The Cinque Terre, five picturesque villages that dot a dramatic stretch of coast along the Italian Riviera, became a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1997 thanks to its unique, man-made terraced landscape. The dry stone retaining walls, which hold up the terraces on which local grape growers cultivate their vines, serve as the backbone of the Cinque Terre. These walls help prevent landslides in a particularly prone area and are fundamental in keeping the region and villages safe—but they are crumbling at an astonishing rate. Fall 2019 was particularly damaging; a string of exceptional back-to-back heavy rainstorms caused many walls to collapse, requiring urgent repair.
“At this rate, the number of walls that collapse will always be greater than those we can rebuild. What makes matters worse are the prohibitive costs involved: we are all micro-vintners,” says Riccardo Fino, winemaker and president of the Riomaggiore Vintners Association. “The Cinque Terre National Park has recognized the problem and has earmarked resources specifically for the dry stone walls. But even with those and other funds that arrive from the EU for rural development, it’s just not enough for this monumental task. The future of the Cinque Terre is in the hands of all those who are able to assist us.”
A group of expat volunteers have come up with a grassroots campaign to raise funds for a group of Cinque Terre winemakers to help offset the ever-rising costs associated with maintaining the dry stone walls that support the terraced land of their vineyards. The four Cinque Terre winemakers participating in this project are all based within the municipality of Riomaggiore: Riccardo Fino (Azienda Agricola “I Magnati”), Davide Bordone (Azienda Agricola “Bordone Davide” and Azienda Agricola “I Magnati”), Alessandro Crovara (Azienda Agricola “Cantina Crovara”) and Heydi Bonanini (Azienda Agricola “Possa”). In their vineyards alone there are some 25,400 square feet of stone walls requiring repair (equivalent to a 120-car parking lot), which is estimated to cost more than half a million euro.
A crowdfunding campaign launched on February 14, 2020 and will be open for 40 days to raise just a fraction of this cost – volunteers hope it’s just the beginning. Donors can claim perks including Cinque Terre wines and experiences ranging from hiking to working alongside winemakers on the dry stone walls. For info and to help out please see igg.me/at/grapesandheroes.