People, Travel

Italian Town Limits Visitors to Help Protect Footpaths

Italian Town Limits Visitors to Help Protect FootpathsItalian Town Limits Visitors to Help Protect Footpaths

In an effort to stem the tide of tourists flooding the Cinque Terre, Italian officials are going to cap the number of visitors to the region, beginning this summer.

The small villages on the Italian Riviera date back to the 14th century and were not designed with the infrastructure capable of handling today’s mass tourism, Travel Pulse reported.

The UNESCO-protected villages, located between the Italian cities of Genoa and La Spezia, include Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. These cities are connected by footpaths that line the rugged coastline, paths that were built hundreds of years ago. Maintaining safety and preventing soil erosion along the paths are of the utmost importance to park authorities.

The influx of visitors is most damaging to the footpaths that connect each village, but the towns are also feeling the squeeze of the estimated 2.5 million tourists who visit the region each year.

The Guardian reports that cruise ships docking nearby have overwhelmed the destination.

Around 15 years ago, the destination was a hole in the wall. This year, the park will limit the number to just 1.5 million – which is still a large number.

According to Italian newspaper La Repubblica, starting this summer, an online ticketing system will be set up and weather and trail conditions on the pathways that connect the five towns will determine how many tickets are allowed each day.    

“We will certainly be criticized for this, but for us it is a question of survival,” Vittorio Alessandro, a representative for the Cinque Terre National Park, told la Repubblica newspaper.

In order to streamline the system for visitors, park officials are working on developing an app that would provide live updates to visitors and also a dedicated tourist train.

Visitors are already required to purchase a Cinque Terre Card to access the paths or the Cinque Terre Card Treno (train) to use the train that runs between the villages. These cards can be purchased at any of the welcome centers in the region.