Discover Manarola in Italy’s Cinque Terre with kids
There are moments in life that will stay with you forever and our visit in June to the postcard-perfect village of Manarola in Italy was certainly one of them.
One of the five villages that make up the famous Italian Cinque Terre, Manarola is enchanting, with some of the most stunning coastal scenery on earth.
The Cinque Terre had been on my bucket list for years, but the thought of tackling steep inclines and countless stairs with little boys was daunting, to say the least. Rather than miss seeing this beautiful place, we decided to keep it short and simple, choosing to visit only one village.
Prepared for a big day out, we decided on a day trip from our villa near San Miniato in Tuscany. After two hours of driving, we parked at the La Spezia train station and made the short train trip to Manarola. When we stepped off the train into the village, it was the start of one perfect day.
We wandered along the sea cliffs, taking in the most spectacular view. It was one place where I wished all the other tourists disappeared so I could sit quietly and enjoy. Remembering that I had two little boys, the chance of sitting quietly anywhere wasn’t going to happen!
We did manage to leave the crowds behind for at least a few hundred metres when we walked as far as we could on the hiking track. Unfortunately, the tracks on both sides of Manarola were closed due to landslides and had been for some time. Never mind!
Along the walking track was a set of stairs leading to a beautiful little playground (parco giochi) with a brilliant view. Our boys had so much fun here, as did we. This playground is cared for by a retired local who volunteers his time. The boys were happy someone was so kind to do this for kids and wanted to leave a donation in the box to help keep the playground going.
If you want to have a picnic, there are a row of picnic tables and chairs next to the park, looking over the village. There are also nice, clean toilets you can use by giving a donation.
With the swinging, spinning and sliding over, we found the most amazing place to eat right next to the park. Perched on top of the cliffs, overlooking Manarola is Nessun Dorma. The service was excellent, the food very fresh, fast and delicious, and the view was out of this world. I could have sat there all afternoon eating and drinking Prosecco!
We tucked into tasty pesto bruschetta and tapas, while the boys enjoyed Nutella bruschetta and a toasted ham focaccia. It was simple food using the best and freshest ingredients. If you have more time, try to book into their pesto course. We hear it is fantastic.
With lunch now over, we walked back into the village centre and headed up the steep hill to check out the village church, hillside gardens and beautiful views over the village. Our time in Manarola went quickly but luckily for the boys, there was time enough to grab a homemade gelato before we boarded the train and headed for home.
It may have been a long day of travel and exploring, but it was worth every second. We plan to go back there again one day and explore all the towns.
Interested in reading more about Cinque Terre? Take a look at this great guide from the Wanderlust Crew.