We started off our day in Pisa with breakfast served in the cute little eatery in the entrance of our B&B the Villa tower inn. They offered a selection of pastries, ham and cheese sandwiches and freshly made coffee by the lady who also manned the front desk. The breakfast was ok, but we’ve yet to really enjoy the food on our trip so far. Our choices have been a little more miss than hit, but we’re hoping for good things when we get to Cinque Terre.
After breakfast we packed to go to Manarola, but since our accommodation was less than a few minutes walk to the leaning tower of Pisa, we couldn’t resist the visit. We didn’t have time for a tour so we settled for doing the touristy thing and took a million different shots with the tower, feeling a little ridiculous, but yet not so embarrassed as there were also a lot of other tourists committed to getting that epic shot.
After an hour, we made our way back to the hotel, and as we were a 5 minute walk to the train station, we opted to haul our 70kg+ worth of luggage up the road. We initially went straight to the platform and had no idea where to buy tickets from. Fortunately some lovely Spanish ladies told us to go back to 1L platform which is where the ticket machines are located and told us to ensure we validate our tickets in the machine at the bottom of the platform otherwise we’d get fined. Thank god for body language and tone as we got all of that without speaking a word of Spanish. Once we got our tickets we were finally on our way.
We had to change trains at La Spezia. The train schedules are easy to read and we managed to figure out that we needed to get on the train to Levanto which would stop at all 5 towns. Once we were on the platform, there was no indicator as to where the waiting train was headed until it was about to leave, the board lit up with Levanto as the final destination and we hopped on.
We arrived at Manarola in 15 mins. We stayed at the Michela Rooms on Via Rollandi and we just about died when we saw the uphill ascent we had to go up to our accommodation and then to be met with stairs further up. We wondered if there were porters that could help us at this point as we took a pit stop at Castello Square which is at the bottom of Via Rollandi, right before the final stairs up to our room. We were lucky enough to run into a couple who had just come the way we needed to go and the guy must have seen the suffering in our faces because he so very kindly offered to help bring up one of our bags. Bless his heart, he saved the day and Lionel’s back and knees.
We met our host Guiliano, who was waiting at the door of our studio and he was very welcoming. The room was nice and clean with a portable cot provided as promised. We had a little kitchenette so we had a stove where we could boil and strelise Harley’s bottles which would save us on our scarce Milton streliser tablet supply.
We didn’t have a view, but we were a few steps away on either side to views of the beautiful seaside and the other of the entire town to the coastline. We also just happened to be on the same street as Trattoria Da Billy which is a restaurant I had read so many good things about.
We decided to freshen up, put Harley down for a quick nap and once she woke up, off we went to explore Manarola and we managed to get a table at Da Billy at 6pm. Our waitress was straight faced, almost stern but she seemed nice enough. For appetisers we ordered mussels in a beautiful broth; For main we ordered the squid ink pasta with seafood and dessert we had the frozen hazelnut cream and panna cotta. We also had a lovely red wine (Pictures to be posted).
The food absolutely lived up to the hype. The seafood and pasta were cooked to perfection and it was truly delicious. After a satisfying meal we decided to walk it off and explored the beautiful little town. Manarola is the second smallest town of the Cinque Terre. We noticed that as soon as nightfall came all the daytime visitors left and the town was lovely and quiet. It was definitely a more relaxing atmosphere by night compared to the day. We walked from the top of the town down to the Marina area and fell in love with the late sunset just after 9pm and the quiet of the night save the few restaurants/bars opened at the harbour area.
The marina of Manarola is quite dramatic and just stunning day or night. We made our way back up to our room and had a restful night sleep. Our next day we planned to walk the easy trail from Manarola to Riomaggiore, visit Vernazza and then a sunset tour of all towns.