Florence is located within easy access of so many wonderful places to explore. It’s the very reason why the city makes for such an ideal base for a holiday, because not only can you get out and explore all the art, culture and history on the doorstep, you can also venture off on day trips to enjoy a host of other destinations and attractions as well.
A Cinque Terre Day Trip from Florence
One of the most enjoyable and fulfilling things you can do is book on to a Cinque Terre day trip from Florence. At Walkabout Florence we make sure you can make the very best of this magical experience in just one lovely fun-filled day. Yes, it’s a long day, but all our guests agree it is so well worth it!
We’d never dream of playing favourites when it comes to the five gorgeous villages you’ll be able to visit on a Cinque Terre day trip from Florence, but nobody who visits the second smallest of them, Manarola, can possibly leave without a smile on their face. Here are some of its highlights and just a few of the many reasons you’ll fall in love with Manarola.
Highlights of Manarola
With the discovery of ancient medieval artefacts, it’s been widely accepted that this is the oldest of the five coastal villages linked by the stunning coastal walk. Geographically, from the La Spezia end it’s the second village along the path, sitting between Riomaggiore and Corniglia.
All five of the towns are completely unique, with their own personality and even their own local traditions, but Manarola actually even has its own language dialect. The town can get quite busy during the peak season (although it’s actually quieter than most of the others), but when you book on to a Cinque Terre day trip from Florence with us we’ll make sure you get just the right amount of time to really get to know it – and undoubtedly fall into its web of charm.
A Magical Location
Again, there’s no point claiming this to be the most beautiful of the five villages when each of them is completely picture perfect. But, whatever you decide, it’s certainly entirely charming, surrounded by vineyards and lemon groves, with pastel-coloured houses spilling down the cliff side right to the edge of the harbour. The views from the top of the town and the harbour are very different, but neither is anything short of breath-taking. You can wind your way through the steep streets discovering hole-in-the-wall cafes, shops and restaurants, or trudge up to the top of the town to visit the Gothic church with its freestanding defensive tower.
The above mentioned Church of San Lorenzo, which dates back to 1338, is situated in the main square, Piazza Papa Innocenzo IV. Surrounded by lush vineyards, the piazza is also home to the Oratorio dei Disciplinati and the campanile, which was used in ancient times to keep watch for pirates.
The harbour makes an idyllic place to take a wander to admire the view of the town from a different aspect and grab something to eat from one of the numerous seafood restaurants and cafes. There’s a boat ramp, from which boat tours depart up and down the coast. The depth of the harbour makes for a fabulous opportunity to go deep-water swimming and snorkelling, with lots of rocks for sunbathing.
The Famous Nativity Scene
If you happen to book on to a Cinque Terre day trip from Florence in the months of December and January, the hillside around Manarola becomes the site of something very special: the largest illuminated nativity scene in the world. Up and down the hillside and in amongst the many vineyards, more than 15,000 lights and 300 religious figures turn the night into a magical nativity display for about six weeks.
Sanctuary of Nostra Signora della Salute
If you’re up for a little bit more upward hiking you can visit the serene Sanctuary of Nostra Signora della Salute, which is situated above the town in Volastra on a hillock surrounded by olive groves. One of several so-called ‘sanctuaries’ in the region, this thirteenth-century Romanesque church is reached by an ancient staircase and the views when you get there certainly make up for the effort.
The Wonderful Wine
Manarola is renowned for its prolific wine production and is an important member and host of the Cinque Terre Wine Cooperative. It’s most famous for its signature sciacchetrà, a delicious sweet dessert wine that has its origins in Roman times, but also produces a range of quality D.O.C. whites. There are more than 300 active growers in the region and most of these are involved in the production of these local wines.
While one of the most famous sections of the hike is currently closed for repairs after several landslides (it is set to re-open in the not too distant future), the romantically named Via dell’Amore (Lover’s Walk), which links the town with Riomaggiore, has a truly delightful history. This approximately one kilometre stretch gained a reputation as a place for the young lovers of the town to meet for their romantic trysts and take in the stunning views over the ocean. In modern times it’s become a place for couples to declare their undying love by carving their initials and other love graffiti into the cliff sides, or attaching a ‘love lock’ to railings and anything else that lines the path.
Other Things Not to Miss
The ambience of simply being in this lovely town and wandering its cobbled streets are its main appeal, but even for a place so small it has quite a few specific attractions, as you can see. As well as those mentioned above, if you have the time you should seek out:
- The ruins of the old mill, in the harbour
- The remains of the thirteenth-century bastion or castle
- The nearby town of Groppo, above Manarola – a hidden gem with few tourists
Everyone Has a Favourite
Everyone who embarks on a Cinque Terre day trip from Florence will have their own experience. For many, the time spent in Manarola becomes the highlight of the trip, while for others it may be Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Corniglia or Monterosso. In the end, it really doesn’t matter because, as a whole, this spectacular region of Italy absolutely deserves its reputation as one of the most stunning places on the planet. You’ll have to come and find out for yourself!
We Are Walkabout Florence
Here at Walkabout Florence we have a well-earned reputation as one of the best independent tour operators in the business. We specialise in providing fun-filled day tours in and around Florence, to help you truly immerse in Italy’s art, history and culture. Our passionate guides are friendly, knowledgeable and dedicated to ensuring the utmost satisfaction of all our guests – it’s what sets us apart. From Vespa and Fiat 500 tours, to cultural day tours and food and wine safaris, our highly recommended tours are designed to give you the very best experience possible.