of other varieties. The minimum alcohol is 17% of which at least 13.5% played.

The best bunches are used for the production of Sciacchetrà, left to dry until late winter on special racks placed in the shade in ventilated places. The grapes are then de-stemmed, crushed, and separated from the skins, with a yield ranging from 30 to 35% maximum compared to that of “normal” wine. Once bottled, it is kept lying down, between 10 and 15 degrees.

The sweet wine of the Cinque Terre is golden yellow in the first two or three years, but then begins to tend to amber and if aged, starting from the twenties, tends to brown, with reflections on the reds.

How to drink it

Sciacchetrà is served at a temperature of 14 degrees, in small and flared glasses, with a high stem, and is perfect to accompany Ligurian desserts and dry pastries, but if aged it is an excellent meditation wine and is also ideal for accompanying full-bodied and strong cheeses.

By sniffing it you can feel the apricot and savoring notes of dried fruit and a hint of salt. Little tannic, it is not too sweet and the alcohol content is not too strong.

Our advice? Visit the Cinque Terre vineyards and cellars, take time to meet our producers and chat with them, taste their wines, and ask to taste their Sciacchetrà and maybe take a bottle home. An authentic and complete experience and concrete support for our land.

The Cinque Terre terracing

Volastra

The Cinque Terre terracing is a legacy of the Middle Age, they are what has shaped us, nourished us, made us special and which today guarantees us an identity and, in a much more concrete way, allows us to live downstream.

Volastra, Cinque Terre terracing

The construction of Cinque Terre terracing

Until the first half of the last century our economy was based almost exclusively on agriculture: vines, olive trees, fruit trees, and vegetables. To cultivate this vertical and rocky environment, the inhabitants began to erect kilometers of terraces supported by dry stone walls and arranged in overlapping bands, starting from the sea level, the ciàn.

A great work of environmental engineering well illustrated in the second part of the video linked in this article, estimated at over 4 million cubic meters of dry stone walls per hectare, for over 3 thousand linear meters of walls per hectare, for a total of 6729 km. Greater than the Earth’s radius!

Our dry stone walls, therefore, have a clear social and cultural value and if you want to know more about these aspects and their recovery, check the Stonewalls for life project.

It is estimated that until the first half of the last century in the Cinque Terre there were about 2000 hectares of olive groves, vineyards, and orchards. Today there are only about 400 of them left, while the Mediterranean maquis and the forest took over the rest.

We advise you to take a few minutes to watch this historical video of the Istituto Luce, showing the terracing construction and illustrating the past local lifestyle.

If you want to know more about the filming locations and the traditions shown in this short documentary, we are at your disposal.

The monorails of Cinque Terre

Since the 1980s, the application of a minimum of technology has begun to facilitate the work of the few who still choose that lifestyle: lighter materials and tools, but above all a network of monorails on which racks with small freight wagons move.

They do not go everywhere, but they are of great help, especially during the harvest period, which once involved carrying baskets of grapes for days, men on the back, and women on their head.

With the monorail and the abandonment of agriculture, even boats carrying baskets full of grapes to the pier disappeared, as now we no longer need to load the baskets of grapes on the gozzi moored under the lowest terraces. The same goes for the olive harvest in the fall.

Immense sacrifices and efforts, which led Veronelli to define the local winemakers as mad angels, whose work safeguards the splendid and fragile landscape of Cinque Terre.

The Cinque Terre Card

Manarola

The Cinque Terre Card is a visitor pass, allowing you to make the most of your stay, taking advantage of useful services, and at the same time supporting our environment.

The Card was in fact introduced by the Park in order to preserve trails and paths originally built by inhabitants to move around and farmers to reach their terraced fields. Paths of communication and essential work, but not foreseen for today’s high traffic noise due to tourism.

Monterosso

What’s included in the Cinque Terre Card

There are two types of passes you can choose from:

  • the simple Cinque Terre Trekking Card, including access to the SVA path, currently available between Corniglia and Monterosso, guided tours and excursions known as the Cinque Terre Walking Park, those organized at the Eugenio Montale Literary Park in Monterosso, ATC minibusses, public toilets in the five villages, WiFi near the Park’s hotspots, the laboratories of the Environmental Education Center (Centro di Educazione Ambientale) and a discount at the Musei Civici della Spezia (Civic Museums)
  • the Cinque Terre MS Card Train which, in addition to the services included in the basic one, offers unlimited access to the second class of regional and regional fast trains on the Levanto – La Spezia line and to all trains called Cinque Terre Express.
Cinque Terre Express Train

Purchase and rates

The Cinque Terre Card, registered and non-transferable, can be purchased at the Park’s reception centers, from Levanto to La Spezia, but in order to avoid queues and to check rates and any limitations due to weather, we recommend you buy it online, on the official website.

In case you buy a paper Card, always check with the employee who sold it to you if it must be validated or not before taking the train!

Whatever pass you have chosen and regardless of where and how you purchased it, if checked you may be asked for an identity document, even for children (till four years they travel for free).

Cinque Terre Card “Strutture Ricettive” (i.e. Accommodation Facilities)

Staying at a Cinque Terre accommodation belonging to the Park Quality Label, you are entitled to a discount on the Cinque Terre Card!

Check with the accommodation manager when you book or at check-in.

Volastra

Volastra

Volastra is home to the original settlement of Manarola and its name derives from Vicus Oleaster meaning the oil village.

An ancient village with a circular plan, probably of Etruscan foundation and subsequent Roman occupation, today a small hilltop hamlet, known because of one of the Marian shrines of the Cinque Terre, but also because one of the most scenic paths in our area starts from here, between vineyards, sky, and sea.

What to do in Volastra

Volastra

The church was actually first named after San Lorenzo, patron of Manarola, with a certificate from 1240, and only in the fifteenth century devoted to the Marian cult. The building has a quadrilateral plan with a single nave and no apse and an image of the Madonna, crowned in 1861, is venerated inside.

Getting to Volastra

Volastra can also be reached by car, along the coast road that connects the shrines of Cinque Terre and starting from La Spezia leads to Levanto. An extremely scenic road, but quite winding and whose track is in some places quite narrow. You can also get there with an ATC bus or with an Explora 5 Terre shuttle.

If, on the other hand, you prefer a healthy and scenic hike, you can walk and take the path at the Manarola parking lot. After the first steps, parallel to the road, the path runs along the typical terraces mixed with Mediterranean maquis and, once crossed the road in Piè di Fiesse, turns into a long vertical staircase between vineyards and olive trees ending in the village, right in front of a providential fountain! The ascent takes about an hour.

Manarola, history and monuments

Manarola

Manarola, the second village of the Cinque Terre starting from the east, administratively depends on the municipality of Riomaggiore but has its own identity and peculiarities.

It is believed that its name derives from the Latin Manium arula or “small temple dedicated to the Mani”, but there is no confirmation on this. Some historians claim that it derives from an old Manaraea dialectal form dating back to an older Magna Roea, the large water mill wheel.

Manarola

History

What we know for sure instead is that its foundation is due to the downstream movement of the inhabitants of Volastra, an ancient Roman settlement and today a hilly hamlet, back then inhabited by the people of the Val di Vara. The first documents mentioning Manarola date from the second half of the thirteenth century and deal with the struggles between the Republic of Genoa and the Fieschi di Lavagna, beaten in 1273 by a fleet of 14 galleys.

Passed under Genoa, Manarola became one of the major producers of wine and oil on the coast and, in the lower part of the village, still exists an old mill restored by the National Park. During this historical period, men really began to model the landscape and the heroic agriculture that today preserves the Cinque Terre was born then, one terracing after another.

The modern history of the village coincides with that of the other villages of the Cinque Terre and a large part of Liguria. However, the evolution on the urban side is marked with the coverage of the stream that crosses the village, beginning in 1863 and ending in 1978. For instance, in the 1950s only Piazza Innocenzo IV was covered and the two sides of the village till the Marina were connected by eleven stone bridges.

Monuments in Manarola

In addition to admiring the typical Genoese tower houses, today colorful, starting from the top you can visit Piazza Innocenzo IV, with its panoramic terrace perfect to enjoy the illuminated nativity scene by Mario Andreoli, but also the seat of the fifteenth-century Oratorio dei Disciplinanti, also known as the oratory of the Santissima Annunziata or of the Azzurri.

Also on the square, there is also the parish church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, better known as the church of San Lorenzo for the portal that depicts its martyrdom, with its bell tower with a square plan, in ancient times a watchtower. Dating back to 1338, the three-nave church is in Genoese Gothic style, with a local sandstone facade decorated with a particularly elaborate Carrara marble rose window added in 1375, while the baroque interior is characterized by a barrel-vaulted roof.

Manarola also had its castle, a defensive fortress in the heart of today’s village, in via del Baluardo. Over the centuries, however, the building has become a private home and today it is recognizable only for its rounded shape.

On the sea

What to do at the Marina in Manarola? Admire the village and lose track of time looking at the sea … from Punta Bonfiglio you can enjoy a panoramic view of the houses perched on the cliff, a glimpse that you have probably already seen in past known advertising campaigns and certainly in the infinite shots published online by those who have visited before you.

Riviere, bastano pochi stocchi d’erbaspada penduli da un ciglione sul delirio del mare

Here there is also the village cemetery, which is also often immortalized because in an extremely panoramic position and because the end lines of the poem Liguria by Vincenzo Cardarelli are engraved on its facade. This is not the only poem on the walls of Manarola, however, at the end of via Belvedere you will find, in addition to the immensity of the sea, also a small square dedicated to Eugenio Montale and a plaque with verses from his Riviere.