A 300 meters high, in a dominant and sunny position, the village of Volastra represents the ideal alternative for those in search of relaxation and tranquility. Located within the Cinque Terre National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site , Volastra is immersed in the greenery of its centuries-old olive groves and vineyards, preserving the characteristics of the Ligurian village of mid-coast that gently winds along the slope of the hill on which it rests, with typical colored houses with stone portals that huddle together in an ancient defensive function, overlooking the paved alleys. Extraordinarily panoramic, the village offers glimpses of the Cinque Terre sea, extremely suggestive paths and a tranquility far from mass tourism.
The shape of the village suggested a probable Etruscan layout, but it is safer that Volastra originated in Roman times, when it was designated with the toponym "vicus oleaster", the country of the olive trees , as horse exchange station along the ancient road of the Sanctuaries that passes through here. Around the year 1000, when the seas became safer due to a respite from the Saracens' pirate activities, the inhabitants of the village spilled out to the coast, founding Manarola as a trade center to expand the possibilities of livelihood by drawing on sea resources. Since then we do not know of any other significant historical episodes and the history of Volastra was linked to the events of Manarola, from which it is less than 1 km away and is also connected to it by a flight of 365 steps.
At the top of the village is the major cultural attraction of Volastra, the Shrine of Our Lady della Salute which is part of the Cinque Terre Sanctuary complex. Dating back to the 12th century and built in Romanesque style and subsequent Gothic architectural additions, the Sanctuary has a simple and elegant façade with blocks of local stone and arches, a sandstone portal, Gothic mullioned windows and narrow single-lancet windows mark the side walls. The interior offers stone interiors, a gothic arch apse and a Baroque altar. Here the image of a Madonna is venerated, but originally the 15th century triptych was exhibited with San Lorenzo among the Saints Antonio Abbot and Bernardino, attributed to the Master of the Cinque Terre (artist with mysterious traits, of whom we know little and nothing, perhaps lived at the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries and today preserved in the church of Manarola. The feast of the Sanctuary occurs on September 8th. The Sanctuary is open every day.
Volastra represents an important crossroads of the paths and mule tracks that make up the dense network of historic Cinque Terre rural paths. We have already said how it represents a stage of the Route of the Sanctuaries: from the sanctuary of Montenero di Riomaggiore we reach the Sanctuary of Nostra Signora della Salute through a short section in common with path 506V, then 502 and 530, then 501 with the Telegraph and finally following the 530 with Montenero connection. The road to the Sanctuaries also continues from the Sanctuary of Nostra Signora della Salute towards the Sanctuary of Nostra Signora delle Grazie in Corniglia, also known as the Sanctuary of San Bernardino, via path 506 which leads to Monte Marvede and then, after crossing the junction with path 587 , take a short stretch of the Alta Via delle Cinque Terre (AV5T). The paths of Volastra are practicable almost all year round thanks to the mild climate. From them we can admire extraordinary views of the sea, we walk along the walls of the Cinque Terre, among the colors and scents of the Mediterranean scrub, olive groves and vineyards . They give an extra virgin olive oil that can bear the dop (protected designation of origin) Riviera Ligure di Levante, the white wines of the Cinque Terre DOC, the Sciacchetrà and the DOC Costa da Posa.
An oral tradition dating back to Saracen times tells that one day, when the corsairs attacked the coast of the Cinque Terre, the richest inhabitants of Volastra lowered the bells from the church bell tower to hide them underground, so that they did not attract pirates with their glitter. Together, they also hid their most precious ones. The pirates also arrived in the village and, finding nothing precious to plunder, put the entire village to fire and sword. About seventy years after the episode, from Manarola came a strange old man who spoke with an oriental accent. He settled in Volastra and revealed that he was one of the survivors of that night, told of being taken prisoner and that he had returned, running away, to find the buried treasure of bells and valuables. But he died the day he revealed his story, without being able to confess to the precise place where the treasure was hidden. It is said that since then, on stormy nights, we hear the hidden bells ringing.
You can get to Volastra with car . After exiting at the "LA SPEZIA-S.STEFANO MAGRA" tollbooth on the A12 Genova-Livorno or A15 Parma-La Spezia motorway, follow the directions for La Spezia and once in the city (after 5 km from the motorway junction) proceed along the seafront in the direction of CINQUE TERRE-Portovenere, following the indications. At one point, after the military arsenal of La Spezia (of which you can see the main entrance on your left) and the municipal stadium A. Picco, the roads divide: you will have to proceed straight uphill towards Manarola-Riomaggiore, taking the SP n ° 370 "Cinque Terre coast" . Proceed, pass the crossroads to go down to Riomaggiore and Manarola, and, after passing the pretty village of Groppo, you will reach Volastra with the SP 51. The parking lot is located along the road, in a square and an open space before entering the village. Volastra can also be reached via the 29 ATC line buses that depart from Chiodo Square in La Spezia, here the timetable .
Despite Volastra being a small town, it has some essential services such as bars, restaurants and accommodation facilities for staying in the village. Search and book online your b & b in the Cinque Terre and Volastra .
The train, surely the best means of travel to visit the Cinque Terre and be enchanted by the beauty of the Ligurian sea. From March 16th the 5 Terre Express train is in service to travel comfortably between La Spezia Centrale, Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, Monterosso and Levanto with a single single fare ticket, taking advantage of the offer of 100 trains a day, 7 days a week, every 15 minutes