Cinque Terre Floods: Disaster Relief

November 3, 2011 / Local Interest
Just one week ago Vernazza and Monterosso of the Cinque Terre along with several lesser known villages were devastated by massive flooding and mudslides. The region had been experiencing tremendous rainfall but no one expected such destructive results.

At the present time the railway has been cleared, the river has been re-directed to its original route, some electricity has been restored and heavy machinery has been helping to clear the mud, rock and debris. Everyone has rolled up their sleeves and come together as a community. Unfortunately the sad stories are also surfacing. I have read of merchants barely escaping to the second level of their building, only to watch a fellow storekeeper unable to cling any longer to his awning be washed away. There are currently 9 people dead (not all from the Cinque Terre) and several still missing.

The heroic stories are out there as well. Stories of tourists being plucked from the muddy river just in time. Of the owners at Il Castello opening up to shelter those without. Of the evacuation of the elderly and young. Of locals helping tourists as if they were family.

How I love Vernazza. How I love when humanity rises up when life has lashed out.

I have been watching the video footage and photos as the people come together to clean up and rebuild the area. Vernazza has held such a special place in my life, my family’s life and my daughter’s life. Passively watching these events unfold has been difficult for me. Instinctively I want to reach out. Many of you have been asking ‘How can I help?’

  • The Italian Red Cross is a good choice for those wanting to help the entire region effected.
  • If you would like to volunteer contact the Protezione Civile at +39 0187.69.51.81. Lots of help is needed, but keep in mind there are no accommodations in the area as open rooms are housing those who have lost their homes. Boats depart from both La Spezia and Levanto every morning to bring people to the Cinque Terre.
  • For those of you wanting to help Vernazza directly there is currently a relief fund set up by the Commune of Vernazza. It is a non-profit, cultural organization set-up for and by the community of Vernazza, called Per Vernazza Futura (For Vernazza’s Future). Funds will help the people effected by the flood and landslide as well as being used for the reconstruction of the town and surrounding environment.
  • Another fund should be available within the next few days as well. This site has been founded by several ex-pats who share a great love of Vernazza. They also are committed to keeping money donated within Vernazza. Please check back for updates. They are called Save Vernazza and can also be found on Facebook.

I have read comments from a few people saying that Vernazza is a wealthy community and will overcome this disaster; they should be able to recover within a year or two. They have said that we should not give our time and money when there is greater suffering with fewer resources in the world. It is true that suffering and heartache happen around the world everyday. No one is ever immune. But who is to say that one persons suffering is worse than another’s? Pain is pain, no matter what form. I hope that my connection to this amazing place will in some small way help them to rise above and meet their challenge with success, strength and support.

I call out to everyone that has ever been touched by Vernazza.

Go Back. Don’t write them off.

To those that have always wanted to visit. Do Not Change Your Plans. Put Vernazza back on your itinerary!

We must not only help them with their immediate needs, but help them recover for the long-term. Let us fill their rooms and crowd their restaurants again. We are all instrumental to Vernazza’s future.

– 1st and 2nd photo courtesy of Arbaspaa and Giuliano Pucci respectively.

– Kindly contributed by Andi Brown, self-styled “travel junkie and Italy addict”. Andi has created an amazing Italian travel planning business where she helps design custom vacations for her clients, and blogs about it all here.

28 Responses to “Cinque Terre Floods: Disaster Relief”

  1. Ann Waggoner

    Tha Cinque Terra area is one ot the natural treasures of Italy and the disaster that accurred a week ago was heart wrending. Hopefully your well written plea for people to open their hearts and pockets to help the stricken inhabitants of Vernazza will be effective.

  2. sue gaughan

    Thank you for an honest and touching account of the events in Vernazza and the area! I spent a week in Vernazza and it was heaven!

  3. Monterosso – situation dire
    Thank you so much for “italian Notebook” . I know Vernazza is devastated.

    Please do not forget Monterosso. They have lost as much and are desperately and bravely trying to save what is left before the rains come this week.

    This is my daughter’s eyewitness account of what is happening in Monterosso al Mare.

    Sandrou Usai, the one fatality in Monterosso died rescuing two American tourists. He made sure the two women were safely out of harm’s way but ran out of time to save himself.

    Please tell their story.

    Best regards,
    Jo Ann

  4. giuseppe spano (jojo)
    giuseppe spano (jojo)

    so sad when these things happen to any, and more so when it is of our own, with appreciation for your heartfelt encouragement to support our people reflecting your love for mankind and Italia

  5. Linda Boccia

    Having reluctantly just returned from 6 months in Italy we also were in the Cinque Terre in late August for 4 days. It was unimaginable as we saw the news coverages of the devastation on Italian TV. Truly the best thing all of us could do is support all of the Cinque Terre with either monetary contributions to Vernazza and Monterossa, but equally important to return and support them financially by filling restaurants and hotels.

  6. We have visited and will return. We wish we could be there right now to assist. We pray for all and especially for our friends in Monterosso.

  7. Anne Robichaud

    Glad you wrote about the article> it needed to be written.]
    I agree: best thing we can do is support tourism in the Cinque Terre-
    Residents are now preparing for a deluge this week/end – all mayors have ordered total evacuation.
    Mayors of most towns will stay behind with a few volunteers and no one else will be allowed to stay.\Whew.
    Mamma mia

  8. Richard Smith

    Our hearts go out to Vernazza and Monterosso and their people. We try to go there every year and will,hopefully, go back. Thank you for the updated info on where we can make donations. We want to donate locally as unfortunately Italy has a somewhat spotty history for insuring that funds donated for disasters acutally get to the most needy folks, not wishing to impune anyone but history is history – so again thank you for the local points of contact.

  9. M. Silvestri-Oetinger

    Our hearts go out to Monterosso and Vernazza. We were just there in May. Italy is the home of my ancestors and I feel is my home too. We will continue to pray for them . Michelle and Tom Oetinger

  10. Michelle Vaden

    Thank you for your heart-felt plea.
    I am totally appalled at the people who think this is a rich area and we don’t need to help. I am also appalled that there has been nothing about this on the evening news here in the US. Perhaps because it won’t affect the economy here??? I have no clue as to why it hasn’t been on the news here.
    My love and prayers to everyone affected.

  11. Richard Smith

    It was Mentioned in the news albeit briefly and wrapped up with the floods in Tuscany.
    That’s how we heard about it originally.

  12. I agree — it IS appalling there has been practically non-existent news coverage here in the US of this tragedy. I am forwarding this post to friends who always have Vernazza in their hearts and its sand between their toes as often as possible. I know they will want to donate, as will I.

  13. Rosemary

    My thoughts are with the people of this area. How heartbreaking! We stayed in Monterosso al Mare on a vacation years ago and loved walking from village to village. I wondered how I missed the coverage of this devastating event and only learned of it through a facebook friend in Italy. Unfortunately, news coverage of world events don’t always make it onto our newscasts, too preoccupied with a lot of nonsense and only looking inward. One of the reasons we wanted to live in another country (and spent two years in Italy). Thank you for focusing Italiannotebook on this tragedy.

  14. Jen and Mike

    We are 2 Aussie who spent Easter this year (2011) on the Cinque Terre. We had a wonderful time in Vernazza. Meet, ate and stayed with the Sicilian Pirate, eating canaloni. Then went up to Monterosso al Mare for 3 days and celebrated Easter Sunday there. Fell in love with the town and the people and are going back in August 2012. This time for a longer stay. As others say, it is heartbreaking to see the devastation. BUT if the Italians are anything like us Australian from Tamborine in South East Queensland we see that we can come back even strong after such devastation.

  15. I want to add a thank you to all the readers as well. Late last night I read the many responses as was touched by them as I know the people of Vernarzza will be. Many of you are committed to continue with your plans for travel to the area to support their tourism, their life line. Heartfelt appreciation to those that have or will donate for the immediate situation. I have begun to collect information regarding the other areas, we do not want them left out in our efforts. Warmest regards to all!! Andi

  16. Shannon Ryan

    thank you for posting all of the ways we can donate to the relief fund. I have a trip pending to Europe that I will gladly route toward Cinque Terre. It won’t be until Februrary 2012, but I imagine they will still be able to use the help then. What are some of the volunteer organizations that are assisting in clean up/rebuidling at this time?

    Also, do you happen to have the status on the other villages besides Vernazza and Monterosso?

  17. Anne Robichaud

    A horror: watching evening news. 7 pm Nov 4, 2011. Genoa flooded. 7 dead.

    Cinque Terre towns all evacuated…in preparation for week/end:.
    expecting 3 days of intense rain. Appears it is not over yet.

    We are concerned now for friends in Camogli, on sea near Genoa

  18. The Cinque Terre is one of my favorite places in the world and it is heartbreaking to see the devastation there. There is quite a bit of info about the tragedy on Rick Steves’ website. Shannon, it’s my understanding that Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore are OK but the people in Monterosso and Vernazza desperately need our financial support and tourism dollars.

  19. Kevin Mc Murray

    I didnt believe my friend when he told me about this sad news! And I cant believe what I seen in videos… I have been there last month of may. The best place I have seen of my life. Im from Canada. I would like to go there and help but its too far. But for sure I will contribute and give some money for this wonderful place. I hope all tourist who visited this paradise will do the same.

  20. rio david

    the livelihood of the residents in jeopardy as they save the tourists. Italians always give and provide and we can do the same for them. these five cities are the treasure of italia. pace e bene.

  21. Clarissa Lassig

    My sister and I traveled to Europe for three weeks this August and went to Cinque Terre on a whim since we were close by and had two days before coming back to the U.S. we could not believe our luck when we arrived. Those five small villages stole our hearts instantly. We hiked along the Trail of love as well as all along the coastline from city to city. We ended up staying in Vernazza in a quaint little hotel overlooking the plaza with an amazing back patio view of the Mediterranean. I am devastated by this news. My heart goes out to the sweet people who live there and who were SO extremely kind and open to my sister and I.

  22. Greg Olson

    We travelled in early September on a small group tour through Europe with the company ALONG SCENIC ROUTES. Our tour spent 3 days in Cinque Terre and we spent a lot of time in Vernazza during that time. It was one of the many highlights of the trip.
    The tour company we traelled with sent us and others who were the tour news of the disaster accompanied by pictures and links. We have seen the videos and pictures of the disaster and compare them with our pictures from our vacation, unbelievable.
    We thoroughly enjoyed the tour we took and plan to take a similar tour and return to Cinque Terre to help their economy.

  23. A number of questions have come my way regarding the status of businesses and the Cinque Terre national trails. I have a report from Fausto and Mariapia owners of the B&B Giardino Incantato ( they will be rebuilt and open by Easter. At this point I am unaware of a central web site for the trails or other businesses. Perhaps this is an important topic for ItalianNotebook that will help travelers and planners.

    Joel Patience


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