Thursday, October 27, 2011

Can we help The Cinque Terre and Lunigiana Get Back Up on their Feet?

Vernazza as it was April 2011
As many of you have already read the Cinque Terre in Liguria and the Lunigiana area which extends into Tuscany were struck with exceptionally heavy rain and devastating mudslides early Wednesday morning. The images of mudslides sweeping away cars, boats, homes, shops and restaurants in the quaint town of Vernazza conjure up disbelief in someone like me who has recently returned for a second visit to shop, eat the best pesto on the planet and enjoy the beauty of marvelous towns clinging to a hillside.  Worse yet is that lives have been lost or are missing as a result of the violent effect of the storm.

I know I speak for anyone who has ever set foot in this enchanting area of Italy when I say that it is heart wrenching to see the Cinque Terre brought to its knees. What was once a chain of sleepy fishermen villages connected by the sea or by winding coastal footpaths had only just begun to flourish from international tourism and strengthen its economy. Now one of Italy’s most beautiful spots—and Italy is known for her beautiful spots—must recon with the rage of what makes it so special: the picturesque hillside that not so gently sweeps toward the sea.

The sea at Vernazza April 2011
In the days to come fingers will be pointed, most likely at the government for not providing adequate river banks and sustaining walls, but 
what is more unfortunate is that Italy isn't known to be quick at providing financial aid for cleanup and following through to get people and businesses back on their feet. They try, but bureaucracy doesn't run at the same speed as the desperation that strikes the family shoveling mud out the window of their second floor apartment or the restaurant owner who has just closed a remarkable season but will hardly be able to cover the cost of replacing everything.

I have never used my blog to promote the collection of funds, but my time in Italy has taught me that the government may not be capable or able to see these towns through their difficulties. So, I am going to provide a link to "Un Aiuto  
Main seaside Piazza in Vernazza April 2011

Subito. Alluvione Levante Ligure e Lunigiana...Immediate Help. Floods in Levante Ligure and Lunigiana"

The link was set up by Corriere della Sera, an Italian national newspaper and Tg7, a national news channel. There is a bank account number and a cellphone number (Send a blank text message to 45500). Every Euro helps…so please pitch in and spread the word.

For those donating from Italy: Conto Corrente IT80O30690506110000 0000567 Reference: «Un aiuto subito. Alluvione Levante ligure e Lunigiana» presso Banca Intesa Sanpaolo, filiale di Roma, viale Lina Cavalieri 236 or from an Italian cellphone or landline send an SMS text message to 45500. Two euro will be donated to the fund with each message. Please spread the word!
The photos on this page were taken in Vernazza during my trip in April 2011. Links below will give you an idea of what Vernazza looked like two days ago.

Photos of Vernazza during the flood:

 Photos of the situation 

The edge of Vernazza meeting the sea


  1. This is wonderful, I know from experience that individuals can make a difference. We went through the floods in Queensland (although not directly) and saw the human spirit at work. As you say I don't expect the structure to be like that in Australia but I know the people are just as tough, loving and ready to help where possible even if it is just spreading the news about ways to donate. ciao lisa

  2. PS I followed the link, I am not so good at reading Italian. Is there any way for those outside Italy to donate? ciao lisa

  3. Hi, Lisa. I was hoping to have a cellphone number to post by now, but Tg7's mid-day news program said it is not yet up and running. As soon as I get it I will post it here, on Twitter and on Facebook. I would imagine the cell number can be texted from abroad, too. Just so you know all the major news channels are covering the disaster. Showing all the damage on the coast and inland; Vernazza is still only accessible by sea. I fear for those people that are still unaccounted for.


  4. This breaks my heart! We spent wonderful times in Vernazza, in a room that overlooked the piazza at the harbor. Thanks for the info.

  5. Thanks for doing this, Marie. I'm passing this along to some friends here in the States who love the Cinque Terre (and especially Vernazza) as much as I do. Hope they'll want to help too.

  6. Hi my friend, back from my travels and trying to catch up with all my favourite bloggers. This is all so sad and it has got worse since you wrote this post. :(

  7. Last autumn my husband and I were sitting in that piazza in blazing sunshine drinking latte macchiato. A waiter took our photo for us, and later we walked down to the end of the quay and I took photos of the boats on that little beach.

    It is all so sad. All those poor people .. I hope not too many families suffered injury or loss of their loved ones. Clearly there was a huge loss of property, which they probably can't afford... I hope the pretty little church wasn't too badly damaged, too.