Devastating, Lethal Floods in Cinque Terre, 2011
Floods on October 25, 2011 Devastated Cinque Terre and other Riviera sites

by David Downie

Floods in the Cinque Terre: October 25, 2011

Last week’s deadly flash-flooding in parts of Liguria and northern Tuscany have left the region in a state of shock. Many villages—notably Monterosso and Vernazza—will be digging themselves out of the mud for some time to come.

Fall storms and flooding are not new to the Italian Riviera. The topography and climate contribute to this cyclical problem: steep mountains facing the Mediterranean catch incoming storms. Violent cloudbursts and downpours fill ravines and dry creek beds, overflowing their banks and carrying with them trees, boulders and mud. In a matter of hours such storms can dump as much rain as the region usually gets in a period of many months.

History teaches us much about flooding, damage and how towns and villages can bounce back.

Here are images from the devastation caused by the flash floods of October 5, 1995. That time around the worst-hit town was Santa Margherita Ligure, near Portofino:

Genoa has been damaged by flooding countless times over the centuries. One particularly bad storm hit the region’s capital in 1970, lasting two days, October 7 and 8. Here is some rare color footage of the event:

For now you’re better off delaying any trekking trip to the Cinque Terre. But most of the rest of Liguria was not affected, and the weather has gone back to being pleasant and mild. Check our weather page for up-to-the-minute details on the weather in Liguria.

The long-term positive news is, Liguria always bounces back from floods and other heavy weather events. Take a look at Santa Margherita today, for instance, and there is no trace of the 1995 catastrophe.

The monument to Christopher Columbus in Santa Margherita Ligure

Ditto Genoa, which suffered bad flooding most recently in both 2009 and 2010.

genoa, old town, shopping street

Here’s to hoping the Cinque Terre and the many other towns and villages of southeastern Liguria and northern Tuscany can return to normal soon.

Devastating, Lethal Floods in Cinque Terre, 2011 originally appeared on Oct 30, 2011, updated: Jun 29, 2020 © David Downie

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  1. I have enjoyed walking Vernazza- Monterosso a few times in the past month and your perspective on Ligurian floods and subsequent recovery good news. Also your comment that besides C.T. walking should be OK elsewhere allows me to make some plans for the next week or so. Thanks for your good work.

    FRANK VOSO · Oct 30, 02:14 PM · #

  2. Frank—you’re welcome. I hope you have a great time in Liguria and find good weather!

    David Downie · Nov 2, 05:50 AM · #

  3. I just finalized plans and purchased my airfare for a trip to Rome, Florence and Monterosso for mid April 2012. Any suggestions as far as monitoring the progress in the area to determine if I should change my plans and travel somewhere else rather than the Cinque Terre. Of all the places in Italy, the Cinque Terre is the place I was most excited about experiencing and from all that I have read about it, I was already in love with the area. Thanks for any suggestions.

    Lori Lewis · Nov 6, 04:12 PM · #

  4. Hi Lori,
    With luck by April the situation will have returned to normal. In reality, with climate change, anything can happen anywhere! Please check the weather page on this website for up-to-the-minute reports. You can click on the link within the weather chart for the latest. Also, call your hotel or b&b, and check with the Parco Nazionale Cinque Terre (the link is on this site, accompanying the various articles on the Cinque Terre). They’re an excellent resource and there’s always someone there who speaks English. Buon viaggio!

    David Downie · Nov 8, 11:34 AM · #

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