Update: the latest news is that Monterosso is damaged but not wiped out:)
Vernazza, as seen from a hill above the city, was partly destroyed yesterday.
Picture from here of Manarola
A buzz on my phone early this morning woke me up. A friend had messaged me about the storm that hit the Liguria region of Italy yesterday, killing 8 people and destroying villages. Two of the most badly hit villages were in Cinque Terre ("Five Lands"), and my hairs stood when I read the message. Monterosso, the first village and Vernazza, the beauty queen. I can remember these places so vividly, like I just came back from there. I remember the train rides from Genoa to the Five Lands and within the villages, accessible only by boats and trains.
I googled the news and what I read made me tear. I was in Cinque Terre just a year ago with my daughter and we talk about the place often. Yi says she'll honeymoon in Cinque Terre, not places like the boring Maldives, which is the top destination for China-Chinese honeymooners who walk around in matching shorts and count the hours to the next flight home. We had never heard of Cinque Terre until my friend CY sent me Rick Steves' Europe and Cinque Terre was described like a best kept secret. Of course when we got there, it was totally invaded by the Americans.
Cinque Terre is one of the prettiest places I've been to, apart from Banff, Canada (more majestic and beautiful than Switzerland!) but they are different. Of the five villages, Vernazza is the top favorite among tourists but my fave is Manarola, which is smaller than Vernazza but less touristy, if that can be used to described these places which were fishing viallges but now survive on tourism. I can't believe that Monterosso, the first village, has been completely wiped out. It's so sad. I hope they rebuild and recover quickly.
I'll never forget Cinque Terre and the perfect day my daughter and I spent there. My big regret is that I didn't make any hotel bookings and refused to pay through my nose to stay the night. I should have done that.
This is the Monterosso beach which is the first thing you see when you get off the train station. We didn't see the village of Monterosso because it was quite a walk away and it was too hot. As of yesterday, Monterosso village no longer exists.