A week in the Cinque Terre National Park (Italy) - Vernazza
In september 2018 we spent a week on the Ligurian Coast to discover the "Cinque Terre National Park", and some villages and cities of this nice area of the north of Italy.
The "Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre", or "Cinque Terre National Park" in English, is a protected area inducted as Italy's first national park in 1999. Located in the province of La Spezia, Liguria, northern Italy, it is the smallest national park in Italy at 4,300 acres, but also the densest with 5,000 permanent inhabitants among the five towns.
In addition to the territory of the towns of Cinque Terre (Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare), the Cinque Terre National Park encompasses parts of the communes of Levanto (Punta Mesco) and La Spezia. Cinque Terre was included as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.
The collection of five cliff-side towns on the Ligurian Coast linked by a series of trails highlights a delicate relationship between man and the environment. As modification of the landscape has been so vital for the area's development and tourist industry, the National Park is an essential tool in preserving and maintaining the natural landscape while promoting sustainable tourism that vital to the economic success of Cinque Terre. To achieve its objectives, the Park Organization encourages the development of responsible tourism, able therefore to invest in the identity of the places and the territory's products, and thus save its immense heritage of terracing, now endangered
The Cinque Terre National Park was established on 6 October 1999 in recognition of the territory's considerable scenic, agricultural, historical and cultural value. The five medieval towns along the Ligurian Coast provide scenic views of rugged terrain reeled in with terraced stone walls, where the mountains of 'Appennino Ligure come straight to the sea. The form and disposition of the towns as they embrace topography embedded in the cliffs are a testament to the long history of settlement and the terraced cultivated lands to the agricultural heritage of the area.
As the first Italian park created to safeguard a landscape that has been mostly built by humans, the Cinque Terre National Park and Protected Marine Area aim to protect cultural heritage of “the park of Man.”. The site's location and topography is a vital part of the identity of Cinque Terre, whose extreme typological restraints and access to the coast inherently provide for a delicate relationship between man and the natural environment. That relationship has led to a dual existence, focused on both land and sea.
For more than a thousand years, man has cut the steep slopes for terrace farming and vineyards while at sea maintaining a strong fishing culture. The beauty of Cinque Terre lies not in a pristine environment void of man, but rather the interplay of the two.
Known for its natural environment and coastal hiking trails, Cinque Terre is a tourist destination that draws people from all over the world, the numbers rising to 3.5- 5 million in the month of August alone.
While there is great concern for the environmental effects of such numbers of visitors, tourism is essential, having long replaced farming and fishing as the area's chief economy. Recognizing the value of sustainable ecotourism, the goal of World Heritage areas like Cinque Terre National Park is to maintain the ecosystem in a functional state by preserving the fine balance between tourism and agriculture
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