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Another 5-minute train ride brings us to Manarola where we walk through a pedestrian tunnel that goes under the tracks, and in a few minutes you will walk through town to the beautiful, azure shores of the Mediterranean.

Manarola spills down the hill to the waterfront, its houses packed solidly together in the typical pattern of the region, with terraced hillsides for the grapes up above.

They don’t have a beach but there is a boat ramp carved into the stone, the most popular spot around, for it functions like a beach, packed with sunbathers.

The ramp leads to a cove with good swimming, further protected by a stone jetty. It’s comfortable here -- not a sandy beach or Olympic-size pool but it is sheltered water and makes a great spot to gather, producing a mix of locals and some tourists; passers-by and people who are just spending an hour or so in Manarola and then moving along.

There’s no room to anchor the boats in the water, so they are stored up on dry land, on a ramp and along the main street as well. The villagers have covered the stream over, so you don’t see it in the middle of town, thereby creating an uninterrupted pedestrian zone. There are quite a few local residents who like to hang out, sit on the bench, chat with their friends and do some people-watching. And the numerous cats also have that same laid-back attitude.

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In the afternoons most of the shops close by 1:00pm for siesta and then re-open at 3:00 or 4:00pm. Some of the tourist shops selling postcards will stay open, but the other stores in the little side streets are going to be closed. So it is a good time to have lunch. You could pick up picnic supplies or sit in one of the many terrace restaurants here. It’s a small place but there is a nice selection of pizzerias and take-out food or of course, the ever-present pasta.

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