The small Italian town of Manarola hugs the mountainous rock face above the Mediterranean. This may be the most picturesque small town I’ve ever visited.
We stayed in a clean, inviting B&B. The friendly desk clerk chatted with us about the place. It was a home and shop, now turned into a hotel, run by the same family for generations. The grandpa tends to the garden. He takes pride in growing flowers — and giant lemons.
We asked who tends the winding hills. The answer? Everyone who lives in this town. Each property comes with a plot of land far above the house. So each owner builds stone stairways and plants and harvests.
The problem, we learned, is that the older folks of the town aren’t able to climb the hills and keep up their gardens. What our friend yearns for is for more young people to move to Manarola and put their energy into balancing in the dirt and growing the grapes and tomatoes that help sustain the town.
I loved staying in Manarola. Our friend at the hotel called his friend at the best restaurant in town and asked to reserve a table for us. So we got the prize place by the window and enjoyed fresh seafood and local wine. Everyone knows everyone else here and they look out for each other (and guests!).
So much that’s good in a small town can be found in Manarola. If you have a chance to visit, you’ll love it. And you just may bump into our friend, who will still be looking for newcomers to put down roots.
The hotel we stayed in is Hotel Ca D’Andrean. It’s simply perfect.