A centuries-old historyThe terrace system has consisted of stones placed on the ground since 1000. Nothing was imported. The stones composing the walls are mainly made of sandstone, found on the spot and broken only if they are too big. The few soil available is carefully sifted and collected on the terraces, over a layer of underground vegetation in order to make the ground richer. Such a system of soil levelling, besides making it possible to obtain narrow stripes of cultivable lands, it also allowed to regulate the hydrogeological flows and the natural course of the meteoric water.
Over the centuries, the terraced area achieved the widest surface of 2,000 hectares, and it has covered a coastal belt up to an altitude of 450-500 m above sea level, sometimes beginning a few meters far from the shore. Despite the large sections turned into terraces in the Cinque Terre, the working conditions of the farmers are extremely hard, also because of the difficulties in mechanizing the agricultural work. Grapevine, olive trees and citrus trees are the main cultivations in this area, with a marked prevalence of the grapevine cultivation, farmed according to the ancient knowledges and with very few changes compared with the technological innovations that dominate the agricultural sectors in other places of Italy.
Such a majestic work, which shaped the vertical slopes making them become tiny plots of land each supported by a dry-stone wall, risk to be abandoned. Such a system, if not continuously maintained, undergoes a fast and sometimes irreversible decline.
To avoid this, since its establishment, the Cinque Terre National Park has launched a thick network of interventions to safeguard this historical-cultural testimony.
(photo by: Archivio Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre)