Ecotourism in Cinque Terre

Update 2020: Thank you for visiting. If you are reading this post, you may have found it through a link on Find Your Italy.

The information listed below was correct when this was published in 2009, but that does not seem to be the case now. I have attempted to contact Protect Cinque Terre and its organizers, but I have not been able to reach anyone. It appears that this organization no longer exists.

I am in the process of writing a post on sustainable tourism in Italy. In the meantime, I invite you to browse the Italofile archives or check out these posts.

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.

Photo by Protect Cinque Terre

About Author

Melanie Renzulli has been writing about travel to Italy for more than 20 years.


  • cinque terre
    21 April 2009 at 9:03 am

    Hi, just want to invite you and your readers to our site about the cinque terre
    ( in my signature ) and to the blog where you can also vote the nicest of the 5 Terre.
    Also a video section is online: Video of the Cinque Terre, a different point of view..

  • anne
    28 July 2009 at 5:07 pm

    Hi I just found you on Modicana twitter…I think this programme is brillaint, wish I had someone who could come with me 🙂 Maybe one day!!

  • Tina
    6 February 2010 at 8:55 am

    I believe Cinque Terre are a little overrated. There are so many places alike and now too many tourists.

    • Melanie
      8 February 2010 at 10:48 am

      Everyone has their favorite places in Italy, and for many people that is Cinque Terre. I’m just providing my readers with more information about them, then they can visit and decide for themselves! 🙂

  • Lee Buice
    11 April 2010 at 11:49 am

    Good infomation here, thanks.


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