Cinque Terre history

Cinque Terre history – When was Cinque Terre built

Cinque Terre history – When was Cinque Terre built?

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Cinque Terre history – when was cinque terre built?

There is no tangible evidence or historical documents that can shed light on the situation of the Cinque Terre before the year one thousand

Monterosso beach – Photo by Ina Zukauskiene from our Facebook Group

The Latin origin of Manarola (Manium Arula), Corniglia (Fondo di Cornelius), Riomaggiore (Rivus Maior) and Monterosso (Mons ruber) would suggest that small towns had arisen along the ancient prehistoric coastal road layout with inns, for travelers who moved overland and for the efficient postal service of the Roman imperial era.

You can also read: 5 Curious facts you have to know about Cinque Terre

How were the Cinque Terre born?

The villages of the Cinque Terre were founded between the tenth and eleventh centuries, when the populations of the Val di Vara, due to the demographic increase, crossed the watershed of the coastal range that separated them from the sea and went to live permanently on the coast, forming the five countries.

Riomaggiore Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre history, Riomaggiore – Photo by Dante Bergamini, from the Facebook Group

The temporary attenuation of the Muslim threat, which for centuries had made the Mediterranean coasts insecure, allowed the peasant populations of the hinterland to move to the slopes facing the sea, which enjoyed a better climate, more suitable for the cultivation of some products such as vines and the olive tree.

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Cinque Terre, a story more agricultural than seafaring

The villages of the Cinque Terre were not born as seaside villages, but as agricultural villages.

Great challenge for the new inhabitants who were forced to make cultivable a territory which, by nature, was not at all suitable for agricultural practice.

Manarola Cinque Terre
The wonderful Manarola – Photo by Valeria Marani, from our Facebook Group

To take advantage of the very steep and rocky slopes, it was necessary to build a
complex system of terraces, with which narrow strips were obtained
of cultivable land, which developed from a few meters from the shore, up to 450/500 meters above sea level.

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However, living a short distance from the sea, the inhabitants of the Cinque Terre, with the passing of
generations also became excellent sailors, using the sea both as a convenient and rapid means of communication and as a source of livelihood.

Muretti a secco Liguria
Dry stone walls Liguria Like Ligurian Dry Wall, here for olive cultivation

They therefore divided their activities, between working in the countryside and going to sea, according to the seasons.

You can also read: How to visit the Cinque Terre by boat (ferry boat) Complete tutorial

The Pirate Dragut and the Barbary Pirates

Starting from the fifteenth century, even the Cinque Terre – which in the meantime had passed under the control of the Republic of Genoa – were subjected to the danger of the incursions of the Barbary Pirates who, for over three centuries, terrorized the populations of the coast.

Pirata dragut
Monument “Of The Admiral Turgut” (Dragut) – Bodrum, Turkey

From the summit of the Mesco di Monterosso promontory to the tip of Montenero in Riomaggiore, a series of fortified victories was carried out, with sighting and defense tasks, manned by the militias of the various towns.

In July 1545, the pirate Dragut attacked and deported slaves from Monterosso and Corniglia. Instead, it was rejected by Manarola, thanks to the help lent by the inhabitants of Riomaggiore.

You can also read: Where to sleep in Manarola, the best places

When did Cinque Terre became popular? Recent History

During the 19th century, the maximum demographic increase and the maximum agricultural exploitation of this area were reached, with crops linked to citrus fruits, vines and olive trees.

In the mid-1900s, the progressive depopulation of the villages of the Cinque Terre began which led the population to even halve between 1960 and 2000, with the progressive abandonment of a difficult, tiring and low-yield agriculture.

Vernazza – Photo by Piero Basso, from our Facebook Group

Today, the population of the 5 Terre is just over 4,000 inhabitants.

Thanks to a forward-looking tourism promotion campaign in Italy but above all abroad, in the last twenty years of the 1900s the Cinque Terre have become one of the most important and well-known places of world tourism, capable of welcoming millions of visitors every year.

You can also read: Where you can rent a boat in the Cinque Terre

  • Cinque Terre history – how old is cinque terre

History of the Cinque Terre – Cinque Terre history

Cinque Terre interesting facts

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