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Posts from the ‘Vernazza Flood’ Category

Vernazza One Year After The Flood

Courtesy of Students for the Cinque Terre

Just over one year ago a massive flood and mudslide buried one of my special places on earth, Vernazza.  So much has been endured, rebuilt, rethought and rejoiced.

As fate and nature would have it, on the very day an Alert 2 went out to the people of the Cinque Terre but thankful everyone in the area weathered the storm well.

Much is still to be done.  Please keep Save Vernazza in your minds as we move towards the close of this year.

Below is a link to some fabulous people who have been a part of the recovery process as they celebrate Vernazza’s bittersweet anniversary.

Students for the Cinque Terre Commemoration.

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Copyright 2012   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

Save Vernazza Newsletter | Cinque Terre Update

I wanted to share a link to Save Vernazza’s newsletter that they have just developed.  This is a great way to stay connected, hear about projects and discover small ways you can help.  My understanding is that this will come out monthly.

For anyone interested in viewing the newsletter, CLICK HERE.

Be sure to follow the link to join the mailing list on the upper left corner!

I will leave you with some very uplifting photos from Vernazza.

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Copyright 2012   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel


Cinque Terre, Monterosso | Six Months After the Flood


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.


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?


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.


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.


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.


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

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Copyright 2012   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

Learning When To Run

 **Writer’s Note** 

October of last year, a massive flood and mudslide covered one of my beloved villages in Italy.  Since that time I have been working to help raise awareness and money for the extensive restoration and rebuild.  I am currently writing a book about the village’s history, beauty and the disaster.  I will be donating 100% of the proceeds once published. 

I have been asked why I would spend so much of my time and effort for a place half the world away.

This is my response.

When I was 15 years old a man named Garvin saved my life when he didn’t have to.

I was 4,000 miles away from home and my family when the earthquake hit Costa Rica.  My friends and I stood dumbstruck on that beach trying to comprehend what had just happened.  I can remember grabbing our video camera to film the ocean in its eerie stillness.  I was naive to the pending danger and oblivious of the power that was to follow those quietly receding waters.  From out of the jungle came shouting.

‘Run!  Run girls.  Run!’

A local named Garvin, with his dark bare chest and long dreadlocks haphazardly whipping behind him, was sprinting towards us at full speed.

‘Run NOW!’ he commanded.

My reverie was broken.  The rushing wave of water suddenly in focus.  I did not know the word tsunami at the time, but I certainly understood the fear.  We dropped everything and fled for the safety of the jungle, Garvin pushing us on from behind.  I was first up the steep embankment and several feet into the trees before I dared turn around.  I watched as the water overtook the last of my companions, the wave rising up and over her head.  Garvin reached down and plucked her to safety.  She was shaken and drenched, but she was alive.  We all were.

That afternoon I experienced four new things:  the power of an earthquake measuring 7.4 from which I was less than 10 miles from the epicenter, the unrelenting force of the ocean knocked off balance, the comfort of a pull of whiskey straight from the bottle and the kind selfless bravery of a stranger.  Garvin.  One man who could have looked the other way and sought safety for himself.  Instead, he took a risk to save three others who were nothing more than visitors in his land.

The beach after the earthquake and tsunami.
Courtesy of Steve Casimuro

Over 20 years later on October 25, 2011 I woke to bits and pieces of news about a devastating flood and mudslide to an Italian village that had long ago captured a piece of my heart.  Vernazza.  Just the name rolling off my tongue makes me smile, evoking warm memories of lazy days and deep conversations running well into the night.  The thought of my special place trapped in mud was unbearable.  To make matters worse there was nothing I could do to help from across the ocean.  I wanted to pick up a shovel but instead I settled for this pen.  I began to write.  To write of what was, what is and what could be.  I found I was not alone.  So many others shared my bond and reached out to help.

This became more than a book.  This became my love story to Vernazza.  For the heroes, the brave, the fallen and the stubbornly resilient.  This is about kindness and beauty; this is about past history and new beginnings.  This is also my chance to pay forward for a sacrifice made many years ago on a Costa Rican beach.

My hope is to move you, to inspire you and give you courage.  Courage in your own life to make a difference and to understand that no support is too little nor act too small.  We have all been saved in some way by someone at sometime in our lives.  The time has now come to be the brave, the one to pluck the suffering from the water.

The one to yell ‘RUN!’

Cinque Terre

Beautiful Vernazza before the flood.

Cinque Terre

Water raging through the harbor square.

Joining up again with the fabulous writers at yeah write. Click the button below to read some truly wonderful writers and don’t forget to return on Thursday to vote for your five favorite posts.

Copyright 2012  Andi Brown  Once in a Lifetime Travel

Vernazza Updates for March | Progress with Flood and Mudslide Clean Up

Courtesy of Save Vernazza.  Please visit their donate site to learn how you can continue to help!

Stepping onto the terrace, I became mesmerized by sights and smells.  After a long, seemingly endless winter, I was once again in Vernazza, an exceptional place where even after the events of last October, much remains the same: the church bells and rhythmic waves; the green of the hillsides; the blue of the water and the pastels of the buildings contrasting and yet complimenting one another.

I came to Vernazza this morning for a public meeting, hosted by Mayor Vincenzo Resasco, detailing Vernazza’s strategic plan for reconstruction, updates on the progress made thus far and how Vernazza is preparing itself for the reopening of its tourist season.

An announcement made at the meeting, and one that Save Vernazza is pleased to have helped facilitate, is that architect and urbanist Richard Rogers will be providing his expertise in the rebuilding of Vernazza by overseeing Vernazza’s “urban regeneration” project.  Lord Rogers is the 2007 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate, recipient of the 1985 RIBA Gold Medal and the 2006 Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement (La Biennale di Venezia).  Over the course of his successful career, Richard Rogers has made a major impact on contemporary architecture, with key projects such as the Centre Pompidou in Paris, Lloyd’s of London and Terminal 4 in Madrid Barajas Airport.

On a personal note, Richard has a great affection for Vernazza and has been a frequent visitor for years.  He believes that the reconstruction should be elegant in its simplicity in order to preserve Vernazza’s unique character as an authentic small town for both inhabitants as well as tourists.  We are honored and excited to have the guidance of such a well known and respected professional and Vernazza will most certainly benefit from Mr. Rogers’ involvement.

Other topics of discussion at the meeting included the status of emergency projects currently underway:

  • Sewage: completed
  • Canal: includes roadwork as well as enlargement of the canal itself.  This enlargement is necessary for what has been referred to as “200 year security” (enabling the canal to withstand future storms such as that of October 25, estimated to occur once every 200 years)
  • Landslides: project focuses on securing the slides that directly impact the canal and reconstruction of the canal banks and bed in such a way as to decrease the velocity of the water.
  • Water: continuing on schedule, approximately 90% of all homes with running water
  • Aqueduct: continuing on schedule
  • Electricity: continuing on schedule
  • Via Roma: This week, temporary asphalting of Vernazza’s main street Via Roma will be underway.  Next winter the road will be dug up once again and all of Vernazza’s electrical, telephone, TV, etc. cables will be run underground.  Final work along Via Roma is expected to be completed in early 2013.
  • Gas:  By the end of June 2012, a temporary methane gas containment system will be in place to provide methane gas to Vernazza.  Over the next 2 years, permanent pipeline will be laid to transport methane gas to Vernazza from the village of Volastra, a project costing approximately 2.2 million Euro and funded by the Protezione Civile.

For up to date images of the reconstruction effort visit our Travel Advisor Photos & Videos page.  And, for information on the status of commercial activities, please visit Travel Advisor Home Page.

Additionally, the town is organizing for the beach & harbor clean-up effort in which a group of volunteer scuba divers will assist and dredging of the sea bottom will be necessary.  The estimated cost for this effort is 700,000 – 800,000 Euro, approximately 150,000 Euro already pledged by STL (Sistema Turistico Locale) of Liguria.

Also included in Vernazza’s strategic plan was a focus on sustainable environmental and social/economic development, specifically with regards to renewable energy, garbage & recycling, sewage, sustainable tourism and education & promotion of Vernazza’s territory.

The importance of safeguarding Vernazza’s territory was discussed at length and recognized as the key to sustainability for Vernazza, both environmentally as well as economically.   Going forward it will be of great importance to Vernazza to attract the kind of travelers who create a relationship with the town, make a connection with the place, its people and its territory, thus understanding and respecting its culture, environment and heritage.

In keeping with this discussion and in alignment with our projects, Save Vernazza will be meeting next week with Vernazza’s key technical advisers to map out the best way to collaborate on and move forward with projects that educate through programs and volunteer efforts, assist in the rebuild of trails and focus on the reconstruction of the “muretti a secco”, the dry stone walls that integral to the terracing of Vernazza’s hillsides.  Details of and updates on Save Vernazza’s projects can be found at our Rebuild, Restore, Preserve Vernazza page.

At the end of the meeting, I was asked to speak to the audience of residents about Save Vernazza.  But in addition to speaking about the details of our projects, I felt the desire to also express my deep appreciation of and respect for Vernazza, its people and territory.  This brought about within me an overwhelming mix of emotions by thinking of the October tragedy and the town’s courageous work to rebuild.  I knew I had to do my best to keep from becoming emotional, so I focused on the faces in front of me.  The faces that for the last 4 months have been dirtied with mud, stained with tears, and lined with smiles and laughter.  The faces now giving me the strength to keep it together.  The faces forever filled with determination and hope.

The weather is warming and the coming of spring gives way to a new hope.  Less than 5 months ago the unimaginable happened, and no one at that time would have predicted all that has been accomplished in the time that has passed since.  And yet, even after the unimaginable, much remains the same.  The waves, the bells, the blues, the greens…the constants that made Vernazza recognizable even when she wasn’t.. Now as we slowly return to normal, the “newness” of Vernazza brought about by that tragic day is impossible to overlook.  It is a blinding reminder that change is vital to Vernazza’s future.

Vernazza’s “New Beach”

In order to sustain the uniqueness and beauty that is Vernazza, tourism and territory must go hand in hand, for there is no future for one without the other.  Vernazza now stands at a crossroads and years from now we hope to look back and take pride in the example she has set for the rest of the world, one of harmony and balance created by the coming together of the two in such a way one cannot imagine it ever being otherwise. Ruth Manfredi, Save Vernazza

Save Vernazza Posts Travel Advisor | What will be open after the flood clean up

Taken from Save Vernazza’s site.  Please visit here and donate to their efforts!!

The list of restaurant’s did not copy well, I will be cleaning it up later next week but for now…..

This page reflects the current state of affairs regarding Vernazza’s commercial activities, to best prepare the Vernazza bound traveler.

Information will be updated as received so please keep checking back.

The people of Vernazza are looking forward to welcoming visitors this year and ask for your patience and understanding as we work to rebuild this exceptional village.  Vernazza will one day shine again as the crown jewel of the Cinque Terre, but we are still on the long and costly road to recovery.

Thank you for your continued support in the efforts to Save Vernazza!

Restaurants, Pizzerias, Bars
Name             Ananasso Bar             Bati Bati No. 1             Bati Bati No. 2             Blue Marlin Bar             Burgus Bar             Antica Osteria Il Baretto             Il Pirata delle Cinque Terre             Pizzeria Ercole             Pizzeria Fratelli Basso             Pizzeria Baia Saracena             Ristorante Belforte             Ristorante Gambero Rosso             Trattoria Gianni Franzi             Ristorante Al Castello             Ristorante La Torre             Ristorante Incadase da Piva             Ristorante Pizzeria Vulnetia             Trattoria Taverna del Capitano             Trattoria da Sandro Opening Date uncertain             May uncertain             mid-late May             end of March             May uncertain             early April             late May, early June             mid March OPEN             April uncertain             early April             April             April             early April             early March uncertain
Save Vernazza Travel Advisor
Markets & Gelaterias
Name             Coop Market             Gelateria Il Porticciolo             Gelateria Stalin             Il Forno (Bakery)             Porto Dody Gelateria Artiginale             Pino & Sonia’s Alimentari (Market) Opening Date will not reopen this season uncertain             May             June             June             April
Save Vernazza Travel Advisor
Name A Ca’ Da Nonna             Affittacamere Ingrid & Antonio Albergo Barbara B&B Ettore & Irene Camere Elisabetta Camere Fontanavecchia             Camere Giuliano Basso Camere Manuela Moggia Camere Nicolina Camere Rosa Vitali Camere Vittoria Casa Vacanze Emanuela Eva’s Rooms Francamaria Rooms Il Pirata Rooms Ivo Camere La Mala La Marina Rooms Maria Capellini Rooms Memo Rooms Rooms Martina Callo Taverna del Capitano Rooms Tonino Basso Affittacamere Trattoria Gianni Franzi Vernazza Rooms Opening Date             May 1 will not reopen this season             March 1             May 1             May 1 uncertain, contact late March/early April unable to reopen this season             May 1             April 6             June 1             June 1 uncertain, contact late March/early April             May 1             April 20 uncertain, contact late March/early April             June 1             May 1             May 1             May 1 uncertain, contact late March/early April             May 1             May 1 uncertain, contact late March/early April             June 1             April 1
Save Vernazza Travel Advisor

The table above reflects information as it has been communicated to Save Vernazza by the room owners. Reservations are being taken now for dates referenced and onward. For example, “Camere XYZ: May 1” signifies that, as of today, Camere XYZ will be responding to inquiries and confirming reservations for May 1 and beyond.

Many room owners could be opening prior to their listed date, pending work completion. If you would like to inquire about a reservation prior to the listed date please send your inquiry to the room owner the last week in March or the first week in April.

The publishing of this list does not infer Save Vernazza’s endorsement of any particular business nor acceptance of responsibility for any travel plans made as a result of the information within.


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