Overlooking the Ligurian Sea is the village of Manarola; above Manarola there is a small agglomeration of houses called Volastra. Buried in Volastra, in the garden of some house or in the churchyard of some church, there is a hidden treasure.
The Bells of Volastra
It is not known exactly when the birth of Volastra, a splendid village in the Cinque Terre, dates back, but the legend we are about to tell is more than 700 years old. In those days Volastra was a thriving town; its inhabitants worked the land, traded food and accumulated wealth. One day the wealthiest families, grateful for their possessions, melted gold and silver and made magnificent bells for the church in the town.
Attracted by his fame, the Saracens, cruel and bloodthirsty pirates, soon arrived in Volastra. As soon as they sighted their sails, the inhabitants of Volastra barricaded themselves inside the walls, in the hope that the houses of the village would not be noticed. Even the bells, which sent their flashes to the coast, were pulled down from the bell tower and hidden, together with the citizens’ possessions: legend has it that men dug a deep hole, stored the treasure in it and we submerged it under ten meters of land. The village was not spared from the incursion: the Saracens put it on fire; many houses were razed and children taken away as prisoners. However, the treasure was not found.
Many years later, when the inhabitants had forgotten the Saracen incursion, an old man arrived in Volastra. He wore oddly shaped clothes and his words had a strong oriental accent. He did not introduce himself to the others, but took possession of a dilapidated and uninhabited house for years. In town, he was seen walking in an odd way, calculating meters and measuring steps. When asked why he behaved, he said, “I’m looking for the hidden treasure.” Just that evening, the old man died without having time to say where the treasure was; but that night the inhabitants of Volastra heard the sound of a bell that seemed to come from underground …