Descending to Manarola is a bit easier than some of the other downhill hikes on the trail. A series of switchback stairs brings the hiker from near the top of the cliffs back down to sea level. The trail here is a walkway that has been hammered into the rock face. The sounds of the wind and the surf buffet the traveler. Then you round an outcropping of rock and there, sitting on the water’s edge, is Manarola. It appears as if the village has grown out of the rock.
There is a stone ramp that leads from the town center down to the sea. The streets are lined with boats where one would expect to see small cars. The roadways are more like very steep walking paths in this fishing village. Even though none of the streets seem to be level, the locals take it in stride carrying their daily groceries up the steep inclines.
Manarola is a bustling little town that is almost at the end of the trail. The final section connects to Riomaggiore and is known as the Via dell’Amore or Walk of Love. It is an easy flat stroll that takes about 30 minutes and is therefore the most popular part of the hike. The trail is covered in sections and there are benches to rest on when the feeling of amore overtakes the hiker.
While each story in this series can be read individually, the reader will gain more enjoyment and knowledge of the area if the series is read in order.