After being invited to attend the exhibition for the Premio La Spezia, on the Italian Riviera in 1955, Birolli discovered the village of Manarola in the Cinque Terre region. There, between 1955 and 1958 he was a frequent visitor to the cliffs and towns of this region of the Ligurian coast and the landscapes and inhabitants of the area were to become a key source of inspiration for his paintings and his writings. Most notably, the impact of the surroundings of the Cinque Terre on the artist resulted in a well-known series of dramatic paintings, dating from 1955 until his death in 1959.
Lionello Venturi described Birolli's later painting as 'astratto-concreto', with his work tending towards a more abstract formalism. Throughout his career, Birolli had continued to include figurative elements in his works as he grappled with the dialectic between abstraction and formalism. Birolli's paintings were never strictly naturalistic during this later period of his life. Indeed the images of harsh contrast and the juxtaposition of forms and colours of the Cinque Terre landscape were ingrained in his creative mind and are apparent in all of his works from these years. The artist was particularly struck by the small and frequent bush fires that would appear in the mountains and along the coast of the region. In particular, there were often larger fires whipped up by strong winds that could sometimes transform the mountainous landscape of the Cinque Terre into a series of fiery 'volcanoes'.
Lionello Venturi, the critic of the 'Otto Pittori' group to which Birolli belonged, wrote of his Cinque Terre paintings that, 'although Birolli has no wish to reproduce things from Nature, he does want to portray things created by his imagination. This is for him his manner of approaching the concrete through lines, forms, and colours autonomously expressed in their relation to reality. The bursts of colours of the years 1955 and 1956 seem like conflagrations of spiritualised matter: an energy outside the matter. The motive is here and the reality is there, but it is a reality one finds only in the paintings of Birolli.' (Lionello Venturi, quoted in exh. cat., Birolli, New York, Catherine Viviano Gallery, April-May 1958).