Saturday, June  15, 2019
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There were a fair number of other hikers with us on the trail today - no doubt many in the same situation as us, using this trail as an alternative to the currently-closed sentiero azzurro. It was also clear that many were unprepared for any sort of strenous hiking, as evidenced by one french lady who seemed to be overheated and exhausted from the short twenty minute climb up from Riomaggiore. She was completely out of water and wondered if we had any to spare, which fortunately we did.
courtesy RHanel
Crest Trail
Manarola Station
Next Section of Coast
Distant Corniglia
A few short sections of trees provided shade was we continued our ascent to the highpoint along the trail between Riomaggiore and Manarola, which is marked by some transmission towers and a trail junction sign. Our elevation here was 240 metres above sea level (roughly 800').

At the trail junction we turned left, staying on #531 (the trail straight ahead was #532, and headed further up into the hills). The trail immediately began descending, and soon we began getting glimpses down towards Manarola. We had a wonderful eagle-eye view of the upper part of the town. From these vantage points, we were almost seeing more rooftop than wall.
Costa Del Corniolo
Manarola Far Below
Upper Manarola
Down, down trail 531 went, quite steeply in spots, occasionally winding back and forth through farmyard terracing and down old stone steps. Again there was much evidence of inexperienced hikers, as we observed many people unable to confidently negotiate the steeper passages.

The scenic views down onto Manarola broadened as we descended, and soon we could see the entire town in one visual sweep. It was smaller than Riomaggiore, but bigger than Corniglia. It was nestled into the bottom of a narrow, steep-sided valley that descended to the coastline. At the valley's mouth, a ridge of rock projected out into the sea, and an arm of the town was densely constructed on it.
courtesy JInnes
Starting descent to Manarola
Descending to Manarola
Above Mediterranean Rooftops
The descent from the height of land down to Manarola itself was rapid, taking no more than perhaps twenty minutes. The trail didn't end on the outskirts of the town, but rather descended directly into it. This is something I've always found quaint about trails in Europe, this melding of trail and street. Often right alongside a street sign you will find a trail marker.
courtesy JInnes
courtesy RHanel
Terraces and Walls
Lower Manarola
Andrew and Manarola
Into the town
Rather than descend directly to the main street in Manarola, we elected to wander a bit in the higher alleyways and laneways, taking a more circuitous route down. The streets had a very attractive combination of colors, textures, three-dimensionality, asymmetry, and rustic-ness. The streets exuded antiquity, but at the same time they were well-maintained. And they were noticeably quieter, more deserted than Riomaggiore's. In one spot we came across a tiny square with a solitary guitarist sitting on a stone wall overlooking the sea, strumming quietly to himself - this seemed to capture the essence of a quiet, lazy sunny day on the Italian Riviera.
Urban 531
Classic Mediterranean Terrace
Roland's street
Solitary Strummer
Laneways and tunnels
Admiring a rustic alley
After wandering blissfully downwards through Manarola's streets, we arrived at the bottom, emerging onto the via discovolo, Manarola's main throughfare. Like Riomaggiore, this was the busiest, most people-filled spot in town, but not quite as crowded. After briefly inspecting Manarola's crag-filled harbour, we decided that it was time for some grub, and chose to stop at a pizzeria across from the train station access tunnel.
Metallic Messiah
Manarola Alleyway
Passageway View
Pizza Time
Manarola Harbor
Heading to explore Cemetary
After lunch, we decided to explore a bit more of scenic Manarola before continuing on our walking journey. Roland took a fancy to the delapidated-looking cemetary perched on a ridge north of town, so we took some time out to explore it. It was a typical southern european cemetary, with dense rows of above-ground burial vaults. The place was elaborate and dignified, but also seemed to suffer from a bit of maintainance neglect.
courtesy JInnes
Manarola Cemetery
Manarola Cemetery
Manarola Cemetary
courtesy JInnes
Growth Space
Gravesite Photo
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