Monterosso al Mare Walking Tour - Cinque Terre
Welcome to Monterosso al Mare, the largest of the five villages that make up the Cinque Terre along the Italian Riviera. *SIDE NOTE - If you click the gear icon below, you can translate the captions into any language. You can also change the font size and color. Monterosso al Mare, which translates to "Red Mountain by the Sea," is located at the center of a small natural gulf in the northern Italian province of La Spezia. In 2011, torrential rain caused flooding that rushed down the mountain sides and into the town like a speeding train.
This square was named after Sandro Usai, a 39 year old volunteer rescue worker, who gave his life trying to save others during the flood. The floods carried with it tons of mud and debris that buried the towns of Cinque Terre up to 12 feet deep. The floods devastated the coastal towns causing millions in damage and took the lives of 13 people. It took months to dig out the mud and even longer to restore all the buildings. The town of Monterosso is divided up into two distinct parts; the old town and the new town, which are joined by a tunnel. We are now walking down Via Roma in the old part of town.
While the economy used to be based on fishing and agriculture, today it is centered around tourism, thanks in large part to Rick Steves. Rick visited Cinque Terre for the first time in 1979 and he has returned almost every year since. Tourist had been visiting the Cinque Terre long before Rick Steves of course, thanks to a railroad line built in 1870 that joined the Cinque Terre with the outside world. Here we are facing the Oratory of S. Maria di Porto Salvo, also known as the Confraternity of Oration and Death. We will come back and step inside the church shortly.
Construction of the church began in the 1282 and ended in 1307. Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807-1882) was the Italian general and war hero who contributed to the unification of Italy in 1861. He was admired all over the world. Abraham Lincoln even offered Garibaldi a union command in the American Civil War. Garibaldi declined the position because President Lincoln would not agree to give Garibaldi supreme command over the Federal troops.
While not as popular as pizzerias, Italy also has a large number of rotisserie chicken restaurants. My favorite is Apollo 13! Each chicken also comes covered in potato wedges that have been sitting under the rotisserie, getting marinated by the chicken. This building houses the municipal offices of Monterosso. Hello Mr. Mayor!
Monterosso began as a small settlement in the 9th-century but there is evidence of an earlier settlement which was destroyed in 643 AD. At the time, the Saracen pirates were a major threat to the coastline so many inhabitants were still living in the hills away from the sea. This is a statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi. Due to the threat of pirates, watch towers were built all along the coast of Italy. The bell tower of the church ahead is one of the original watch towers.
Original watch tower built in the thirteenth century by the Republic of Genoa. The church was heavily damaged during the 2011 flood and has undergone several restoration phases. Off to the right you can see the tunnel that leads over to the new side of town. Except for Corniglia, the Cinque Terre villages are built in a ravine between two hills, much like the towns along the Amalfi Coast. Just like Positano, and many others, Monterosso has a stream of mountain runoff that ends at the local beach and drains into the sea. Over the years, Monterosso and the other four towns of the Cinque Terre were fought over constantly by Genova and Pisa.
Finally, in 1254, Monterosso came under the domain of the government of Genoa. Just up ahead is the beginning of the trail which leads hikers on to Vernazza. On top of the hill at the far end of the beach is the Convent of the Capuchin Friars. Next, we will walk out near the breakwater along the rocky point below the Aurora Tower. Time to take off my shoes! Right now we are walking just below the Aurora Tower which was built in the 16th century. Here come the tourists! Every tourists needs a new hat from Monterosso! Time to put my shoes back on. :)
Next we will take hike up to the top of the hill to the Convent of the Capuchin Friars. You will see the other side of this tunnel at minute 46 of this video. At the top of this hill are the convent and the town cemetry. The cemetery was built on the site of an ancient castle that dates back to the time of the first settlement in 623 AD. Since the early 1800's, a decree has stated that the town cemeteries had to be placed outside of town due to health risks.
Each village cemetery of the Cinque Terre offer beautiful views and are worth a visit. Here you will see a statue of St. Francis of Assisi petting a wolf and looking out over Monterosso. St. Francis was well known for his love of the natural world, including animals.
There is a story about St. Francis that tells how a large wolf, that had terrorized the locals of Gubbio, ran up to St. Francis and lay gently at his feet. The wolf never attacked the people of Gubbio again. This land was donated to the Capuchin Friars in 1618 by the Municipality of Monterosso. Four years later, they had completed their convent and adjacent church. We're almost there! The walls surrounding this area recently collapsed and they are in the process of rebuilding. Antico Castrum - Cemetery I'm sorry, but the paths to the right looked closed and I did not realize there was much more to be seen including scenic views looking out over the new town.
If you go back to the drone intro to this video, you will see people walking around the other side of this cemetery. If you are enjoying this video, please be sure to click the LIKE button for me. This really helps out my channel. Also, if you are not already a subscriber, please consider subscribing and clicking on the bell icon so you never miss a new video. This would also help my channel and would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
This trail to the right leads down to the waterfront but misses a lot of interesting views to be had below. While this is mainly a pedestrian tunnel, it is also used by local vehicles. While most visitors will get here by train, for those traveling by car, there is a large parking lot just up ahead behind the orange umbrellas. I was able to easily find a parking spot there.
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