Cinque Terre: Of Land and Sea
Cinque Terre, “five lands”, are five coastal towns of the Italian Riviera. Overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, the ocean is an integral part of the locals’ daily lives. The block buildings of oranges, yellows, and pinks with green shutters and hanging clothes on either side of narrow, stone streets portray a charm of a slower, communal life. Originally most easily accessible by sea and connected by a footpath, the terraced UNESCO World Heritage Site towns are now most easily connected by train; reaching Cinque Terre by car is not recommended. Italy has made the towns its first, and smallest, national park: Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre. The high number of visitors is facilitating the degradation of the environment, and Italy and other organizations are developing sustainable ecotourism strategies that balance environmental responsibility with tourism, potentially including quotas to limit the number of visitors. If one can visit when tourists are fewer, or get out onto and into the sea away from the crowds, Cinque Terre offers a solitude of terra e mare.