Rain, flooding destroy tourist hot spot

by Larry A. Burns Jr.
Contributing writer

Cinque Terre, Italy, has been hailed as one the world’s most picturesque vacation spots by numerous travel magazines, websites and world travelers. In 1997, it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

But on Oct. 25, torrential rains pounded this beautiful Italian city, sending a wall of mud careening down the valley above the fishing village of Vernazza, washing away cars, parts of homes and anything else that got in its way.

On Wednesday, when the sun came up over the ridge of the mountain-top, pure devastation was revealed. The villages hit the hardest were Monterosso al Mare and Vernazza. According to the popular Italian website AGI.it, “Vernazza, one of the most important beauty spots in the Cinque Terre region, is currently only reachable by sea and may remain isolated from the mainland for years. There has been €50 million worth of damage to Vernazza, and the only road to Vernazza has been totally destroyed.”

Another €30 million in damages had been claimed in Monterosso. Currently, the estimated damage in Cinque Terre has risen to the hundreds of millions of euro. Ten people have also reportedly died.

“Monterosso no longer exists,” the mayor of Monterosso al Mare was quoted saying.

The rain damaged areas stretch from just south of Genova all the way to Tuscany. The railroad between Genova and La Spezia, which links the five villages of Cinque Terre to the outside world, was closed due to the mudslides that covered  the tracks.

The train tracks were re-opened on Monday with limited service. The train station of Vernazza remains closed to the public due to the extent of the damage in the village.

If Cinque Terre recovers, it is going to need the support of tourists coming back and patronizing hotels, restaurants, bars and other businesses.