Storm warning in effect for September 9, 2017

UPDATE, 3:30pm: The storm warning has been extended to 7am tomorrow morning (September 10, 2017) and in zones D, B and E has been updated to a red (level 4) alert. The Cinque Terre and surrounding areas remain under an orange (level 3) alert. 
Original text

An orange (level 3) storm warning is in effect for today, September 9, 2017.

Our entire region (Liguria) is on an orange alert. More specifically, the Cinque Terre villages are on a level orange alert from 5pm to 12 midnight on Saturday, September 9, 2017.

Meteorologists are expecting storms with heavy precipitation, thunder and lightning, strong winds and rough seas


Just to be clear, this is the key for the color coded storm warnings:
RISK FACTOR
Green = Slim to none 
Yellow = Slight danger
Orange = Dangerous
Red = Extremely dangerous 
What does this mean for visitors to the Cinque Terre?

  • All hiking trails within the Cinque Terre National Park will be officially closed during the storm warning.
  • In case of torrential downpour, stay away from low-lying areas or potential flood zones. 
  • In case of rough seas, stay away from the water’s edge. 
  • Use prudence. 

For more information and updates on the alert you can consult (in Italian):

Allerta Liguria

It sounds like today will be a good day to curl up and read a book or catch up on your postcard writing. 

Take care,

Amy 

Village spotlight: CORNIGLIA

Corniglia (pronounced core-neel-ee-uh) is the smallest of the Cinque Terre villages and arguably the most underrated (as it is oftentimes overshadowed by its larger and easier to reach neighbors).

IMG_3204

If you are a numbers person, Corniglia is considered the third village in the Cinque Terre (from either direction).

There are a few things that set Corniglia apart from its more popular neighbors:

  • Its location off the sea.

Unlike the other four villages, Corniglia sits on a mountaintop reigning over the sea.  When you reach the Corniglia train station you’ll find that you still have to climb 382 stairs (yes, 382, I’ve counted them myself!) to reach the village center.

The fact that it takes a bit of effort to reach the village tends to weed out visitors that can’t be bothered (which is a BIG plus in my opinion).  Little do these people know, you can actually “cheat” and take a bus up the hill to the village.

Despite that, I still prefer to take the stairs (probably because of my next point). 

  • It has my *favorite* gelateria in all of the Cinque Terre.   

 

You can get traditional homemade gelato in a plethora of flavors all throughout the Cinque Terre.  And to be honest, it’s all pretty delicious.  But in how many places can you get gelato al basilico, made with fresh basil from the owner’s garden?  Or, gelato al miele made with the honey harvested from local Corniglia bees?  Yeah, I didn’t think so.  This place is unico.  What better way to treat yourself after climbing all of those stairs? 

  

  • Most consider Corniglia to be the only Cinque Terre village without access to the sea, which isn’t exactly true.  

They have this lovely little cove where you can swim off the rocks (granted you’ll have to hoof it up and down the hill but you didn’t come to the Cinque Terre to be sedentary, right?).

There’s also a famous/infamous nude beach called Guvano hidden beneath Corniglia (but you’ll need a boat to reach it).

  • Locals are so nice here.  

IMG_3116

While sitting at a tiny café I witnessed a foreign couple ask the barista to place a slice of savory cheese in a sweet croissant (I must be turning Italian as I winced simply at the thought!).  The barista didn’t bat an eye and accommodated their request with a smile.  I must admit, I was really impressed.

  •   It’s less commercial.  

You won’t find hotels here, just a scattering of affittacamere (room rentals).  It’s quaint and personable and you’ll feel like you’re staying amongst the locals.

  • It’s quiet when the sun goes down.

IMG_3095

And heck, it’s pretty quiet during the day, too.  If R&R is your scope and you like to turn in early, Corniglia could very well be your own little piece of paradise.

IMG_3021


My personal recommendations in Corniglia


Gelato:

Gelateria Alberto, via Fieschi (you can’t miss it!)  

A quick coffee or aperitivo:

Bar Pan e Vin, via Fieschi 123 (this place is tiny and gets cramped quickly… grab a coffee and sit on the bench outside to people watch)

Accommodations:

Affittacamere da Cristiana is family-run with love and care by friendly Cristiana and Stefano (they also run the bar listed above)

IMG_3040

Corte del Gallo offers a convenient location (an easy and quick walk from the Corniglia train station), beautiful views and comfortable accommodations.  Owners Roberto and Claudia are lovely, lovely people that I had the pleasure to meet when Roberto so kindly volunteered to be Babbo Natale (Santa Claus) for my son’s preschool.  Their stellar reviews just go to show what lovely hosts and people they are! Contact them directly at info@cortedelgallo.com 

Déjà vu: Here we go again…

image

*sigh*

We are, once again, on a level 2 storm warning.  ARPAL (which stands for “Agenzia Regionale per la Protezione dell’Ambiente Ligure“) currently has two levels of alert:  level 1 (think of it as a yellow “proceed with caution” light) and level 2 (the highest level of alert, a so-called red light where everything comes to a grinding halt).  We’ve had multiple back-to-back alerts in just this past month.

Alert in Liguria

Trails throughout the Cinque Terre are currently closed.  All local schools have been cancelled.  Our day-to-day lives are obviously interrupted.  This is starting to feel like a throwback to Aesop’s Fable, “The Boy That Cried Wolf.”  Yes, we are in an area that is extremely prone to hydrogeological hazards (we know this all too well, especially considering the disastrous 2011 flooding).  But does that mean that every single time a storm comes through we need to go into a state of alert?  From a psychological standpoint, it’s unnerving (to say the least).

As we all know, there are always two sides to every coin.  OF COURSE, we’d rather be safe than sorry.  OF COURSE, we don’t want to put our loved ones (or anyone else, for that matter) at risk.  I think the reasoning behind the abundance of alerts in the past few weeks stems from recent lawsuits involving mayors and public officials (in other cities in Italy that have suffered from flooding or other natural disasters). These public officials are being held responsible for deaths due to unheeded weather alerts.  It’s yet to be seen whether they’ll actually be found guilty, but in the meantime I’d say it’s enough to have most mayors and public officials shaking in their boots.  The easy way for local city governments to wash their hands of the responsibility is to declare a state of alert whenever ARPAL sounds the alarm.  As soon as that happens, emergency measures go into effect (including closing the schools, trails, etc.).  The obvious flip side to having so many alerts is that the local population becomes desensitized and indifferent to them, thus undermining the whole point of the alerts to begin with.

Cinque Terre back on alert

***UPDATE***  The level 2 alert has been extended until 3pm today.  We’ve had lots of rain and gusty winds but as far as the Cinque Terre is concerned so far, so good.  However, the storm has caused extensive flooding just to the south of us in Marina di Carrara.  Fingers crossed that the alert is soon lifted and that we can go back to life as normal.

Rough seas and stormy skies in Riomaggiore on November 4, 2014

Rough seas and stormy skies in Riomaggiore on November 4, 2014

The Cinque Terre is back on a level 2 storm warning starting tonight at 9pm until tomorrow (November 5th) at midnight.  Precautionary measures such as closure of local schools as well as the hiking trails throughout the Cinque Terre National Park will be in effect.

image

Mother Nature has Cinque Terre on edge

Rough seas, cloudy skies in Cinque Terre

The memory of the devastating October 25, 2011 alluvione (flood) that affected Vernazza and Monterosso is still very fresh in the minds of Cinque Terre villagers. If you don’t have a clue as to what I’m talking about just search YouTube; the videos are terrifying.

Liguria, the region in which the Cinque Terre villages are located, is infamous for hydrogeological hazards and catastrophes. In the past two days Genoa (our region’s principal city) has been pummeled by unrelenting rain which has led to extensive flooding, property damage and loss of life.

The Cinque Terre villages, as well as the surrounding areas, have been placed on a level 2 alert up until midnight on Monday. As a precautionary measure, all local schools have been cancelled for Monday.

I would be lying if I said we aren’t all feeling a little nervous, and the fact that we are so close to the anniversary of the previous flood doesn’t help. I think we will all breathe a little easier once the alert is repealed on Monday.

If you are currently in the Cinque Terre my advice is to stay indoors during stormy weather and to avoid low-lying areas in case of torrential rains. When in doubt, make your way to higher ground.

Hopefully this will all be a false alarm but as we’ve learned from the past, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Local specialties in the Cinque Terre

One of my favorite things about Italy is that every single region has its own specialty foods on the menu.  If you’re traveling all the way to Italy, you’ll want to try the foods that are unique to each area you’ll be visiting.  I don’t recommend asking for a bistecca alla fiorentina if you’re in Rome or pasta alla carbonara if you’re in Venice (as you’re likely to get some eyerolls).  Do your homework and have an idea in advance as to what each area offers as its culinary specialties (you definitely don’t want to miss out on something unique and special!)

So, you may be wondering, what are the local specialties in the Cinque Terre?

  • FOCACCIA

image

While focaccia has become quite international, Liguria (the region in which the Cinque Terre villages are located) is its true birthplace.  Even within Liguria recipes for focaccia vary.  For example, in Genoa focaccia is lighter and more bread-like, in Recco it’s very thin and filled with stracchino (a soft, mild cheese) and in the Cinque Terre our version tends to be more Spezzino (similar to that made in the nearby city of La Spezia).  Whichever way you find it, it’s pretty delicious.  There’s a plethora of topping options so you could potentially eat focaccia each day you’re here and still not tire of it!

  • PESTO

fresh Ligurian pesto

Our region also boasts pesto as its own creation.  Something about this concoction made from fresh basil, pine nuts, garlic, parmigiano, pecorino cheese, olive oil and salt is incredibly addictive.  When others aren’t looking, I secretly use fresh pesto as a dip on bread (shhhhhhh!).  You’ll find fresh pesto sold by weight (by the way, there’s no comparison between fresh pesto and what you’ll find in a jar) in many of the local alimentari (small grocery markets) or you’ll find it served in just about every restaurant or trattoria in our area.  Pesto is usually paired with trofie (characteristic pasta from this area, they look like little twists and are served al dente) or trenette (which look similar to spaghetti).  Don’t be surprised if your pasta al pesto is served with potatoes and/or green beans, it’s actually how most locals eat it!

  • FRESH SEAFOOD & (in particular) ANCHOVIES

1913

We are located directly on the sea, so it should come as no surprise that seafood is a local specialty.  Don’t shy away from the acciughe (anchovies) just because the word makes you think of the tin can version.  Anchovies from the Cinque Terre (and in particular, from Monterosso) are famous throughout Italy.  You’ll find anchovies in just about every variation imaginable here:  stuffed, fried, cured in lemon and olive oil, salted and more.  One of the most popular versions is fried and served in a cono d’asporto (a handy take-away cone, it’s street food at its finest!).  Other local seafood specialties include  muscoli ripieni (stuffed mussels), calimari, branzino (sea bass), and orata (sea ​​bream), just to name a few.

  • FARINATA

image

A savory local specialty made from chickpea (a.k.a. garbanzo bean) flour, water, salt and olive oil.  You’ll find farinata sold in the little focaccia places throughout the Cinque Terre.  It’s thin and almost crepe-like and while you can eat it plain (do ask for it to be warmed up if it’s not hot out of the oven) you can also find it with toppings.  You’ll see most Italians ordering it with either onion or stracchino cheese but some places have become inventive and will offer it slathered in pesto or with other toppings.  For some people farinata is an acquired taste.  For me, it was love at first bite.

  • LIMONCINO

image

This is a popular digestive with locals and once you’re here and see the gorgeous lemons that grow year round you’ll understand why.  The ingredients are simple:  fresh lemon peel (from local lemons), pure alcohol, water and sugar.  Many locals make their own (for their own family & friends to drink) but you can purchase a bottle at many of the shops or simply have a glass after dinner at any restaurant or bar.

  • CINQUE TERRE D.O.C. WHITE WINE

image

The Cinque Terre is famous for its dry white wine.  The grapes used to make the local wine are harvested from the vineyards clinging to the cliffs throughout the Cinque Terre (I recommend going on a hike through the vineyards so that you can really appreciate all the hard work that goes into cultivating the grapes here!).  In order to guarantee the authenticity of the origin of the grapes, the D.O.C. symbol (denominazione di origine controllata) should be present on the bottle (that way you know you’re actually drinking the real deal and not just table wine from who knows where).  The Cinque Terre is not famous for reds and only in recent years have a few vintners started to offer a Cinque Terre red wine (but this is simply a table wine without the D.O.C. symbol).

  • CINQUE TERRE SCIACCHETRA’

image

This is the scarce, prestigious and pricey dessert wine made from partially dried Cinque Terre D.O.C. grapes.  The large quantity of grapes required to make just one bottle of sciacchetrà helps explain the hefty price tag.  This sweet wine is the pride and joy of locals.  If you are offered a glass (or bottle) you should feel very, very flattered!

As we say in Italy, buon apetito!

-Cinque Terre Insider