On May 22, I went on the excursion to Cinque Terre, suggested by our neighbor Judy.  She also had warned that there’s a lot of walking and steps, so Carol opted out.

    The area became a national park in 1999 and a world UNESCO site in 2000.  It consists of five small villages, carved into the sides of the cliffs that plunge into the sea.  The hills have been terraced to have fields to grow crops, mostly grapes, with the people working on their knees.  Trains, bikes, and boats (weather permitting) connect the villages.  Children ride the train to commute to schools located only in the larger towns nearby. Trains began in 1874, with the 2nd track added in the 1920s.

    In about 2007, there was an Italian movie called (roughly translated) “Three Meters Above the Sky” (how it feels when you’re in love), in which the couple locked a padlock on a gate grill and tossed the key into the sea, sealing their love forever.  Since then, on Lovers’ Lane, built back in 1928-29, padlocks have appeared everywhere imaginable.  In the absence of a padlock, you’ll see cloth, plastic bags, shoelaces, etc.

    The area is part of the Italian Riviera, frequented by writers, poets, painters, including Byron and Shelley.

    After WWII, many farmers and fishermen moved away and the terraces were left unattended.  Government-funded tourism brought people back in the 1980s for a rebirth.

    San Lorenzo church dates to 1320, with the watch/bell tower to the 1100s.  Painting houses only began about 300 yrs. ago; previously the houses blended in with the rocky cliffs as protection against pirates.

   

Above, white marble deposits in the lower Alps mountains and below, one of several quarry companies.