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3 min.

Well, talking Cinque Terre winemaking and dry stone walls is a bit like talking of a complicated, passionate and overwhelming love story, but it’s also talking about this beautiful Italian Riviera region history and about my roots too.

Cinque Terre winemaking

Some time ago I run into this touching video telling about Cinque Terre and its wines and how we got to call it “heroical agriculture”.

Cinque Terre winemaking history

The first vines were planted in Cinque Terre by Greek sailors and it’s the basis of the local agriculture since then. In order to improve its cultivation, over the centuries, men and women living along this narrow stripe of land built a dense network of terraces bands, called ciàn.

A great work of environmental engineering: 4,200 cubic meters of dry stony walls per hectare, for a total of 8,400,000 cubic meters; 3,163 linear meters of walls per hectare, for a total of 6729 km, more than the radius of the Earth. Sadly mostly abandoned now…

This historical video shows you the life style, sacrifices and costumes of Cinque Terre. A good way to understand this area and its people…

I watch it quite often actually and it keeps touching me to the core. I can’t watch it without thinking about granddad Antonio, his love for these narrow rocky terraces and their fruits and his many sacrifices.

Cinque Terre wine makers today

Today we have tourism and Cinque Terre was added to millions of people’s bucket lists. Traveling around the world I realized that everybody knows Cinque Terre, but even those who already visited the five villages aren’t really aware of what they actually saw.

The five villages are colorful and pretty even under dark grey skies, even under the rain, and it’s hard to get back home without beautiful shots, but this is just a postcard vision you get.

People often describe Cinque Terre as tiny cozy fishing villages… so wrong. But it’s our fault, no doubt about that. This means we aren’t showing our region true identity and therefore we aren’t respecting it.

Cinque Terre are five villages living on extremely difficult wine making and olive grows since ever. Lucky families during 19th century had their men working in one of the many navy/weapon making departments in nearby La Spezia or embarking on cargo or cruise lines ships. The rest of them lived a simple and quite poor farmer life.

Cinque Terre winemaking

Today wine makers still live like that. They can count on more income thanks to tourism, sure, but their daily life is still as heroic: no machinery around here due to our stunning, but oh so vertical landscape and the lack of space on terraced and parceled fields and above all no big numbers, with an average 5.000 wine bottles per year per winemaker. Not that profitable…

Heydi is a friend, one of the local winemakers working really hard to improve their wines quality and to preserve our tradition. One of those getting to produce around 20.000 bottles of his Possa wines, one of my heroes, just like Bartalo and his wife Lise, who’s job is challenged by the need to maintain dry stone walls.

The Grapes & Heroes crowdfunding campaign

Starting with the 2011 flood, every fall has been more challenging, with heavy rainfalls really feeling like quick monsoons, destroying dry stone walls and therefore compromising vintages, but also the villages security.

Given the slowness and complexity of the Italian bureaucracy, even though local administrations and the National Park are trying to help, we’re actually literally in the hands of our winemakers.

Costs to rebuild collapsed walls are prohibitive and Heidi and three of his colleagues, helped by fours amazing ladies, created a crowdfunding campaign called Grapes & Heroes, on Indiegogo. It went live on Valentine’s Day and will close on March 25th.

#savethewalls5terre from Grapes & Heroes on Vimeo.

As any brilliant campaign, you can donate and get very interesting and smart perks, souvenirs and experiences, but you can find all the details on their page.

I really hope this is just a beta campaign and that soon other winemakers and volunteers will join!

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Silvia's Trips

Hi there! My name is Silvia and after 15 years between the Paris Opera and the Palau de les Arts in Valencia I now run a boutique hotel in Cinque Terre, deal with tourism management and blogging, sail, horse-ride, play guitar and write about my solo trips around the world. For more info about me and my travel blog check my full bio.

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