Volastra is a hamlet in the municipality of Riomaggiore. This ancient hillside village, in the shape of an amphitheatre, is situated less than a kilometre from Manarola and about twenty-seven kilometres from La Spezia. Its name comes from the Latin Vicus oleaster, meaning town of the olive trees.
Volastra is the perfect destination for those seeking peace and relaxation, and the starting point of numerous footpath/bridleways. The hamlet is circular in shape and probably of Etruscan origin. Its houses look onto carruggi and are decorated with stone portals dating back to the sixteenth century. Volastra has kept its close relationship with the land and farming alive and succeeded in transforming its pastoral roots into tourist attractions. It features the famous terracing seen in all the Cinque Terre villages, with low, dry stone walls and crops of vines and olive trees.
Thanks to the mild climate, the area can be visited all year round, although the best seasons for peaceful country walks are spring and autumn.
Just outside the populated area stands the Sanctuary of Nostra Signora della Salute, connected to the four villages by the Via dei Santuari. This building dates back to the twelfth century and was originally dedicated to San Lorenzo and then to the Virgin Mary in the sixteenth century. It is in the Romanesque style, with a frescoed ceiling, and its façade features a Gothic mullioned window.
The hamlet of Volastra is one of the bases from which to explore the Via dei Santuari, a hillside path connecting five places of worship that watch over the villages (namely the Sanctuary of Montenero in Riomaggiore, the Sanctuary of Nostra Signora della Salute in Volastra, the Sanctuary of San Bernardino, the Sanctuary of Madonna di Reggio in Vernazza and the Sanctuary of Madonna di Soviore in Monterosso). The path, still to this day walked by many Christians during the annual holidays, can be divided into various stages and is a wonderful blend of history and picturesque scenery.
The hamlet's distinguishing features are its carruggi lined with tall houses whose stone portals are decorated with sixteenth-century bas-reliefs. When walking along the paths between the low, dry stone walls and the crystal-clear sea, visitors can enjoy breathtaking views of the Cinque Terre.