Manarola is an old village located along the “Costa del levante”.
There’s uncertainty around its name: it is not known when it was given, and its meaning is still uncertain.
All that is known is that the first houses were built during the XII century, although the mysterious name “Manarola” suggests the village might be much older
One name, 2 stories
It seems that Manarola was founded by a group of citizens from the near Vernazza who moved, during the XII century, towards the interior, thus settling as the first village core.
If its name really dated to that period, we might suppose it derives from “Magna Roea” (big wheel), referring to a big watermill.
In fact, back then Manarola probably had a few watermills, as it has always been renowned for its agricultural production: olive oil and Sciacchetrà have always made the village popular around the world.
Although this might be an easy explanation, maybe more research might reveal more romantic and sacred secrets.
Manarola, in fact, has also a latin etymology: “Manium Arula” (little temple of the “Mani”). The “Mani” were the spirits of the houses, minor divinities that, during the roman empire age, were believed to protect families and houses. If this theory were right, the origins of Manarola might date back to more ancient times than the XII century!
What is left
Either a village of “The big wheel” of “Little temple”, Manarola preserves both origins of its name: its unique position on top of a hill, 70 meters from the sea, is the perfect place to house a temple. The “Santuario di Nostra Signora della Salute” in fact dominates the village: maybe its simple architecture has replaced the ancient legendary temple. The big wheel though is still intact and still spins in the “Parco nazionale delle Cinque Terre”.
A village of history and legends, Manarola still preserves a mysterious and elusive charme.
There’s no need to explain beauty, living it is enough!