Cinque Terre (“5 Lands”)
Cinque Terre is a cluster of 5 Italian seaside villages, and the name literally translates from Italian to the English “5 Lands.”
A UNESCO World Heritage Site
Located on a steep and rocky portion of terrain in the Italian Riviera. The five villages include Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manorola, and Riomaggiore. These close knit communities, along with the coastline itself and the surrounding hillsides, all comprise the Cinque Terre National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The area is a very popular destination for tourists who seek the local flavor of the communities almost entirely free of a corporate presence there since access to the villages is limited with almost no roadways leading out of the villages to other areas.
Transportation into and out of Cinque Terre is usually by train, boat, or foot paths.
This charming and idyllic group of fishing communities was devastated by very damaging floods following a torrential downpour of 22 inches of rain within 4 hours in October of 2011, leaving 2 of the communities deeply layered in mud throughout the towns, and having no running water, electricity or phones in the immediate aftermath.
The rebuilding of the area was quite successful and the seaside villages again enjoy its role as a favorite destination for tourists.
Part of the appeal of this unique grouping of villages is the colorful array of homes seen as one approaches the shore. Each home is painted a different color so that the professional fisherman returning home could spot his home from the others quickly.
Fish was not only used to sell to local markets. It was also the primary food source for the region.
Monterosso and Vernazza
The villages of Monterosso and Vernazza were the first to be recognized historically, in the 11th century. The other communities sprouted around the 16th century under the military and political rule of the neighboring Republic of Genoa.
There came to be an economic decline later in that century, which was relieved only by the building of the Military Arsenal in the adjacent community of Spezia in the 19th century.
The construction of a railroad, which can be seen as a boone to the area for connecting to other communities had the unanticipated effect of townspeople abandoning their homes after so much isolation from the world beyond Cinque Terre.
While still a very popular and picturesque tourist attraction, it has been designated for inclusion in the 2000 and 2002 World Monuments Watch due to a decline in interest among its local area residents to preserve its unique local character.
American Express has even funded research and conservation efforts on behalf of the villages, and a site management plan has been established.
There are numerous 4 and 5 star accommodations throughout these few remaining communities of old world charm.
Further information can be seen at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinque_Terre