Looking across the turquoise blue water of the harbour towards the colourful houses perched impossibly on the cliffs of Manarola, this is one of the best views in Manarola and possibly one of the best views in Cinque Terre, Italy.
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But this famous view of Manarola comes at the price of a restaurant booking at Nessun Dorma.
While the restaurant prices aren’t too extortionate (be prepared to pay a little more for the view, but I was surprised it wasn’t more expensive to be honest), the trick however, is getting a booking at the restaurant itself.
Nessun Dorma has around 15-20 tables, being perched on a cliff it obviously isn’t a huge place, which means tables are at a premium.
But you can’t just turn up and hope for a seat, in fact you can’t even make a reservation over the phone either.
The restaurant takes bookings via the Nessun Dorma app
Fortunately I had researched this beforehand and already had the app downloaded and joined the “queue” on the app about 1 hour before they opened.
In fact, I joined the queue on the app before they opened and before we even got to Manarola - I recommend joining the queue on the app around 2-3 hours before you plan to arrive as we still had a 2 hour wait for our slot and this was in late September - prepare to wait longer or join even earlier if you want to get a table at sunset or if you’re visiting in July and August.
An alternative to Nessun Dorma in Manarola?
If you’ve left it too late to get a spot in the queue for Manarola’s Nessun Dorma restaurant or you simply don’t have time to wait that long for a slot… have no fear!
I’ve got a brilliant solution for you that I discovered on our visit.
On the cliff directly above Nessun Dorma is a public picnic area that’s completely free for anyone to enjoy.
You can get some focaccia from a bakery in Manarola, perhaps a bottle of wine or some beers from the shop and enjoy your own Italian picnic right there with a spectacular view - no waitlist, no reservations, no fee.
How to get to the famous view of Manarola for free?
If you want to know how to see this famous Cinque Terre view of Manarola, it’s really easy to get there.
Simply follow the directions to Nessun Dorma, you can use Google Maps (or an alternative) or if you don’t have data, follow these directions:
Walk to the harbour of Manarola so the sea is in front of you
Turn right and walk along the cliff path
Once you reach the section with railings so you’re looking across the harbour to Manarola, keep walking until you see some stone steps “Restaurant Nessun Dorma” is sign posted
Go up the steps and you’ll find yourself higher up opposite Manarola village behind a wooden railing - this is where the queue is for the restaurant
Right before the actual restaurant entrance you’ll see some steps to your left - take these (these actually lead to the restaurant toilet facilities too so don’t be confused by the “toilet” signs)
When you get to the top of the stairs, you’ll see the picnic area on your right
If you look over the barrier you’ll see that you’re right above the diners in the restaurant and the view is exactly the same
What you need to know about this Manarola view point
There are only about 5-6 wooden benches here but there are also some rocks and floor area to sit on
This area gets most busy around lunchtime and sunset so avoid those times if possible, unless you don’t mind a few crowds to get to the view!
There are public toilets here but there’s a fee (1 euro)
The picnic area is free to access as there’s also a small children's park too - don’t let anyone try to scam you by telling you there’s an entry fee!
Take your own food and drinks up here to relax and enjoy the view
Summary: Free alternative to Nessun Dorma in Manarola
I saw a lot of people come to the restaurant and be disappointed when they were turned away or told that they need to have the app and wait for 2+ hours.
For some people, this kind of wait time is worth it but for others it isn’t. So don’t be disappointed - there’s an identical view right above the restaurant that’s totally free and perfect to see one of the most picture perfect views of Cinque Terre, Italy.
Hopefully this guide gives you all the details you need to find the picnic area and make the most of your time travelling in Cinque Terre.
Pin for later to plan your future trip!