Paul and Lucy Spadoni periodically live in Tuscany to explore Paul’s Italian roots, practice their Italian and enjoy “la dolce vita.” Paul is the author of "An American Family in Italy: Living La Dolce Vita without Permission," an Amazon bestseller.
All work is copyrighted and may not be reprinted without written permission from the author, who can be contacted at www.paulspadoni.com
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Despite widespread reports, Italian government is NOT limiting access to the popular Cinque Terre
If you have travel plans to visit the
spectacularly picturesque Cinque Terre in Italy’s Liguria region,
you may have read that you need to get permission from the Parco
Nazionale delle Cinque Terre, starting this summer, to enter the
area. That’s according to an article in the The Guardian, a
British daily newspaper, which translated and repeated news printed
in La Repubblica and several other Italian news sources.
However, the park president, responding to outcries and criticisms
from other government officials and tourism agencies, has since
backtracked and stated that no limits will be put into place.
Vittorio Alessandro, president of the
Cinque Terre national park, initially stated that some restrictions would be instituted this summer, but now he says only that the park is studying the problem and seeking solutions. This is not surprising, since it would seem to be a near-impossibility that the park could exclude visitors who have already booked tours and hotel rooms. While the area is part of a national park, it also contains five working cities, and one can hardly deny people access to the businesses and homes there. While many other news sites picked up and repeated the story fromThe Guardian, most Italian news sources are telling people not to be concerned.
can’t be denied that tourists are over-running this once unspoiled
jewel, creating tangles of foot traffic that snarl the small roads
and trails. It is obvious that measures are needed to preserve the
environment and the ambiance. People live there year-around and they
have for centuries. They have a right to move around freely on their
own streets. If tourists chase the residents away, the area will
become a Disneyland or Epcot Center, a facade where the only real
residents are employees of the tourism industry.
is to reduce attendance,” Alessandro said in the controversial interview printed in La Repubblica. “Normally the tendency is
to try to increase tourism, to fill the beds and rooms. The flow of
crowds must be managed in a more sustainable way. People will
criticize, of course, but the park must also have a pedagogical (educational) mission.”
that 2.5 million people visit the Cinque Terre each year, and that is
a million more than this fragile area can sustain.
to Alessandro, the since-withdrawn proposal had two parts: One was to limit the number of
tourists allowed on the Via dell’Amore at one time, and the other
was to allocate separate trains for tourists and residents. Tourists
would have to buy a special train ticket that would include admission
to the Cinque Terre area.
Alessandro had said, was already in place: “We installed
pedometers on the trails to the Via dell’Amore . . . in order to
calculate with the geologists, the maximum load. It’s also a safety
issue. By the summer, we’ll have all the data, and the number of
people who can access each trail per day will be established,
according to the weather and course conditions. If the trail is sold
out, the visitors will postpone the visit to the next available
As expected, the plan had many critics, and they quickly exerted pressure to see
the restrictions nullified or at the very least postponed and modified.
the number of people at Cinque Terre is inappropriate and
unworkable,” said Rita Mazzi, provincial director of a
confederation of tourism businesses. “The Cinque Terre are and will
remain the driving asset in the future of tourism development for the
entire La Spezia province. They must be protected and defended. We
must aim for quality tourism that is sustainable with the
environment. But to speak of a ‘closed number’ is harmful.”
seem possible that limited traffic on the trail could be attainable,
because it would just restrict access in a particular area, and
residents of the Cinque Terre could be given passes allowing them to
bypass any barriers. Part two, however, is filled with complications
and would require the cooperation and participation of numerous
governmental agencies, including the national train company, the
regional government and that of the various cities in the area. This
cooperation and coordination will be much more difficult to attain.
President of the Liguria Region, Giovanni Toti, has stated on behalf
of the regional government that he is totally against limited access
to the Cinque Terre: “Limiting access in a country that must count
on tourism is a contradiction and a way to abdicate responsibility.
We will work instead to increase the quality of tourism services.”
mentioned the need for enhanced transportation systems and the
development of other means of reducing congestion, problems which
previous government administrations have failed to address.
regional assessor of tourism, Gianni Berrino, also spoke against the
plans put forth by Alessandro: “The position of the regional
government is clear, and we want to confirm this strongly in order to
prevent inaccuracies like this which spread internationally at
lightning speed these days. This non-news will inevitably undermine
the upcoming tourist season, not only in Eastern Liguria but with
domino effect on the entire region.”
forum participant on Rick Steves’ website, Roberto, from Fremont, California, weighed in with
his insight as well: “Unfortunately once in a while you hear public
officials, such as the head of the CT National Park, who has no
jurisdiction on this matter, making statements just because they like
to hear themselves talk.”
own advice is that if you want to visit the Cinque Terre, do it in
the early spring or late fall, when the weather is still mild and the
number of tourists is low. Summers are hot and crowded here, so that
advice pretty much goes for any place in Italy you want to see, but
it is especially true for the more popular attractions. However, if
you must come in the summer, don’t worry. It is in the best interests of the
Italian government and tourism industry to
accommodate you. 2017 update: The park service has responded to a written inquiry about the coming season:‟No,
non ci sarà nessuno limite turistico.” No limits this year.