AccessMyLibrary provides FREE access to millions of articles from top publications available through your library.
The Cinque Terre is arguably the most famous region of Liguria, and the crowds of (mostly American) tourists hiking the trails and sunning themselves on rocky jetties come summer seems testimony that the formerly secret spot is now practically a household name. The onslaught of tourism has put the villages, which are deeply and traditionally tied to their surrounding environment, in the classic predicament of supply and demand. They must determine how many concessions--environmental, societal, cultural, and otherwise--they will make to accommodate the market's hunger for a Cinque Terre experience.
That experience generally involves hiking the trails, formed over centuries, that connect the five villages of Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. They cross through olive groves and gardens and areas of natural Mediterranean maquis, offering a vantage to observe the terraced landscape of dry stone walls that enabled habitation of this otherwise inaccessible spot. Once these were the only routes of communication and transport between the hamlets. Then came the railway and just decades ago, road access. Driving is a tortuous experience as cars careen down impossibly narrow and curvy streets from high up the mountainside. And then there's the problem of parking....
All this exposure has had positive and negative impacts on the Cinque Terre, and various institutions are now in place to protect the landscape that's been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The terrain and the sea surrounding it is a national park, and is being carefully stewarded by overseers who hope to turn the Cinque Terre into a model of harmonious integration between humans and their environment. Plans include the opening of natural health centers, where visitors learn traditional earth-based remedies for common ailments, and how holistic living promotes greater individual and planetary peace. In this way the Five Lands intend to transform the Cinque Terre experience into something longer lasting--and more deeply beneficial--than just a tan or some riveting photographs.
By Train: Although each town has its own train station, only local access trains stop at the Cinque Terre villages. Levanto to the north and La Spezia to the south are the connection sites for Regionale trains heading to the towns. Between the villages its handy to use the R trains, but be certain you consult the timetable (posted at the station) to determine if there are any special exceptions for train traffic on that day (holidays, weekends, etc., may have different schedules). A Cinque Terre Card, purchased in daily increments, gives you unlimited train travel between La Spezia and Levanto. For schedules, see www.trenitalia.it.
By Car: If you're determined to drive, plan on parking far from your destination and lugging your luggage back and forth. Take the A12 autostrada and exit Carrodano-Levanto. Follow the signs to Monterosso (15 km/nine miles), or onward to Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, or Riomaggiore.
By Boat: During the Easter holidays and summer season, there is regular ferry service between the villages of the Cinque Terre and the towns on the gulf of La Spezia, provided by the Consorzio Navigazione-Golfo dei Poeti. For schedules, see www.navigazionegolfodeipoeti.it. You can purchase a Cinque Terre Card with optional inclusion of unlimited ferry service.
For Active Travelers
Most travelers know about the famed hiking trails connecting the five villages of the Cinque Terre. Less well-known are the trails connecting the villages to …