We are excited to be officially counting down the days to our first ConservationVIP® trip to Cinque Terre, Italy, in October 2022!
We thought you might enjoy a refresh on how our Cinque Terre conservation volunteer trip came to fruition from ConservationVIP® Program Manager, Carol Clark.
Consisting of medieval villages overlooking the Mediterranean Sea between rocky reliefs and cliffs are five (Cinque) lands (Terre): Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Situated within the World Heritage designated areas, these enchanting landscapes are the result of more than a thousand years of difficult, back-breaking agricultural work involving manmade drystone wall terraces, vineyards, olive, and citrus groves. These villages stood as outposts against invaders. All these villages are specifically mentioned in the designation as having significant properties.
What started as a dream and hopeful whispers is now a ConservationVIP® work project in Italy! I have been working for three years to develop meaningful, hands-on work projects in Cinque Terre, our next volunteer trip destination.
For me, it began with a passion for a place that I’ve been to and projects and community needs that I can’t get out of my head. It’s about the people, the environment, and the work projects that I believe ConservationVIP’s volunteers can assist in making a purposeful difference. It’s that feeling of accomplishment from a completed project, that bird I never saw before, the taste of local cuisine, and the connection with strangers that, while I may never see them again, remains in my memory forever. Cinque Terre has check marks next to all these requirements for a great volunteer trip and it meets our organization’s mission.
I have wanted to develop a volunteer trip to Cinque Terre (Five Lands) ever since I was there for a short visit as part of a longer tour of Italy. Cinque Terre is one of Italy’s many treasures and was designated in 1997 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is recognized as a place of worldwide importance because of its cultural and natural heritage. Why has it taken three years? In March 2020, just as another trip leader and I were days away from flying to Florence to meet with our partners to finalize the volunteer trip details, COVID-19 closed Italy and we all know what the world has been going through since. While that initial trip was postponed, it is still very much in our plans. I remained engaged with our partners and they are still excited to work with us.
At the time that our trip was delayed, I had great work projects, and I had begun to finalize details about meals, lodging, a vineyard visit (or two), a culinary demonstration, and a hike along parts of the actual Cinque Terre Trail. Most importantly, I want to link the work projects to the land, people, culture, and history. Our project worksites will be in different villages as projects are multiyear, and most villages are located within the designated UNESCO World Heritage zone. Since the area is highly regulated, we will not work on the Cinque Terre trail maintenance. Instead, we will work on lovely historic and culturally significant terraces and vineyards. These terraces consist of a succession of dry stonewalls that retain cultivable plots and walking trails, some dating back to 1000 A.D. In October 2021, another ConservationVIP® Director, Mark Hardgrove, and I were able to finally travel to Cinque Terre and Florence Italy. We met with our local guide, Giorgia Carraffa with Mandala Tours, organized the trip and the itinerary is now complete.
We will meet in Florence and visit Lucca on our way to our work project area in Riomaggiore. The volunteer project will consist of repairing terrace landscapes, rebuilding the ancient dry stonewalls, and preparing fallowed agricultural land for future plantings. These projects are essential as they will hold soil in place and protect ancient walls, vineyards, and villages.
This will be hearty labor on terraces and walls on both projects. Prepare for steep terraces and hills! I am striving to achieve an immeasurable amount of satisfaction in being part of a small community and contributing to the preservation of iconic cultural landscapes.
While much of our time is spent working, conservation volunteers will also have opportunities to explore the villages, taste the local cuisine, and walk the historic trails. Fill out the form on the Cinque Terre Notify page and we’ll tell you when the trip is available. Our partners want us, and we want you!