Vernazza – November 6, 2011

Posted by Admin on Nov 6, 2011 in Featured Photo of the Week | 232 comments

Vernazza – November 6, 2011

Of the five villages that make up the Italian destination known as Cinque Terre on the Ligurian coast, Vernazza demanded the most attention.  While all the towns are beautiful, and the region ranks a close second (to the Amalfi coast) on my personal favorites list, for whatever reason, most of my time was spent in the fourth town (when going from south to north).  In my opinion, the paths to and from Vernazza offer the best views and the main plaza next to the harbor provided a picturesque spot to take in the serenely festive atmosphere.

 

It was slightly off peak tourism season, so the stores and restaurants were nearly empty.  While there were tourists around, I felt that the plaza was more populated by locals who all knew each other.  There was the chef who was playfully riding around on a kid’s motorized vehicle playing music.  There was what appeared to be an off duty construction worker with his mother and daughter sitting near a wall conversing & laughing.  A local man who appeared to be an artist sat on a bench patiently waiting for his girlfriend, until a relaxed conversation began when she showed up.  Local fishermen were pushing their carts through the plaza showcasing the day’s catch to each other and to other locals.

Vernazza Harbor 01

(Please Click to Enlarge and/or View Purchase Options)

 

The setting that’s described above, along with this weeks Featured Photo (also above) was from an early May day in 2009.  I assume the setting took place for years before and years after my visit.  Unfortunately, the setting in this quaint village is now, and possibly forever, drastically different.  Though it received minimal to no media coverage in most broadcasts and publications, the area was ravaged by severe flooding and landslides on October 25.  The storms buried the town in 10+ feet of mud & debris, took the lives of locals and tourists, and even further isolated the already hard to get to village.   While other areas of Italy were hit by the storms, Vernazza is the most difficult to reach to bring supplies and equipment to clean & rebuild the town’s infrastructure.  Many locals are bracing for years of clean-up, while others think that Vernazza will never fully recover.

 

Links to videos of the destruction and additional write-ups follow the post.  Some of the links contain references to sites accepting donations, which I have not tested.

 

Video:

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid1071140276001?bckey=AQ~~%2cAAAA7SJlOCE~%2ciVyWnzeQXMl8vDJmFWlc1zqdCPDXgJWG&bctid=1241537385001

Before & After Photos:

http://www.come-to-liguria.com/wordpress/cinque-terre/cinque-terre-flood-vernazza-before-and-after-the-flood/

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=2125395

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g187822-i1121-k4908585-o10-Update_From_Vernazza-Vernazza_Cinque_Terre_Italian_Riviera.html

 

-Antuany Smith

 

232 Comments

  1. For a great in-person account of what happened from an American tourist who was there during the event, please go to the following TripAdvisor link:

    http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g187822-i1121-k4936110-Vernazza_on_October_25th_Our_Experiences-Vernazza_Cinque_Terre_Italian_Riviera.html

    Here is the 1st portion of the writer’s post:

    This is a long account on our ill-fated stay in Vernazza Italy during the heaviest rainfall ever recorded in the area on Tuesday October 25, 2011. They got 375 mm or about 15 inches of rain in about 24 hours. We arrived to join friends who had rented an apartment in Vernazza at 15 Piazza Marconi. For those who have been there, it is on the third floor above the last pizzeria nearest the water taxi dock and adjacent to the Belforte Restarant. We arrived on Sunday October 23rd and already knew that heavy rains were predicted for the 25th. Intermittent sprinkling started on the afternoon of the 24th and by late evening on the 24th it had become steadier.

    On the morning of the 25th, we awoke to the heaviest rain we have ever seen in Italy. The winds were very gusty also. The locals had pulled all of their boats out of the water but it wasn’t going to be nearly enough. There were a few breaks in the rain and I went to the Cinque Terre park offices on the train platforms and bought a few souvenirs about 12:30 p.m. I think trains were still running at this point. The street along Via Roma was wet with puddles but most of the stores had opened. Soon the rain came back harder than ever so we stayed in the apartment and watched.

    Things changed around 3:00 p.m. when suddenly we could see mud starting to flood the little piazza below. Our power went out for the last time and the flooding began to get worse and worse. By about 4:30 or 5:00 p.m. we saw what really blew our minds as several cars came tumbling into and through the piazza and into the water. We realized that these cars had to have come from the upper parking lot above town. It looked like a green van that looked like a park van we had ridden in on earlier trips had broken in two and also tumbled into the water. Eerily, most of the vehicles had their lights on even as they swirled in the water and began to sink. We didn’t see anybody inside them and prayed that the owners had gotten out in time.

    Most of the little boats were eventually dragged out into the bay and sank. At least one local was almost swept away trying to re-secure the remaining boats in the piazza. We didn’t see anyone in the water but if they had been swept through the piazza and into the bay, they would have been killed from the pounding. We knew that the main street must be in bad shape and that this was a major disaster for Vernazza.

    • Glad to read this blog! Keep it going!

    • Thank you for post!

    • Wow! Beautiful, Amazing, Picturesque! The views, the water, the architecture! Can’t say enough about this incredible location so happy you were able to experience it! We look forward to reading your next posts.

  2. Here’s a new blog, that gives updates on the slow progress Vernazza is making in cleaning up their town, more photos of the destruction, and a way to donate:

    http://savevernazza.com/?page_id=150

    • This is very sad. I just looked through my photos from my most recent trip, and the gentlemen who lost his life because of the storm (as shown in the November 12 post) was the owner of the shop I purchased some small souvenirs from. I was in his small shop for a short while (to wait out a brief stint of rain) browsing over his souvenirs and conversing with him. Of all the shops I visited, he is one of the few shop owners I remember (even 2 years later).

      • Sure, we remember you. We sat together up at the church for a while until you were able to locate the friends you were separated from in the flash flood. We were evacuated on the second boat the next morning. We sure have plenty to be thankful for this!! The pictures of the clean up in Vernazza are even worse than I thought they’d be and it’s sad to read about the loss of life. You’re right, it was an experience we will never forget!!Best wishes.

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    • Spent a lovely day in Vernazza in September 2010, eating pizza at the local tavern and enjoying gelato as we watched the boats and swimmers and took photos on the rocks with the gorgeous scenery surrounding us. We picked up small wooden toys for our granddaughers and they still play with them which brings me right back to the tiny store there. My family will be making a donation to help with the restoration of Vernazza and I will be spreading the news throughout my email and Facebook contacts. God Bless You and I will keep the people of Vernazza in my thoughts and prayers.

  4. All I can say is¦ please write more.

    • We were vacationing in Vernazza and were cueresd from the train platform by three wonderful Italian men as a propane tank exploded and two cars were swept under the platform. Frederico, a teacher who lives in Vernazza, led us to the church where he and the priest gave us sanctuary and provided us with towels, blankets and a case of water. Eventually we and the 12 people who were cueresd with us were taken to a church at the top of the town near the office of the mayor which had been set up as a relief center shared by tourists and local people as well. Local residents did all they could to provide us with liquids and snacks although many of them had lost their businesses and homes. The woman we rented our rooms from had her son lead us to her family home because we couldn’t get into our rooms. The next day we were evacuated by boat and the emergency workers and volunteers were heroic in their efforts to help us. We will never forget Vernazza and are thankful to you for providing information on how and where to send aid. We are sadden that such good people are living through such difficult times and hope and pray that some normalcy will return to the town and the people quickly.

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