After floods devastated the Cinque Terre in fall 2011, there’s been a big question on every Liguria-lover’s mind: Have the towns reopened their doors, and trails, to visitors?
In a word: Yes. The Cinque Terre is open. By Easter, for example, 90 percent of its hotels and B&Bs had reopened. And, with many tourists avoiding this stunning section of Italian coastline because of the news, now is a crucial time to go: Every traveler’s dollar helps rebuild the towns and coast. (Not to mention that, since tourism is down, so far about 60 percent, there’s a bonus for travelers—fewer crowds and more tranquil trails!).
But there are, of course, caveats. The floods were so terrible—shops and trails were all but washed away—that, although the Cinque Terre has met its goal of being reopen by Easter 2012, reconstruction remains ongoing.
Here’s an update on what to expect in the Cinque Terre right now.
Trails in the Cinque Terre
The Cinque Terre’s famed hiking trails already had it tough. Dirt paths, often too narrow for two people to walk side-by-side, on top of almost-sheer drops to the sea, they were often shut down in the case of heavy rains or poor weather even before the flooding. So it’s little surprise that restoring the trails has been one of the tougher parts of the Cinque Terre’s comeback.
That said, two of the five main hiking paths have been opened. The “Via dell’Amore” between Riomaggiore and Manarola, was reopened first; short, smooth, paved and flat, with spectacular views of the sea, this is, by far, the easiest and most popular path. At the other end of the stretch, the Monterosso al Mare to Vernazza path was just reopened a few days ago.
As always when hiking in the Cinque Terre, keep in mind that these are serious walks on narrow, risky paths. Bring proper shoes, water, and always respect the signs when a trail is closed.
Monterosso al Mare
When the floods hit, tons of mud buried the town of Monterosso, one of the most popular towns for people to stay in the Cinque Terre. One person was killed. Shops were destroyed and streets ripped open.
But the people of Monterosso set a goal: By Easter, they’d reopen. And they’ve met that goal. Just check out these photos of what Monterosso al Mare looked like in early April in the aptly-titled photogallery “Monterosso is Back.” As proof, here’s one shot (courtesy of Buongiorno Monterosso):
And the vast majority of the town’s hotels and restaurants already have reopened. Here’s an up-to-date list of the openings in Monterosso al Mare.
Riomaggiore, Corniglia and Manarola
These towns weren’t hit by floods or mudslides, so accommodation, shops and restaurants are up and running as usual.
Often considered the jewel in the crown of the Cinque Terre, Vernazza was also the hardest-hit by the floods. More than 100 mudslides buried the town in some 13 feet of mud (up to first-floor balconies), ruined shops and homes, cut off water, and caused 108 million euros worth of damage. Three people were killed.
These photos paint a picture of how damaged the town was. For 150 days, Vernazza shut its doors entirely to visitors.
Steadily, however, the town has been repairing. It reopened to tourists in time for Easter and, while work is ongoing, some parts of it look (almost) back to normal. A few restaurants and shops have reopened, while many more are slated for openings in May. Check out Save Vernazza’s up-to-date list of openings for more.
Have you been to the Cinque Terre after the flooding? How did it seem to you? Let us know in the comments!
Blogs we’ve been following for updates on the Cinque Terre:
Little Paradiso, a blog on the Cinque Terre written by Italian-Texan Kate Little