Just two weeks ago, I wrote about the mesmerizing hike along the cliff that connects the towns of Monterrosso and Vernazza in Italy’s Cinque Terre. Yesterday, I froze as I read the disturbing news on Rick Steves’ website about the natural disaster that befell the area last week:
“…with a freakishly intense rainstorm — like a misplaced monsoon — torrents of water funneled from the surrounding mountains into the town carrying rampaging tons of mud and debris. That narrow street became a riverbed again, and Vernazza met a fate almost similar to Pompeii: the entire ground-floor of the town was buried…I get this ghastly feeling that these are photos of a crime scene…and that nature has murdered my friend”. -Rick Steves
Certainly one of the highlights of our recent European adventure, the five towns of the Cinque Terre are positioned on the precipice of danger. It’s humanity on the edge; a delicate balance that teeters between man and nature. It’s what makes the area so unique and so downright, mind-bogglingly beautiful. I was stunned to see the devastation.
The videos below were shot on the afternoon of October 25th, 2011
Vehicles being washed out to sea. (59 seconds)
The flood entering Vernazza’s harbor. (44 seconds)
Floods raging through Monterrosso. (17 seconds)
Also below is a snippet from Cultural Comments, a blog written by a local woman who survived the ordeal and posted pictures and tales of her experience.
“And the rain kept coming down…until the unthinkable happened. Around 3pm, the mountain above gave way and like a dirt tsunami, the earth plowed down, sweeping up everything in its path, pushing around the corner in a rush of flowing water, rocks, mud and cars. Smashing into the walls as the road turns and bottlenecks, a house collapsed from the pressure. The flow instantly eliminated the children’s playground before smashing into the bridge of the train station, burying the tracks and filling the second story tunnels with debris. The concrete and iron was no match for the fury of the landslide. It continued on, barreling down Via Roma, engulfing every business along the way, sparing nothing and no one”. -Nicole
Obviously, with a town like Vernazza as secluded as it is, it will be a long while before things return to normal—reports I’ve read are saying that nine people have been killed and that it will be some time before electricity, basic services and train connections are restored. For everyone that has visited the Cinque Terre, its hard to fathom such a disaster in paradise. My heart goes out to the people of the region.
It makes one pause to reflect on how quickly nature can reclaim her ground…