A visit to Italy’s Cinque Terre--Five Lands—is a trip back in time to five picturesque villages clinging to the slopes and cliffs above the Ligurian Sea.
Crooked streets wind between colorful homes stacked one above the other. Fishing boats tuck into the small harbors at night. In large degree, English is spoken here only enough to order your dinner and book a room.
In October 2011, the villages of the Cinque Terre—and the hiking trails between them—suffered tragedy when heavy rains caused flooding and landslides, burying the towns of Monterosso al Mare and Vernazza in several feet of mud. Despite the odds, the area was open to visitors by April 2012.
Not only breathtaking scenery, here there is an indomitable spirit. And no wonder. The vineyard terraces are difficult to work. The sea, temperamental. Modern infrastructures were slow to begin and to improve. Roads to the villages are fairly recent developments.
Our friends at Atlas Obscura explore this stunning event and recovery in a recent fascinating article. Click the button below to read.
Bonus Excerpt: Interview with an expert guide
In early 2012, upon the resumption of tourism after the devastating landslides, Cinque Terre guide Loredana Pantano answered some of our questions about her passion for the area.
Why do you love the Cinque Terre?
I love Cinque Terre. I deeply love them. It's a special area of my region, it's like a hidden secret part of a diary; it's like a painting or a concert of music. Not so easy to describe, but easy to live.
A land with thousands of years of history, but so contemporary, so strong and delicate at the same time [that it] welcomes and demands respect. [The Cinque Terre are] protective like a mother, strong like a father and funny like your best friend.
What's your favorite part of the Cinque Terre?
I love all the five lands, like a mother loves all his children, respecting the different personalities of each one. I can say each one has a small private corner, an intimate, hidden refuge that I like to visit and share with my small groups.
What experience do your guests like the most?
I think that each traveler is looking for something special during his journey. Everybody has [their] personal way to travel and visit, and my goal is to understand the dream of each person.
Cinque Terre offer something for all tastes: walking in the carruggi—the small medieval streets—following just the smell of good focaccia bread or pesto sauce, taking a short ferry boat ride to enjoy the unique landscape made by miles of terraced vineyards from the sea, hiking from one village to the other, being in perfect harmony with the nature, meeting happy fishermen with their fresh [catch] or just sitting and tasting a good glass of local wine.
I may say that the experience guests like most, is the wonderful sensation of being part of this masterpiece of nature and simplicity.
We couldn't say it better ourselves!
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