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Archive for April, 2012

Featured Photo | Wine Cellar

wine cellar

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Copyright 2012   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

Cinque Terre, Monterosso | Six Months After the Flood

Miracle.

That is what Monterosso is being called, and for good reason.  In just six months the town and its people have dug themselves out of the mud, repaired the town’s damaged utility services and reopened in time for the upcoming tourist season.  A miraculous feat that is to be applauded.

Courtesy of Rebuild Monterosso

On October 25th of last year, I found a photo of Monterosso posted on Facebook.  This picture wasn’t of pastel buildings against a backdrop of crystal blue waters; there were no smiling faces.  Glaring back at me was a pile of debris grotesquely wrapped around buildings and filling the streets.

Devastated.

If those photographs brought me to tears, how much more wounded were the people of Monterosso?  It felt inconceivable.  Destroyed.  Ruined beyond repair.  Abandon.  Disastro.  These words flew around the internet during those first days and weeks.  What was to happen?  Who would help?  Where would the money be found?

Overwhelmed.

Courtesy of Rebuild Monterosso

Where do you start when so much has been lost?  The people along with emergency workers began by simply putting one foot in front of the other.  Rebuild Monterosso was formed to bring attention to the situation and raise money for restoration.  Slowly, the town and the spirit of the people were raised from the mud and muck.

Appreciation.

A realization was made as the work continued.  Monterosso was more than a tourist destination.  This was a place of history, traditional products, hidden trails and a tenacious spirit.  Awareness grew, especially with the young, that this was an opportunity to not just repair but improve and protect the uniqueness of the town and the traditions of the past.  The people were at a crossroad and they chose to strengthen the character, deepen the traditions and refuse to lose their identity among the crowds of visitors.

Tireless.

Courtesy of Rebuild Monterosso

A goal was made, the town vowed to be open and ready for the tourist season by Easter.  This was a bold, almost reckless decision as the date was less than six months after the flooding.  The to do list remained daunting as the days drew closer.  Vacations were abandoned and there was no down time to rest.  The people did not waver.  Determined, they worked day and night to make good on their promise.  Tirelessly and without thought of themselves they succeeded.

Faith.

Now the people of Monterosso wait for us.  For the shops and restaurants to fill with visitors.  For people to drag their luggage off the trains and down the cobblestone streets.  The attitude of the town is one of amazing optimism.  The kind that can only be found in people who had the courage to lift themselves up off the muddy ground, to press forward past the fear and the unknown.  People that rekindled their pride and their faith in each other and in their village.  People that accomplished the impossible.

The people of Monterosso.

Courtesy of Rebuild Monterosso

Disaster Relief Information can be found here at Rebuild Monterosso.  Help is still needed!

For more information on the current situation, these two blogs are an excellent insight:

Little Paradiso and Life in Liguria

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Copyright 2012   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

How you can make a difference for Monterosso and Vernazza

Besides traveling to Monterosso and Vernazza or donating directly to their relief organizations, here are some simple but powerful ways to make a difference.

Play2Raise – pledges a donation in the amount of 5% to 20% on ALL items purchased through the Play2Raise website that designate “Save Vernazza” as the charity of choice.  (United States shipping only, please).

Carole Mayne Fine Art - She has this beautiful painting ‘Raining Prayers’ for sale and will be donating 50%.

Carole Mayne

Thomasina Burke – Author of The Magic Bridge has kindly vowed to donate 20% from the sales of her book to Save Vernazza.  See my review here.

Andrew Handrick - musician and business owner in Vernazza is donating 70% of the sales from is album ‘Five Steps Instrumental CD’ to Save Vernazza.

Michael DeCesaris – New online designer apparel store called Urban 84 based out of Maryland, USA is donating $1.00 of every sale to Save Vernazza.

Gregory Berg of Enso Photography -  If you buy a Vernazza print from his online gallery, he will donate 100% of the proceeds to Save Vernazza.

French Palette -  Another artist who is a supporter of the relief efforts in both towns.  Check her facebook page for her most current offering.

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Copyright 2012   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

Cinque Terre Travelers Information

These fantastic and informative links are courtesy of Save Vernazza and are the most up to date and current info out there.

Trail Closures

Status of Accommodations/Shops/Restaurants 

Trains - Trains are open and operating normally.

Support Vernazza and Monterosso through travel! 

Cinque Terre, Vernazza Flood Update | Six Months Later

Cinque Terre Piazza MacaroniMen sunning themselves in Piazza Macaroni.  Silverware softly clinking against china plates.  Sweet salty smell of spring along the ocean.

For a moment you might forget what happened here in Vernazza six months ago.

But just for a moment.

Many of the people of Vernazza have returned home.  Four of the restaurants are open with many shops along the main street soon to follow.  A long list of accommodations are ready for reservations.  The trains are running; the trails are being repaired.  Some tourists have arrived, a few unaware of the disaster in late October.

For a moment you might forget.

The damage of the flooding can be seen in the harbor and around town.  The obvious places that had been touched and changed.  The more subtle signs can be found in the residents of Vernazza, people not used to idle hands.  People uncertain during this time of silence.  People who have been touched and changed.

For a moment may they forget.

cinque terreForget the torrential rain that unleashed 20 inches of water in 4 hours, triggering 7 million cubic feet of debris and mud to flood the valley and bury the town.  Forget the homes, stores and cellars filled to the second story.  The horror of the town’s gas tank, punctured and spewing gas, careening through main street.  The indescribable fear as families, friends and travelers became divided by the rising waters.  The parents of a neighboring town forced to spend an entire night without knowing if their trapped children had survived.   Forget the frantic escapes through ventilation windows and through holes broken in walls.  Forget the sadness as the waters claim three of Vernazza’s own.  The evacuation.  Displaced and relocated, some of the older residents leaving their homes for the first time.

cinque terre

For a moment may they remember.

Heroic and selfless acts that resulted in many lives saved.  Remember the young who rallied and returned to make Vernazza their own.  The prayers and kind words from strangers around the world.  The support from unexpected places and people.  Color created in unthinkable places.

artists for vernazza

My heart breaks to think despair may settle upon these people.

The soul of Vernazza is not in the buildings or the canal or the trails.  It’s soul is found in the smiles of the children, the tenacity of the old-timers and the resilience of the people.  The spirit is found in the making of sciacchetra; seen in the dry stone walls that terrace the hills.  Life has always been challenging in Vernazza, but never defeating.

cinque terre

For a moment we must remember.

As travelers, we are powerful and we are essential.  These families will not survive as they wait for business to return.  They need us, need our business and the hope that we bring.  No travel plans for 2012?  I challenge you, along with Rick Steves, to donate the money you would normally spend in one day to the relief groups below.  I also ask that you take the time to pass this message on, show Vernazza you care.

Looking forward, remembering where we came from.  For a moment may you feel hope return Vernazza.

Disaster Relief Information:

  • Save Vernazza a non-profit organized by American ex-pats in Italy who I work closely with.

  • Per Vernazza Futura  a non-profit fund set up by the municipality of Vernazza
  • Don’t forget Monterosso, also horribly damaged in the flooding.  They have set up a municipal relief fund called Rebuild Monterosso

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Copyright 2012   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

Vernazza Video | Six Months After Flooding

Please pass this forward as a reminder that there is still much to do to restore Vernazza.

Looking forward, remembering where we came from.

Click here for link to video

I’m obsessed with feedback, let me know what you think.

Love it??  Pass it on!

Copyright 2012   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

Featured Photo Friday | Fiddler in Rome

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Copyright 2012   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

Rome Italy Travel Sites

Here are a few fun sites I have found to waste away on a Sunday.  I little of everything can be found below.

What to Eat in Rome - Who doesn’t love a good food blog??

Dark Rome Blog - Several articles about places to see, things to do in Rome.

An American in Rome - I great blog with photos documenting life in Italy from a California girl’s perspective.

The Pines of Rome - Another American who has made her home in Rome.  She has a helpful section listing exhibits currently on display.

I’m obsessed with feedback, let me know what you think.

Love it??  Pass it on!

Copyright 2012   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

FREE Audio Walking Tours For Italy

Everyone loves a good deal.

Rome ItalyHere is my pick for best deal of the summer!  Rick Steves has a comprehensive collection of FREE audio walking tours which I highly recommend.  Many places like Pompeii have poor guides and so-so information available to travelers.  With these guides you are saving money and learning a ton while being entertained.

I do still highly value my personal guides in areas like the Vatican and the Roman Forum.  In areas like these you really need someone to help make the site come to life.  I am a devout follower of Angel Tours Rome and send all of my clients, my friends and even my mother to these amazing people.  They offer both group and private tours, each worth every single penny.  Make sure to tell Sean and Tatjana that I sent you!

I’m obsessed with feedback, let me know what you think.

Love it??  Pass it on!

Copyright 2012   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

Featured Photo Friday | Colorful Houses of Burano, Venice

Burano

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Copyright 2012   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

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