That is what Monterosso is being called, and for good reason. In just six months the town and its people have dug themselves out of the mud, repaired the town’s damaged utility services and reopened in time for the upcoming tourist season. A miraculous feat that is to be applauded.
On October 25th of last year, I found a photo of Monterosso posted on Facebook. This picture wasn’t of pastel buildings against a backdrop of crystal blue waters; there were no smiling faces. Glaring back at me was a pile of debris grotesquely wrapped around buildings and filling the streets.
If those photographs brought me to tears, how much more wounded were the people of Monterosso? It felt inconceivable. Destroyed. Ruined beyond repair. Abandon. Disastro. These words flew around the internet during those first days and weeks. What was to happen? Who would help? Where would the money be found?
Where do you start when so much has been lost? The people along with emergency workers began by simply putting one foot in front of the other. Rebuild Monterosso was formed to bring attention to the situation and raise money for restoration. Slowly, the town and the spirit of the people were raised from the mud and muck.
A realization was made as the work continued. Monterosso was more than a tourist destination. This was a place of history, traditional products, hidden trails and a tenacious spirit. Awareness grew, especially with the young, that this was an opportunity to not just repair but improve and protect the uniqueness of the town and the traditions of the past. The people were at a crossroad and they chose to strengthen the character, deepen the traditions and refuse to lose their identity among the crowds of visitors.
A goal was made, the town vowed to be open and ready for the tourist season by Easter. This was a bold, almost reckless decision as the date was less than six months after the flooding. The to do list remained daunting as the days drew closer. Vacations were abandoned and there was no down time to rest. The people did not waver. Determined, they worked day and night to make good on their promise. Tirelessly and without thought of themselves they succeeded.
Now the people of Monterosso wait for us. For the shops and restaurants to fill with visitors. For people to drag their luggage off the trains and down the cobblestone streets. The attitude of the town is one of amazing optimism. The kind that can only be found in people who had the courage to lift themselves up off the muddy ground, to press forward past the fear and the unknown. People that rekindled their pride and their faith in each other and in their village. People that accomplished the impossible.
The people of Monterosso.
Disaster Relief Information can be found here at Rebuild Monterosso. Help is still needed!
For more information on the current situation, these two blogs are an excellent insight:
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Copyright 2012 Andi Brown, Once in a Lifetime Travel
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