Friday, October 28, 2011

Trouble in Cinque Terre

Vernazza Harbour Was Hammered By Mud Flows Tuesday

Inter-Village Trail Approaching Monterosso Which Was Also Impacted Tuesday
You may have heard that there have been floods in Italy. Our most favorite northern Italian locale, the Cinque Terre (5 Lands) has suffered terrific damage and loss of life...but we first heard of trouble in Cinque Terre before the floods...political trouble. Hopefully we can briefly cover both here.

The Cinque Terre is made up of 5 villages along the steep Ligurian coastline between Levanto in the north, and the port city of La Spezia. In 2005 we managed to visit each of the five villages using trains, cars and of course the fantastic trail that links them. From the north: Monterosso al Mare; Vernazza; Corniglia; Manarola; Riomaggiore.  

This past week, Liguria had heavy rains that resulted in flooding and also debris torrents in Monterosso and Vernazza. The area is known for the steep hillsides down to the sea and for the centuries-old farm terraces where grapes and olives are growing.  The towns are a mess and it will cost millions of euro to cleanup, but I think the hard working people will dig away the mud and debris and get it fixed quickly. Hopefully, efforts will be made to stabilize remaining steep open ground.  The initial quote from the Monterosso mayor was a bit much (scaring us by saying Monterosso "no longer exists"), but here is a LINK.
Near Riomaggiore Train Station -- Hiking Trail Taking off in Upper Left of Image
Terraced Vines and Fields
Doug's First Italian Dream Home Along the Trail

Ancient Gardens Accessed by Inter-Village Trail
The Cinque Terre is threatened by more than erosion. Its status as a UNESCO site and a separate Parco Nationale may not be enough to protect the area. Because of its natural beauty and cultural heritage, it is getting loved-to-death.

We both have seen examples of this in America where great spots attract developers who expand and grow and pretty soon, the original enchanting attraction is gone (aka Colorado). In Cinque Terre those wanting to take advantage of tourism (tourism is supposedly “green” after-all) have also drawn-in the greedy and corrupt to the point that National Park directors and others have been forced out and charged with multiple crimes after stripping-away covenants designed to protect the landscape and cultural heritage that makes the area so special.

Here’s a LINK to a website about two American women doing a film documentary about the development problem in Cinque Terre. We intend to support their efforts and hope that many of you do as well.

We have both wanted to get involved as volunteers for something that called out to us here. The language barrier lives, but is slowly crumbling. Helping native Italians protect their Cinque Terre is something to think about. It is that special. 

One regional land-use planning lesson-learned that might fit there –- it is okay to say enough is enough (for hotels and similar developments) and it’s okay if not everyone who wants to come see the place will be able to so when they want. Shoulder season visitation can lessen impacts to the ground while lengthening the revenue season.

P.S. here's a LINK to our post about our trip to Cinque Terre.

Monterosso al Mare Viewed from the Trail -- Lots of Mud Came Down that Valley Above It


  1. This is just so sad. It is amazing how suddenly things can change. Please continue to post information about this since the US News barely mentioned it.



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