Italy Travelers Should Not Hesitate to Visit the Cinque Terre Region
With the flooding disaster hitting the Cinque Terre region of Italy just a little over six months ago, many tourists with plans to travel to the country are questioning whether the spectacular rugged coast of the Italian Riviera is worth visiting this summer.
Fortunately, three of the five villages built along the edge of sheer cliffs that overlook the sea were not affected by the disaster at all, and the other two are on their way to a quick recovery. It will be important to the entire region financially for visitors to continue to bring their tourist dollars to the small family businesses that count on that money to keep afloat each season.
On October 25, 2011 torrential rains led to flash floods and mudslides leaving nine dead and extensive damage to the area, with the villages of Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare hit the hardest. Rick Steves, a leading authority on travel to the area, visited the communities on the sixth month anniversary of the disaster and urges tourists to choose between two of the villages that were the most flood ravaged. The other three, Riomaggiore, Manarola, and Corniglia are said to be getting plenty of business and don’t need the tourism dollars as much.
Steves notes that Monterosso is completely ready and Vernazza, “with a few hotels and restaurants already open, expects to be ready for prime time by June.”
Tourists will be greatly appreciated by residents and they’ll also be able to enjoy the strong feeling of camaraderie that is palpable in both Monterossa and Vernazza as they celebrate their recovery. The trails that are so popular for hiking are open once again after crews have worked tirelessly to put them back together.
A tiny restaurant in Vernazza, Trattoria de Piva, known for its heavenly Pesto Gnocchi, was lost in the disaster. The only item the owner, Piva, was able to save was his guitar. Piva is not only the restaurant’s owner and chef, but he is a musician whose songs exemplify the passion for life that is usually associated with Italians. Fortunately Piva was able to rebuild and now has several shiny new kitchen appliances, along with his well-worn guitar that still has traces of mud caked on its neck, according to Steves.
The villages are filled with residents who have some amazing stories of heroes as well as family and friends who were lost that fateful day. The president of Italy, Georgio Napolitano, visited Vernazza recently and tried the region’s signature dish at Gianni Franzi’s restaurant, pasta with pesto, and promised to fly the chef to Rome so that he could cook it at the presidential palace.
Napolitano was said to be visibly moved during his time in Vernazza. He summed up the experience by concluding his speech saying that his visited helped him understand that with the people of Vernazza there is “great hope…”
With the warmth of the hardy people of the Cinque Terre as well as the mouth-watering dishes found here, visitors to Italy should not miss the experience of one of the most magnificent regions on earth.
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