The last week of October was a difficult one for Liguria. Super strong winds gusting at 180km per hour (circa 110 miles per hour), pounding rain and rough seas with 8 meter swells (that’s a little over 24 feet) all took turns pummeling our region. Mother Nature not so subtly reminded us that she is a force to be reckoned with.
For those who don’t know, Liguria is the thin, crescent-shaped region that spans the coast in NW Italy between Tuscany and France. Many refer to the region as the Italian Rivieria; I just think of it as home. The Cinque Terre villages are located on the seafront of the easternmost portion of Liguria.
Storm warnings preceded the storm and resulted in closed schools and businesses and in some cases evacuations. These warnings came just days after the seven year anniversary of the 2011 floods that devastated Vernazza, Monterosso and neighboring Val di Vara (and resulted in 13 fatalities). To say locals were left feeling jittery and nervous about the impending storm is an understatement.
Once the storm hit, power and phone outages were widespread. Despite the scare (it was quite terrifying to witness), the Cinque Terre villages were spared with minimal damage and no serious injuries or casualties. Other nearby areas in Liguria (like Portofino, Santa Margherita, and Rapallo) weren’t as fortunate and experienced moderate to extensive damage (especially along their seafronts where tsunami-like waves toppled breakwaters and wreaked havoc).
What this means for travelers coming to the Cinque Terre in the upcoming days & weeks
These first few weeks post-storm will entail general cleanup and repairs. There are currently no long-term issues that will affect visitors coming to the Cinque Terre later this year or in 2019. However, for those planning to visit the Cinque Terre in the next week or two keep in mind that:
- All hiking trails are officially closed. With the ground saturated in an area already prone to slides, trails will not reopen until they have been cleared of fallen trees and debris and verified to be safe for passage. You can check current trail status here.
- Due to a portion of the rock cliff breaking off above the tunnel that connects the two sides of Monterosso, day trippers are not currently permitted to walk between the train station and historical center of Monterosso. If you’ve booked accommodations in Monterosso, don’t despair. Those actually staying in the village (along with the village’s residents and workers) have a “golden ticket” to pass (max. 10 people at a time accompanied by the Protezione Civile). It is expected to take two weeks to properly remove and dispose of the 50 ton boulder that detached from the cliff and for traffic to resume as normal. For those adamant to see Monterosso, it’s possible to catch an ATC bus that will shuttle people between the two sides of the village (between the hours of 7am and 10:30pm). While by no means convenient, it is a possibility.
- Rethink your visit to Portofino. Were you planning to make a day trip to this chic village? Unless you are arriving by yacht or boat (in which case, lucky you!), you’re best off nixing Portofino from your itinerary until the road has been reconstructed (at the moment, that date is still TBD).