woensdag 1 februari 2012

Italy, Portovenere, Cinque Terre, and the Islands (Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto)

The Ligurian coast between Cinque Terre and Portovenere is a cultural landscape of great scenic and cultural value. The layout and disposition of the small towns and the shaping of the surrounding landscape, overcoming the disadvantages of a steep, uneven terrain, encapsulate the continuous history of human settlement in this region over the past millennium.



The eastern Ligurian Riviera between Cinque Terre and Porto Venere is a cultural site of outstanding value, representing the harmonious interaction between man and nature to produce a landscape of exceptional scenic quality that illustrates a traditional way of life that has existed for 1,000 years and continues to play an important socio-economic role in the life of the community.
The area covers some 15 km along the extreme eastern end of the Ligurian coast, between Levanto and La Spezia. It is a very jagged, steep coastline, which the work of man over the millennia has transformed into an intensively terraced landscape so as to be able to wrest from nature a few hectares of land suitable for agriculture, such as growing vines and olive trees. The human communities have adapted themselves to this seemingly rough and inhospitable nature by building compact settlements directly on the rock, with winding streets. The general use of natural stone for rooting gives these settlements a characteristic appearance. They are generally grouped round religious buildings or medieval castles.
The five villages of Cinque Terre date back to the later Middle Ages. The cultivation terraces that typify much of the Cinque Terre landscape were mainly built in the 12th century, when Saracen raids from the sea had come to an end. Starting from the north, the first is the fortified centre of Monterosso al Mare, on the top of St Christopher's hill, which first played an important role in the 7th century, during the Lombard invasions. After being disputed over by different noble families during the Middle Ages, it threw in its lot with the Republic of Genoa. It is a coastal town in a valley, its most prominent features being the church of St John, built in 1244, with its bell tower, originally an isolated watchtower, the ruins of the old castle, and the 17th-century Capuchin monastery that dominates the town.
Vernazza was founded in 1000 by people living on the Reggio hills. It became part of the Republic of Genoa in 1276. The houses are built along the Vernazza stream and up the slopes of the rocky spur that hides the village from those approaching it by sea. Narrow streets run down to the main street, which opens out into a small square looking out over the sea. Here the church of St Margaret of Antioch is a typical example of Ligurian Gothic. Corniglia is the only one of the villages built not on the coast itself but on a high promontory. It is dominated by the church of St Peter (1334). Further south, Manarola is a small hamlet established in the 12th century by people coming down from the mountain village of Volastra. Its houses are ranged in part on a rocky spur running down towards the sea and partly along the Grappa stream. A group of religious buildings are all 14th-century. The most southerly village is Riomaggiore, another medieval foundation. Its houses line the narrow valley of the Maggiore stream (also now covered). The village is dominated by the church of St John the Baptist (1340) and the castle, construction of which began in 1260.
Portovenere is an important cultural centre. Among the remains there are those of a large Roman villa on the coast at Varignano and a Benedictine monasterywith a fine proto-Romanesque church dedicated to St Peter, on the Arpaia rocky promontory. In the town below the castle there is a second church, with both Romanesque and Gothic elements, dedicated to St Lawrence. The town, a Roman foundation, Portus Veneris, was occupied by the Genoese in 1113. It is compact in form, culminating in the Doria castle (12th-16th centuries), which dominates the settlement and is a historical palimpsest, with many traces of its medieval predecessor. Off the coast at Portovenere are the three islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto, noteworthy not only for their natural beauty but also for the many remains of early monastic establishments that they contain
The flora and fauna of the area are of interest. The natural garrigue and maquis vegetation survives intact in the higher parts of the steep ridge. They intermingle with one another in areas of abandoned cultivation terraces, providing a flora of exceptional quality. The nature of the terrain and the vegetation provides food and shelter for a wide range of insect and animal species.




Historical Description

The area that is the subject of this nomination covers some 15km along the extreme eastern end of the Ligmian coast, between Levanto and La Spezia. It is a very jagged, steep coastline, which the work of human beings over millennia has transformed into an intensively terraced landscape so as to be able to wrest from nature a few hectares of land suitable for agriculture, such as growing vines and olive trees.
The human communities have adapted themselves to this seemingly rough and inhospitable nature by building compact settlements directly on the rock, with winding streets. The general use of natural stone for rooting gives these settlements a characteristic appearance. They are generally grouped round religious buildings or medieval castles. Their small harbours provide shelter for the boats used for the other traditional activity, fishing.
The five villages of Cinque Terre (the name of its famous wines, which received an appellation controllé in 1973, but were given this name as early at the 15th century) date back to the later Middle Ages; there are resemblances between them, but they also have their own socio-economic characteristics. The cultivation terraces that typify much of the Cinque Terre landscape, some of them extending as much as 2km in length, were mostly built in the 12th century, when Saracen raids from the sea had come to an end. The drystone wails are most often carefully constructed of sandstone blocks, bonded together with beach pebbles. It is estimated that 130m3 of walls per hectare of vineyard and 30-300m3 per hectare of olive grove are now in need of urgent reconstruction.
Starting from the north, the first of the Cinque Terre is the fortified centre of Monterosso al Mare, on the top of St Christopher's hill, which first played an important role in the 7th century, during the Lombard invasions. After being disputed over by different noble families during the Middle Ages, it threw in its lot with the Republic of Genoa. It is a coastal town in a valley, its most prominent features being the church of St John, built in 1244, with its bell-tower, originally an isolated watch-tower, the ruins of the old castle, and the 17th Capuchin monastery which dominates the town.
Next comes Vemazza, founded in 1000 by people living on the Reggio hills. It became part of the Republic of Genoa in 1276. The houses are built along the Vemazza stream (now culverted) and up the slopes of the rocky spur that hides the village from those approaching it by sea. Narrow streets run down to the main street, which opens out into a small square looking out over the sea. Here the church of St Margaret of Antioch is a typical example of Ligmian Gothic.
Comiglia is the only one of the villages of Cinque Terre that is built not on the coast itself but on a high promontory. It is dominated by the church of St Peter, built in 1334.
Further south, Manarola is a small hamlet established in the 12th century by people coming down from the mountain village of Volastra. Its houses are ranged in part on a rocky spur running down towards the sea and partly along the (now culverted) Grappa stream. A group of religious buildings - the church of St John the Baptist, the freestanding bell-tower, and an oratory - are all of 14th century date.
The most southerly of the villages is Riomaggiore, another medieval foundation. Its houses line the narrow valley of the Maggiore stream (also now covered). The village is dominated by the church of St John the Baptist (1340) and the castle, construction of which began in 1260.
Portovenere is an important cultural centre. Among the remains to be found there are those of a large patrician Roman villa on the coast at Varignano and a Benedictine monastic establishment with a fine proto- Romanesque church dedicated to St Peter, on the Arpaia rocky promontory, which was later surrounded by a Gothic construction. In the town, below the Castle there is a second church, with both Romanesque and Gothic elements, dedicated to St Lawrence.
The town is a Roman foundation, Portus Veneris. It was occupied by the Genoese in 1113. It is compact in form, giving the appearance of a fortified town, culminating in the Doria castle (early 12th-16th centuries), which dominates the settlement and is an historical palimpsest, with many traces of its medieval predecessor.
Off the coast at Portovenere are the three islands of Palmaria, Tine, and Tinetto, which are noteworthy not only for their natural beauty but also for the many remains of early monastic establishments that they contain. Pahnaria and Tino have a strategic military function because of their proximity to the NATO base at La Spezia across the gulf of the same name. Because of the restricted access (Tine may only be visited once a year) their natural environments are especially well protected.
One final point should be noted. This landscape has attracted many writers and musicians, among them the English Romantic poets Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron, the French novelist George Sand, and the German composer Richard Wagner, as well as Italian artists and writers.
The area was almost inaccessible, except by sea, until the Genoa-La Spezia railway was built in the 1870s passing through all the villages and Portovenere. This coincided with the building of the Arsenal at La Spezia, which provided alternative employment for the local people. From this time onwards there was a gradual change in the socio-economic basis of life in the Cinque Terre and Portovenere.
The flora and fauna of the nominated area is of interest. The natural garrigue and maquis vegetation survives intact in the higher parts of the steep ridge. They intermingle with one another in areas of abandoned cultivation terraces, providing a flora of exceptional quality. The nature of the terrain and of the vegetation provide food and shelter for a wide range of insect and animal species.


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