Manarola - Volastra - Groppo Loop Trail (Italy)

May 15, 2019

If you spend an extra day in Manarola, this is a nice 5-kilometer loop that will take you to two small villages.

Downhill from the church of San Lorenzo and next to Cappun Magru restaurant you will see trail 6p going uphill.

photo
Trail 6p

Since the 1960s, many of the farmers who once worked the land have abandoned their steep plots and moved to cities for better-paying factory jobs.

photo

Italy is believed to have the most terraced land in Europe, with more than 100,000 miles of dry stone walls — 20 times the length of the Great Wall of China.

photo

Manarola is believed to have been founded by the inhabitants of Volastra, a village that existed already in Roman times.

photo

The residents of Volastra farmed the surrounding terraces, planted olive, lemon and chestnut trees, as well as vines, then in the 12th century part of the population moved down to the sea and founded the village of Manarola.

photo

The name Manarola has a Roman origin: it comes from a name of an altar dedicated to the Mani Gods, "manium arula". Other sources say that it derives from the words "magna roea", which means "a big mill wheel".

photo

After 5 or 10 minutes depending on how fast your pace is, you will reach a junction, go right.

photo


photo


photo


photo

Going uphill gives better views of Corniglia.

photo
Corniglia

The centuries-old, permeable dry stone walls that border the plots are vital to Cinque Terre’s survival.

photo

They absorb needed water from heavy rains while allowing the runoff to flow gently downhill, preventing the land from washing away. 

photo

 

photo

 

photo

The straight line will reach another junction. Open the door and go right. 

photo

The path continues behind a giant empty sign which I believe is part of a huge nativity scene that Manarola puts together every holiday season.

photo

The 300 characters are made of recycled materials and are placed in a different way every year.

photo

You can see it from the start of December until the end of January.

photo
Groppo (upper right)

Another junction, this time go left.

photo

Going downhill will follow the Manarola Valley trail.

photo

 

photo

 

photo
Volastra

 

photo

 

photo
Groppo

In Roman times travelers used to change horses in Volastra.

photo
Finishing the 1200 steps

When you reach the end of this trail, you have the option to go right towards Groppo. But it is worth a short visit to the Church of Our Lady of Health. To reach it go left.

photo

 

photo

 

photo

 

photo

The name Volastra comes from “Vicus Oleaster” that in Latin means village of olives.

photo
Church of Our Lady of Health

 

photo

The XII century church has a Romanesque and Gothic style, very typical for the churches of these part of Liguria.

photo

The church of Volastra is located on the way of the Via dei Santuri a trail connecting five different churches located above five villages of Cinque Terre.

photo

Calm and undiscovered by tourists Volastra is very close and similar to the other Cinque Terre towns.

photo

If you retrace your steps, you will find a small restaurant, Piatti da Asporto where you can get a small snack to enjoy in Groppo.

photo

Volastra has basically two streets.

photo

 

photo

 

photo

 

photo

 

photo

 

photo

To resume your hike go back to the church and head towards the road.

photo

Follow the road for 50 meters, keep on the right and after the curve continue on the trail.

photo

For the vineyards, the only mechanical part are the tracks for trolleys going to the highway to transport the harvest to a more accessible place.

photo

 

photo
Trolley used for harvesting

 

photo

The track will show the red-white flag for this trail. You need to turn left and go downhill.

photo
Go left, look at the white-red mark on the post

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs will tell you that you missed the turn.

photo

 

photo

 

photo

 

photo

 

photo

 

photo
Volastra

 

photo

 

photo

 

photo

 

photo

Groppo is a tiny hamlet between Manarola and Volastra.

photo

There are only a few colorful houses here, so you can quickly discover the village.

photo

It's really quiet, so come up here if you feel you have met too many tourists at the seaside railway stations.

photo

The Cinque Terre Wine Cooperative can be found in Groppo as well; that's where most of the Cinque Terre wine is made.

photo
Lunch: The Panini I bought in Volastra

 

photo

 

photo

 

photo

 

photo

 

photo

 

photo

 

photo

 

photo

 

photo

You also can get there if you arrive by car on the coastal road (parking is free compared to the coastal towns), or you can take the small bus from Manarola.

photo

 

photo

From the parking lot, you can see the sign showing the trail running almost parallel to the road.

photo

Today, 8 percent of the entire region of Liguria, where Cinque Terre is, is terraced. Roughly half of that area has been forsaken.

photo

 

photo


photo

There is a sponsored Unesco and Italian project to fix up hundreds of abandoned parcels to prevent landslides (like the one from 2011), but also to show to the younger generations that agriculture is still possible in Cinque Terre.

photo

You will see some blue signs along this part of the hike. They are for the Sciacche Rail, the 47-kilometer Cinque Terre Ultra trail.

photo

The registration is limited to 300 athletes and you must have completed a qualifying race within the time limit.

photo

To follow the trail from Groppo, you cross the road at least four times.

photo

 

photo

 

photo

 

photo

 

photo

 

photo

 

photo

 

photo

 

photo

As you approach Manarola, you can see vehicles parking the few free parking spots along the road. In Manarola, like the rest of the seaside villages, you will see traffic bars preventing you from going further down into the village.  For Manarola, on the right of the traffic bar, are the paid parking spots. The parking fees are around 25 Euros per day.

photo

It’s not a big parking area, so spots are limited, especially during summer’s weekends.

photo

Reaching the church will be the end of your loop. But before it, you can see the signs for the most famous restaurant in Manarola, Trattoria dal Billy.

photo

A few meters after the sign, there is a sign for the Riomaggiore - Manarola (via Beccara) trail. The 1.4 km trail is expected to reopen in April 2021.

photo

This trail is a popular place for walking in winter as you can watch the Manarola Christmas nativity scene.

photo

 

photo