I see a lot of inquiries about le Cinque Terre's recovery from last year's deadly floods, and I wanted to offer up something for people's consideration.
The main attraction of le Cinque Terre is the combination of the dramatic natural beauty of the landscape PLUS the human ingenuity that built housing and functioning towns on this seemingly impossible terrain.
I can understand people inquiring about whether enough hotels and eateries have re-opened, or whether the trains or boats are running.
It is more puzzling to see questions about whether the area is presently worth seeing as a tourist.
If anything, the extraordinary act of nature that created last year's powerful floods, and the response of its native citizens, have only made le Cinque Terre a MORE INTERESTING place to see. The historic struggle to maintain human habit there, the ingenuity of its people, the raw and relentless power of nature, made tame and sweet by hard work, is all right out there now, in living 3-D.
If I could roll back the clock, last year's terrible floods never would have happened. But they did, and one surprising result is how le Cinque Terre has been moved away from being a tidy little framed picture postcard (that same picture, over and over) stomped flat by tourists to a very lively community of patriots who have re-emerged to reclaim their villages and again reshape the landscape, busy building and rebuilding in a tight community tradition that goes back centuries.
Even before Rick Steves, le Cinque Terre had been a place where people with more travel spirit than money came from all over the owrd to simply marvel at nature at her most dramatic and difficult but at the same time inspiring.
There is always the chance that, once this shock is over, le Cinque Terre will drift back into picture postcard, tourist snapshot land, just another pretty Riviera town with seaside cafes.
If you have a chance to see it now, this is the time to go. You'll get to see the history of the place exposed.Edited: 8:37 am, April 23, 2012