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Posts tagged ‘Save Vernazza’

Sofia – A Journey with Leukemia

sofia journey with leukemiaMy long time readers know about my love of Vernazza, one of the small villages in the Cinque Terre along the Italian Riviera.  The same village that was ravaged by mudslides almost two years ago is now facing a very intimate battle.  The battle of little Sofia.

Sofia was recently diagnosed with leukemia and has already undergone a series of chemotherapy treatments.  Her father Andrew explained that she is a strong spirit and this is not her first fight.  Born two months premature, this family already understands how precious life is and how a moment can change everything.  I am a mother myself of two young children.  My son is the same age as Sophia and also born early, spending his first weeks in the NICU.  I can’t help but take it a little personally.  I can’t help but wonder if I could be as strong.  I can’t but see my child’s eyes in hers.  To be honest, I am weeks late in writing this post for lack of the right words.  I can’t begin to imagine and I’m sorry certainly doesn’t cut it.

999414_155193354675230_1271573226_nSofia is home now, right where she belongs but the road ahead of her and her family is filled with unknowns and difficulties.   She has a FACEBOOK page where kind and encouraging words are appreciated.  The family also has a site on You Caring where donations are most certainly cherished.  At the time of this writing, the family is half way to their fundraising goal.  Please CLICK HERE to help.  While living in a village as beautiful as Vernazza, there are significant drawbacks during times like these.  Her parents run a small store as their only source of income and have had to close the shop frequently to be with Sofia, causing obviously financial strain.

“We want to give Sofia whatever she needs to make her life as easy as possible in this time.  We hope you can find it in your hearts to help us and in turn help little Sofia.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts”

Thank you all.



Best towns to homebase in Italy without a car

I love finding a place in Italy and parking it there for an extended period of time.  I believe this is THE best way to connect with the people and have as close to a true cultural experience as a tourist.  Not to mention this is a great way to save money, decrease travel time and get to actually relax.

I will be listing a few of my favorites towns to home base in for travelers that are using public transportation only.  Unlike the US, it is fairly easy to get around using just the train systems.


I love Cortona.  One of my favorite restaurants is here.  Also my favorite weekly market.  And wine store.  And antique store.  You get the idea.  The town itself can keep you busy for a few days.  Florence, Assisi, Orvieto, Spello and Perguia are all within easy train distance.

cortona italy


My very first hilltown I visited when I was 19.  You can never shake your first love.  Orvieto gets loads of attention because of its location near the autostrada, but it still maintains its beauty and charm.  Evenings are exceptional here.  My favorite handbag store in within the walls of Orvieto.  The views are some of the absolute best.  Easy connections from Orvieto by either bus or train are Rome, Florence, Cortona, Civita, Bolsena, Chiusi and Montepulciano.

orvieto italy


If you are planning time on the coast, stretch it out and really make a vacation out of it.  So many people rush in and out of this area.  Vernazza is my favorite home base for seeing the other four villages of the Cinque Terre.  There is more to be visited in the area by easy train connections like Portofino, Portovenere and Sestri Levante.

Cinque Terre

To be continued…….

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Copyright 2012   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

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

Featured Photo Friday | Vernazza’s One Year Anniversary Since Flooding

Remember help is still needed.  Please visit Save Vernazza today!

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Copyright 2012   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

Trattoria da Sandro Open Again | Vernazza

When people ask me where my very favorite restaurant in Vernazza is, without hesitation I say Sandro’s.  It is one of the only restaurants without a view of the harbor, but that doesn’t keep it from being packed every evening.  The crowd Sandro’s draws is also important:  locals and Italians.  Going where the locals go has always been my secret for finding the best places and I wasn’t disappointed here.  So much so that almost one year ago I placed it on my Top Ten Favorite Places to Eat list.


The village of Vernazza

But when the floods hit Vernazza last October, I was afraid Sandro’s would be lost for good.  This restaurant was one of the hardest hit and the owner barely escaped with his life.  The location of the restaurant and the way the kitchen was set up meant a difficult clean up and recovery.

This hardship makes announcing Trattoria da Sandro’s re-opening even more exciting.  If anyone is getting ready to travel to the Cinque Terre, make sure to stop by Vernazza and spend an evening here.  Let them delight you!

For the most recent photos from Trattoria da Sandro, I invite you to my blogging friend’s mouth-watering article at Cultural Comments.  I have been trying not to be too jealous of Nicole, but come on!  Those photos are just NOT FAIR!

vernazza cinque terre

Courtesy of Cultural Comments. And I’m not jealous at all. Really.

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Copyright 2012   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

Featured Photo Friday | Cinque Terre Fishing Boat

Italian Riveria, Italy

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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


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


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