A long history
The system of terraces was built, from the year one thousand, sunny stones and earth. Nothing was imported. The material forming the walls is mostly sandstone, excavated on site and is only broken if too big. The little land available on site has been carefully sifted and stored in the terraces, on top of a layer of vegetation buried in order to make the soil richer. Such a system of leveling of the soil, in addition to allowing to obtain narrow strips of arable land, as defined in the use dialect Cian, has allowed for years to regulate the flows hydrogeological and the natural course of stormwater.
The terraced area over the centuries has reached the maximum area of about 2,000 hectares, and has affected a coastal strip to a height of 450-500 meters above sea level, sometimes starting from a few meters from the shore. Despite vast portions affected by the terraced arrangement put in place in the Cinque Terre, the working conditions to which they were subjected the farmers of the area have been very tough, partly because of the difficult, and often impossible to farm mechanization. The grapes, olives and citrus fruits, the main crops of the area in question, with a prevalence of viticulture, were grown with the ancient wisdom of centuries ago, with very few changes from the technological innovations that have instead dominated agricultural sectors other areas of Italy.
This monumental work of man, which has shaped the verticality of the slopes in a huge number of small and tiny plots of land each supported by a dry stone wall, is today threatened by abandonment. A system such as this, unless it is continually kept in efficiency and maintained, undergoes rapid degradation, often irreversible. To counter this decline in the National Park of Cinque Terre, since its foundation, it has launched a network of interventions aimed at the protection and preservation of this cultural and historical heritage.
(by courtesy of: Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre)