Video of the flood in Vernazza, of the Cinque Terre, and cars being washed away on Tuesday, October 25.
It’s hard to believe that only a month ago, I was hiking the Cinque Terre Trails, and marveling at the beauty of the five villages. When I think of Vernazza, I remember eating pesto pizza under colorful umbrellas on the promontory by the sea, and then lying on the stone walls in the harbor watching the Italian water taxi owners navigating into the idyllic turquoise waters of the harbor.
Artists and photographers love capturing this perfection. Participants of my Italy Retreat for Women and I passed a lazy afternoon digesting the pizza and resting from our 90 minute breathtaking hike from Monterosso to Vernazza, which included hundreds and hundreds of steps. A wedding was taking place at the church, and my group and I thought we were in heaven or shangri-la. We truly deeply experienced la dolce fa niente, the sweetness of doing nothing.
Then, like a horror movie, on Tuesday, October 25, this jewel on the Italian Riviera was covered with up to 12 feet of mud. Cars, boats, and possessions were sucked like corks in an undertow, into a mudslide and street turned into a raging river.
I have spent a week each year, for the past three years, in Cinque Terre, and this year I repeatedly commented that the water was crystal clear, more beautiful than any other time. It reminded me more of the Caribbean. Now the harbor water is muddy and the streets and piazza covered with mud.
But, they will recover, although our support is crucial.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Firstly, plan to visit the Cinque Terre during the tourist season, so that their businesses can prosper. Secondly, please give to their recovery fund. Every small amount will add up. This is a part of the world that is paradise, and we can help insure that it rebuilds.
Several ex-pats from the US, who now live in Vernazza, have created a website called Save Vernazza ONLUS, so you can donate DIRECTLY to Vernazza. Please spread the word.
If you have ever visited Cinque Terre, you would know this is a cause worth supporting. And if you have not had the pleasure, please add Cinque Terre to your travel list in 2012, or join me in September 2012 as I will be returning there for my Italy Retreat for Women.
The residents of Vernazza were evacuated, however, members of the army and rescue team have continued with the clean-up.
You can view a video of the clean up progress that has been made so far at YouReporter.it.
Be sure also to visit Nicole at CulturalComments Blog for more photos and updated information on Vernazza.
Photo credit: Before photos I took in September of Vernazza Harbor and some of the steps on the Vern-Monterosso Trail
Photo credit: After the flood: from Come To Liguria Blog.