Manarola and the Nessun Dorma Saga

Manarola and the Nessun Dorma Saga

Today’s lunch plans started at about 10:00, but lunch didn’t actually happen until after 1:00. But I should probably start this story at the beginning . . . In 2019.


That was when we discovered the cliff side restaurant called Nessun Dorma, in Manarola, after a long hike down from the mountain village of Corniglia. We were travelling with David and Ayami at the time and arrived at the oceanside village of Manarola, hot and sticky and ready to eat. From above we could see the umbrellas of this restaurant and immediately decided that we were going there. So we sent Don ahead to get us a table because it looked busy. This was a good move because he got the last available cliff side table and we had the most amazing lunch of various kinds of bruschetta, meats and cheeses, etc. So it will come as no surprise that one of our first priorities upon arrival was to make a reservation there for our stay this time, because it is a very busy place.

Of course, the world has changed since we were last here, and now you can’t make a reservation exactly, you now have to have “the app”. You still can’t book on the app though, what you have to do instead is open the app and wait until exactly 12:30, then press the button to get a place in line! I was fast, but 19 people were faster.

Complicating matters was an in house pesto making course, which (good for them) filled all the tables with eager pesto makers who had to leave before there were tables for eager lunch goers.

Somehow, we got there at 11:30. So we took a shaded picnic table in the little part above the restaurant and got to hear much of the pesto making instructions and see how much work goes into making pesto with a mortar and pestle. A. Lot. Once they had their little 2 tbsps of pesto, they also got a charcuterie board and some local wine to go with. All this, and an apron, for 60 euro each. But we could smell the garlic from above.

Pesto making class

So at 12:30 (exactly), the rest of us malingerers headed down to the entryway to jostle for positions. Don ended up by some Californians, and regaled them with one good story or another while I went a little further down the line.

The young couple next to me were from France, so I asked what their number was, to gauge if we were kind of in the right position. They were 18 and we were 20, so that was good. A couple of guys tried to budge past us and someone asked his number – “54” he said. One of the Italians told him to head to the back!

This guy was just ahead of me on the stairs – I guess no one told him about the pickpockets that ply their trade all around here.

It is a very tightly run ship and we got in pretty quickly once the pesto makers finally left. We were shown to a table not on the water side, but I noticed that a guy on his phone at the waterfront table across from us had a pesto maker’s apron on, so I went over and asked if he was leaving. He said, “Yes, in about 5 minutes, I am waiting for my wife to come back (from the can, which is actually in the park above)”. Yay – that’s great, but what would be even better would be if he would trade seats with us while he waited, so we could snag the good seats, and he very good-naturedly agreed to that. Don is never quite sure whether to be embarrassed or proud when I do things like this, but he was pretty happy today.

So worth all the aggravation and waiting and standing in line . . .

Manarola is very small and quaint – the mammas were chatting and the young bucks were cliff jumping into the sparkling sea.

By the time we had waited in the sun for our train and climbed the steep hill back to our little villa, I think I had a bit of heat exhaustion. Did the cold shower thing and had a 2 hour nap, then moved to the couch for another nap. Somehow, about 7:30, I magically recovered just in time for a wee glass of limoncello. As you do. Tomorrow we swim!

6 responses to “Manarola and the Nessun Dorma Saga”

  1. Sounds like Italy is all about eating, drinking fine wine and napping oh and hiking up to the restaurant to be first in line.😁


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