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Mud and Beauty in the Cinque Terre

It was like a punch in the gut a week ago, (October 25, 2011) when I heard that the Cinque Terre had been devastated by flood waters and mud. I had been in those five towns in 2008. I photographed them with an intensity and passion that yielded a sort of intimate affection for the area. Take a look. The colorful beauty, the resourcefulness, the geometric, playful stacking… and the few people that I was able to talk to at the time, (due to my own language limitations) made me easily love the Cinque Terre.

In last week’s flooding, the towns of Vernazza – one of my favorites – and Monterosso were especially hard hit. An Italian friend wrote to me and said “Cinque Terre is destroyed. So sad.” I was speechless. As I looked at photos and videos online, I saw buildings I had photographed, places I had stood, things I knew. This made Vernazza’s flooding more personal.

In 2008, I stood in front of this meat and cheese shop and enjoyed the blue curtains against the russet-colored wall in Vernazza.

Watching newscasts of the flooding last week, the "Salumi e Formaggi" awning jumped out at me. The entire first floor throughout the town of Vernazza was filled with water and debris, and now remains filled with mud.

In 2008, I was tickled by the "faux painting" around the town of Monterosso, such as this painted brick pattern.

This image on news sites tugged at me: the building I had photographed, now deep in mud and debris. (Picture by Miriam Rossignoli (http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=523038047)

Vernazza's harbor, shot in 2008, features the local church, central piazza, places to eat, play, swim and sun.

Though this site is in Italian, the pictures tell the whole story. Move the central cursor line back and forth to see before-and-after images.

This video shows the rush of water and mud flowing through the center of Vernazza:

Watch as cars tumble through the streets and out to sea in Vernazza:

Cinque Terre’s regional blog has many videos and photos showing the destruction caused by the flood.   http://www.cinqueterre.com/blog/ 

This video shows the torrent rushing through the town of Monterosso:

More news reports:

Mudslides and Flooding Ravage Areas of Scenic Beauty in Italy” (NYT)

“Storms claim six lives in Italy. ‘Everything is flooded. Monterosso is gone’ says mayor” (ANSA.it)

This blogger, Nicole, gives an overview of the cleanup efforts:  http://culturalcomments.blogspot.com/2011/10/disaster-strikes-vernazza.html

Reports are many, and astounding. Do an internet search on “Vernazza flood” and you can read for hours. Personally, I remain stunned.

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  1. lynnNovember 4,11

    This is heart breaking! It leaves me speechless. So very sorry.

    Amazing that you took a photo in exactly the same place as the news photo of Salumi.

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