The Cinque Terre National Park is a protected area inducted as Italy’s first national park in 1999. Located in the province of La Spezia, Liguria, northern Italy, it is the smallest national park in Italy at 4,300 acres, but also the densest with 5,000 permanent inhabitants among the five towns. In addition to the territory of the towns of Cinque Terre (Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare), the Cinque Terre National Park encompasses parts of the communes of Levanto (Punta Mesco) and La Spezia (Campiglia Sunsets). Cinque Terre was included as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.
The collection of five cliff-side towns on the Ligurian Coast linked by a series of trails highlights a delicate relationship between man and the environment. As modification of the landscape has been so vital for the area’s development and tourist industry, the National Park is an essential tool in preserving and maintaining the natural landscape while promoting sustainable tourism that vital to the economic success of Cinque Terre. To achieve its objectives, the Park Organization encourages the development of responsible tourism, able therefore to invest in the identity of the places and the territory's products, and thus save its immense heritage of terracing, now endangered.
The Cinque Terre (Italian pronunciation: [ˌtʃinkwe ˈtɛrːe]) is a rugged portion of coast on the Italian Riviera. It is in the Liguria region of Italy, to the west of the city of La Spezia. "The Five Lands" is composed of five villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The coastline, the five villages, and the surrounding hillsides are all part of the Cinque Terre National Park and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Over the centuries, people have carefully built terraces on the rugged, steep landscape right up to the cliffs that overlook the sea. Part of its charm is the lack of visible corporate development. Paths, trains and boats connect the villages, and cars cannot reach them from the outside. The Cinque Terre area is a very popular tourist destination.
The villages of the Cinque Terre were severely affected by torrential rains which caused floods and mudslides on October 25, 2011. Nine people have been confirmed killed by the floods, and damage to the villages, particularly Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare, was extensive.