Update 2017: The works on the Via dell’Amore are at a complete standstill. The local city hall is waiting on national public funds to be released to pay for the extensive repair costs. It sounds like it could be a very, very long wait. *sigh*
The Via dell’Amore (Lovers’ Lane) connects the villages of Riomaggiore and Manarola and is the most famous portion of the Sentiero Azzurro (the path along the coast that connects all five villages of the Cinque Terre). The Via dell’Amore has become a world-famous landmark in its own right, and is especially popular with visitors to the area (as it’s an easy 20 minute stroll along the waterfront rather than a vigorous hike like the remainder of the Sentiero Azzurro). For locals, it has played an integral role in unifying the two villages and their residents.
A wedding party traveling from Riomaggiore to Manarola on the Via dell’Amore.
photo credit: M. Ravecca, Riomaggioresi Nel Mondo archives
Since its creation in the early 1900s, the Via dell’Amore has faced numerous periods of closure due to rock slides. Eventually, a tunnel was constructed for a portion of the path that was particularly prone to slides and steel netting was pinned to the mountainside in other areas at risk. Obviously, the unique geography of this land with its steeps cliffs and rocky terrain makes for a constant struggle to keep slides at bay despite safety measures. In September of 2012 an extensive slide closed the Via dell’Amore until present day.
The Via dell’Amore in the 60s/70s, before safety measures were instated.
photo credit: Riomaggioresi Nel Mondo archives
Regarding the Via dell’Amore’s most recent closure, here are the facts:
- September 24, 2012: A rockslide on the Via dell’Amore injures four Australian tourists, two of which are hospitalized.
photo credit: Pistelli
- From that moment, the Via dell’Amore is officially closed by local ordinance and is sequestered by the Italian Procura (prosecutor’s office) while the slide and its cause are under investigation.
- February 25, 2013: The Italian Procura releases the Via dell’Amore back to the Comune di Riomaggiore, under explicit directions that the path is not to be reopened to the public until it is messa in sicurezza (deemed safe).
- March 14, 2013: The Regione Liguria proffers €800,000 euro to help with costs for the messa in sicurezza of the Via dell’Amore. These funds were originally earmarked for a different project in our territory.
- April 18, 2013: Riomaggiore’s mayor as well as numerous experts in geological hazards perform their first official inspection of the Via dell’Amore.
- April 22, 2013: After the inspection, the Comune di Riomaggiore proposes that an extensive study be conducted by geologists and other professionals in the sector, detailing the current state of the path (and the terrain both above and below it) and what operations will be required in order to make the Via dell’Amore safe. This is the beginning of a long and arduous process (and paper trail).
- September 26, 2014: An accord is signed between the Comune di Riomaggiore, Regione Liguria and the Rete Ferroviaria Italiana (the Italian railway) to authorize work on the portion of the Via dell’Amore directly above the Manarola railway station.
- January 13, 2015: Work on the portion of the Via dell’Amore above the railway station in Manarola begins. Works for this phase will extend from the railway station in Manarola to the Bar Via dell’Amore (circa 200 meters).
- April 3, 2015: Inauguration for the reopening of the first 200 meters of the Via dell’Amore (from the Manarola railway station to the Bar Via dell’Amore).
- April 3, 2015: The Regione di Liguria issues a press release pledging 1.5 million euro towards the Via dell’Amore project and promises another portion of the path will reopen before the end of 2015.
photo credit: Comune di Riomaggiore
Due to miles and miles of bureaucratic red tape and the slow motion grindings of Italy, the future of the Via dell’Amore at the moment looks grim. The best case scenario for 2015 is that the portion of the Via dell’Amore between the Manarola railway station and the Bar Via dell’Amore will reopen. As this is just one portion of the path (experts have divided the work into a total of seven sections based on geological surveys), you can probably imagine just how long the works on the Via dell’Amore will take to conclude.
photo credit: G. Pecunia, Riomaggioresi Nel Mondo archives
For locals, the Via dell’Amore is more than just a touristic attraction; it’s the lifeline between two medieval villages. It’s a place for elderly residents to sit in the sun and reminisce with one another. It’s a place for young families to take their little ones on their first walks. The closure of the Via dell’Amore is much more than just an inconvenience to visitors to our area, it’s the denial of a legacy to locals. As can be imagined, villagers are feeling very disheartened and upset. It’s in everyone’s interest to reopen the historic path as soon as possible. The question remains, will it happen?
photo credit: Riomaggioresi Nel Mondo archives
Want to know a little more about the history of the Via dell’Amore? Check out this article published on the Smithsonian website, penned by Rick Steves.
Want to follow the progress of the Via dell’Amore on the official Comune di Riomaggiore website? Brushing up on your Italian beforehand is recommended: Situazione Via Dell’Amore
Want to see my most recent post on the Via dell’Amore? Click here.