Tag Archives | Liguria

Ecotourism in the Cinque Terre


The Cinque Terre, already a favorite destination for travelers to Italy, is one place where sustainable initiatives are taking root. Protect Cinque Terre operates out of Vernazza, one of the five “terre” (lands) and offers participants the opportunity to work with locals in landscape preservation such as “rebuilding the stone walls that support terraced agriculture, cleaning trails used by thousand of tourists every month, and harvesting some of the agricultural bounty grown on the hillsides around the town.”

For sure, this is a challenging working holiday. But it can also be fulfilling. Danielle Machotka, who volunteered for the program and wrote about it for Transitions Abroad, had this to say:

Over the course of the three days, we learned about the impact that tourism has on a small town like Vernazza. The population of 800 doubles on a typical summer day. Some tourists stay for a couple of hours, buy gelato and postcards, and t-shirts, and leave for the next town. Some stay for a night or two. Some return every year.

All create waste. Sanitary sewer lines and water treatment plants are at capacity. Nature-loving hikers increase the potential for erosion with every footstep. None of this is immediately fatal to the well-being of Vernazza, but it is eating away at the town’s surroundings and resources. Tourism and agriculture are the primary industries; neither creates great financial surpluses. Alessandro and Olga hope that the working holiday program will be the first step towards solving the problem by raising awareness.

Protect Cinque Terre has three programs in 2009, including a Wine Harvest Program in September. The price for three days/four nights, including lodging, all meals, guided tours, entrance fees, transportation during scheduled excursions, and tools required during the program is €445 per person.

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Photo by Protect Cinque Terre

What’s On In Italy: April 2009

We missed March’s event round-up and we’re late for this month’s. So here we go…

Easter: Last month, we posted the Vatican’s Holy Week Calendar. The website whatsonwhen.com lists two of Italy’s most famous Easter celebrations: Florence’s Scoppio del Carro and Madonna che Scappa in Piazza (Madonna who runs in the square) in Sulmona (Abruzzo). Taranto, in Puglia, is also known for its hours-long Holy Week processions, a tradition from the days when Puglia was a Spanish territory.

Spring! A profusion of flowers and outdoor events usher in spring in Italy. Milan puts on the annual Fiori e Sapori gardening show and food fair on April 5. If you’re in Rome this month, you can expect to see the Spanish Steps abloom with flowers of pink, red, and white.

Food and Wine. In addition to the Fiori e Sapori fest in Milan (see above), there are a number of food festivals this month. From April 17-20, Genoa will  host Slow Fish, a tribute by local restaurants to fish and seafood done the traditional (slow) way. There will be wine festivals in Rome (April 25-26) and Porto Cervo in Sardinia (24-26) and, through April 6, Verona will host VinItaly, which brings together wine producers from all over the country.

Sport: In Rome, there’ll be the derby between Lazio and Roma (April 19). On the same day in Venice will be the Su e Zo per i Ponti, a sort of walkathon “up and down” the canal city’s bridges.

April also sees the celebration of Liberation Day (25) and the birth of Rome, which, on April 21, will be too old for me to calculate!

Genoa With Kids

I was recently doing some research on Genoa (Genova) and found that the old city, known for its port and as the birthplace of Christopher Columbus, has several kid-friendly activities, almost all of which can be found around the port.

From the port, families can take whale- and dolphin-watching excursions. Whale Watch Liguria offers the service year-round (weather permitting) from several departure points in Liguria for approximately €32 per person/€18 for children 3-12. Eco-conscious families may also want to check this list from the Dolphin Fund, which rates cetacean-sighting tours in Liguria and worldwide.

Another watery activity is going to the Acquario, Genoa’s impressive aquarium. The aquarium has several different underwater environments, including Mediterranean, coral reef, Red Sea, and Arctic waters complete with diving penguins. There are several different price structures depending on your interests (guided tours, children’s tours, aquarium after dark, etc.).

Genoa also has a Città dei Bambini, located in an old cotton warehouse by the port. Sections are divided by age (2-3 y.o., 3-5, 6-14), and include a “grotta” play area for the little ones, a construction site with hard hats for the 3-5s, and a giant “navigable” ship for the older kids. In all, there are 96 exhibits.

Finally, families may enjoy getting out of the city and taking an historic toy train up to the mountains. The train from Genoa to Casella disembarks every Sunday in the spring and summer and chugs its way through hilly terrain with views of the sea.

Photo © Osvaldo Zoom

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