25th October 2011: Tourism and upkeep of the area.
The images you have seen over the past few days mix feelings and time. They are the same, even if fortunately with less terrible consequences, than those we saw a few years ago in the Cinque Terre and nearby Valle del Vara. They are images of mud and rubble, collapsed bridges and devastated towns.
Fortunately today, thanks to the constant work of men and women who have dedicated their physical energy and economic resources (often scraping the bottom of the barrel) our towns are back on their feet and, where possible, have even improved. Certainly the spaces left by those who disappeared in the mud have not been filled by the on mass return of tourists and visitors.
When we talk about the anniversary, about 25th October, I say that it is the first anniversary. Of the restart. Remember and restart. And so it was done. And we are fortunate. We are fortunate to have the eyes of the world on us. With its pros and its cons. We must not forget that in the last three years there have been two floods (and a landslide which also injured some Australian women). A real one and a legal one. And, without disrespecting anyone, in the moment of the second flood, the real one, with the muddy water arriving from all around, the territory of the Cinque Terre was still injured, psychologically, and disorientated from what had happened the year before. It was, as you say, on its knees. Or in the corner. Weak, anyway.
Today we’ve restarted.
With projects involving environmental education, or perhaps territorial education, we need to make tomorrow’s citizens aware of how to protect the territory. The sea and Apennines parks are the starting point. Monterosso and Castelnuovo ne Monti are neighbouring towns and close to the condition, whether we are talking about parks, the Cinque Terre national park and the national park of the Apennines. The small port of Riomaggiore and the Apuan Alp summits are neighbours too, if we are considering them as parks.
The same can be said for the protected marine areas, coordinated recently with participation at the ‘Festival della Scienza’. Punta Montenero and Bergeggi are adjoining and in a continuum, if we considered them involved in the environmental project.
With the ASTA course, which takes place mid-November and sees teachers at a national level and the collaboration of prestigious universities, with tourism and the environment as the theme, we have the possibility of introducing our territory to teachers and students. The network of tracks is our industry (and testimony) to protect. Once they were the only pieces of land which linked the isolated towns and today they are the links used by hundreds or thousands of tourists. Our environmental economy, it is not just a case of ‘green economy’, is based on this. It has allowed young people, after years of abandon, to return to work (to continue to shape the territory) at home.
The territory of the Cinque Terre national park, one of the 24 national parks, has developed an economy which is worth many millions of Euros; it involves two million tourists every year and has an economic influence which covers two hundred kilometres. People need to feel responsible and proud to be protagonists.
The press has always followed us, in good and bad times. Three years ago was the legal flood, two years ago the one in Monterosso and Vernazza and last year, in September, the landslide on the Via dell’Amore which is still closed. The journalists have always kept the attention on our territory, they helped us, even when it seemed they weren’t doing so…
Today there is talk about a crisis involving visitors to Italy, afflicted by thousands of problems but, fortunately, in our area, the number of tourists, especially foreigners, has never waned.
In fact we now find ourselves in front of a growing trend, which we need to manage in order to avoid the risk of discontenting both the visitors and the inhabitants of the Cinque Terre. It has become indispensable to create services which are even more punctual, a welcoming system which is even more organised and a collaboration always more closely linked to the territory in which we live.
This is our difficult task for tomorrow morning, 25th October 2013.