Save Vernazza’s projects transform Vernazza’s devastating disaster into an opportunity to create a better future for Vernazza’s residents, territory and visitors.

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Save Vernazza’s Projects

We are passionate about our work! Please join us on one of our activities and/or make a donation today.

“Every civilization is formed not merely by its own achievements but by what it has inherited from the past. If these things are destroyed, we have lost a part of our past, and we shall be the poorer for it.” Ronald Balfour, The Monuments Men

The Renaissance of Vernazza Project: Safety, simplicity and beauty to restore Vernazza’s public spaces

This rendering shows Piazza Marconi when the project is completed


The “Renaissance of Vernazza” project designed by architects Lord Richard Rogers and Ernesto Bartolini will restore Vernazza’s public spaces with new paving, landscape design, street furniture and energy efficient lighting.  The goal is to increase safety, simplicity and beauty for residents and visitors.  We are thrilled to announce that work is set to begin in Piazza Marconi in November 2014.

Richard Rogers generously donated the Preliminary Project to Vernazza, a place he and his family have frequently called home over the past 50 years.  Rogers is a winner of the Pritzker Prize (the Nobel of architecture) and designer of London’s Lloyd’s Building and Millennium Dome and Paris’s Centre Pompidou with Renzo Piano.

In October 2013, thanks to our donors’ generosity, Save Vernazza donated the final design plans for the “Renaissance of Vernazza” Project to the Town of Vernazza.  Construction is set to begin in November 2014 in Piazza Marconi, the main piazza overlooking the harbor, thanks to contributions from Carispezia, Fondazioni di origine bancaria associate all’Acri, Per Vernazza Futura and Save Vernazza.  Click here to see the design plans.

Save Vernazza needs your help:  donate today to rebuild Fontanavecchia (the most devastated area of Vernazza) and via Roma (Vernazza’s main street which was buried under 13 feet of mud and debris) to complete the rebirth of Vernazza.

Want to make a personalized donation with your name on a bench or tree in Vernazza?  Want to learn more? Contact Ruth Manfredi at

Key elements of the Renaissance of Vernazza Project include:

pavingPaving:  Local sandstone will pave Vernazza like a fluid stone “sculpture”, connecting the principal areas of the village in an exceptional, continuous pattern. The project makes vital corrections to the drainage system to keep Vernazza safe during heavy rains.

treeLandscape Design:  New trees will improve the public spaces’ landscape and environment.

benchStreet furniture:   Durable, simple fixed and mobile benches encourage social interaction.

lightLighting:  Energy-efficient LED lighting designed by Renzo Piano will exalt the beauty of Vernazza’s colors.


Voluntourism: “Even Paradise Needs a Gardener”


2013 was our first season of Voluntourism Excursions with Busabout and Treadright:  314 voluntourists, 36 excursions, 16 landowners, and 5 part-time jobs to help local farmers restore our fragile territory.  2014 was our second season of Voluntourism with Busabout and TreadRight:  129 participants make a difference in 18 excursions to help 16 landowners to harvest grapes, rebuild terracing and stonewalls, restore olive groves and cultivate vineyards..  Join us to work with Vernazzans to restore and preserve Vernazza. Click here to learn how.

“Our partnership with Save Vernazza has been an outstanding success in 2013. Our aim was to engage our staff and tour passengers to ensure that our donation could be multiplied through passenger contributions and the ability for them to actually contribute practically to Save Vernazza’s work.  Off the back of this success in 2013 Treadright has agreed to increase funding for 2014 which will enable us to get more staff and more passengers involved. All of which will help restore Vernazza’s beauty which our passengers have adored for over 15 years.”

Participant comments include:

–Graeme Ward, Managing Director, Busabout

“This was such a wonderful experience, and it is such a change from ordinary days traveling…knowing we can make a difference is so rewarding”

“This was an awesome experience! The food was fantastic!”

“Loved meeting Nadia! She was such an excellent host, teaching us about her land and serving us coffee and her homemade cake”

“I wish I could do this on all of the other days that I am here”

“The experience was different and fun”

“Who could have thought that we could have made such a difference in only a few hours”

“Great day, I really enjoyed meeting the local guides and landowners. Will definitely recommend others to join and spread the word!”


This sustainable tourism program, supported by Busabout and TreadRight Foundation, is the first of its kind in Vernazza and the Cinque Terre National Park. Our motto: “Even paradise needs a gardener.”
 Thank you Busabout, TreadRight and Voluntourists for making our first season a success!

People love the voluntourism experience, since it enables them to get off the beaten path and do something unique in Vernazza. Voluntourists take a trip into the heart of Vernazza with a local, bilingual guide, make a difference by working alongside landowners and share a picnic lunch of local specialties and Cinque Terre DOC wine. It offers a unique way for visitors to enter into full-immersion contact with Vernazza’s people, heritage and culture, have fun and preserve the territory (because “even paradise needs a gardener”.) Participants love the opportunity to make a difference in Vernazza while discovering their own magical Vernazza.

Landowners are equally enthusiastic: SV has helped 16 different landowners, with excursions returning 1-10 times, to harvest grapes, rebuild terracing and stonewalls (for which Vernazza and the Cinque Terre have been recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO), restore olive groves and cultivate vineyards. In Italian, the project is known as “Turisti nei Cia’n” (Vernazzan dialect for “Tourists in our Territory”).

The project is a success in helping to maintain Vernazza’s territory with a volunteer labor force. It is encouraging landowners to see the value in continuing to cultivate their land. Maintaining the territory is critical to avoid further erosion and to prevent additional landslides. Introducing tourists as volunteers has already encouraged some of the younger generation of Vernazzans to look at cultivated or abandoned land as a “fertile terrain” for building additional tourist-based businesses. Finally, the project has created part-time jobs for 5 Vernazza women as bilingual guides and cooks.

Here’s what the Save Vernazza Voluntourism Team says about the project:

Michele Lilley:
lilThe best thing about “Turisti nei Cia’n” is seeing the smiling faces of landowners and tourists while they work side by side to improve Vernazza’s future in our fragile territory. Although they don’t speak the same language, landowners and voluntourists seem eager to share the hard work and a bit of themselves and their culture.

We built walls together but we crossed divides. We broke through the tough weathered exterior of the Vernazzan farming culture and dug new ground together. We formed bonds and made memories that will last a lifetime. Proud landowners, who usually go up into the hills to escape the pervasive tourism in town, had the opportunity to share with voluntourists their land’s history, the hard work their forefathers had done to carve it out and how they farm today.

They were proud and incredulous at how hard the eager voluntourists worked and they couldn’t believe that they wanted to do more work after the day was done. The voluntourists were equally amazed by the steep hillsides, vertical terracing, dry stonewalls and just how much work it took over the centuries to cultivate Vernazza’s rugged terrain. At the end of the day, many didn’t want to go back down to the crowded piazza in town. Life’s simple pleasures and the satisfaction of helping your fellow man preserve his land and his culture was as rich an experience as they would ever have together.

The partnership with Busabout and the TreadRight Foundation proved to be an invaluable investment in the community of Vernazza. Landowners and tourists working side by side were able to open the eyes of the entire community to become living proof that sustainable tourism is possible by creating a mutually beneficial environment where we invite interested tourists into our vineyards and olive groves and share our culture and what it means to be a local in our small village of Vernazza.

Tourists were able to gain insight into Vernazza’s history and culture from locals while working towards a brighter future with them in a town that sees almost one million tourists annually. Evidence of this is the enthusiasm shared by the landowners to continue the project next season with the hope that the program can involve even more tourists over the course of a longer period of time.

Ruth Manfredi:
ruthI am so proud to be a part of this project! I have been in Vernazza since 1995 and never before worked in the territory or had a chance to really get to know so many landowners and their family properties. I have come to know and appreciate aspects of Vernazza’s cultural heritage that are impossible to know any other way. It is my pleasure to share Vernazza’s heritage with the voluntourists.

The Voluntourism excursions are hard work but always amazing: the views, meeting the people, feeling connected to the earth, giving back, the lunch! I believe that one of the most important aspects of the project is teaching about Vernazza and its fragile territory to not only the participants but all of their friends and families back home in Australia, Europe or the USA via our Facebook postings.

Our success is thanks to the team: the incredible women of Save Vernazza, the hardworking Vernazza landowners and the help and support of Tracey and Dax at Busabout. We look forward to building on our success and continuing to share the fun!

Irene Di Martino:
For me it has been an incredible experience! The project gave me the opportunity to introduce my town and her traditions to the voluntourists but also to be able to meet beautiful people who made me understand how important this project really is. I learned many things about all aspects of local agriculture and I hope that this adventure can continue next year!






Sue Jane:
It was an amazing experience. Every time I finished tired from the work but elated from the day, enthused by the tourists, impressed by their hard work and ever more so as so many were Australian and New Zealanders. With only a morning together, I could not help myself from telling them how fantastic they had been and be rewarded with their enthusiasm and their satisfaction for having contributed so much to help us rebuild the territory around Vernazza. They felt like it was a unique experience, for many it was the highlight of their trip and I felt enormously proud to be a part of it. The voluntourists’ energy was infectious and spurred me to see the vast potential in the whole project.




Wine & Food Discovery 2014

In 2014, Save Vernazza launched “Wine & Food Discovery” to give travelers the opportunity to “TASTE OUR TERRITORY” and highlight the importance of winemaking to landscape preservation.  With a glass of wine in hand, on Gianni Franzi’s Deck in Vernazza, surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea and an amazing landscape, local wine producers shared their knowledge and personal stories about winemaking, and also about their role in preserving our beautiful, fragile territory.

The 2014 season was a success.  Our goals were to allow travelers to:

MEET local wine producers and a local bilingual host

LEARN about our unique winemaking traditions and territory

TASTE Cinque Terre DOC wine and Sciacchetrà while enjoying delicious, local food

Save Vernazza is NOT continuing the program in 2015.

We encourage all travelers to help us preserve our territory:  Drink Cinque Terre wines and Sciacchetrà!  Please support the following Wine Producers:

Azienda Agricola Cheo, Vernazza

Azienda Agricola Albana La Torre, La Spezia

Azienda Agricola Forlini Cappellini, Manarola

Cantina Sassarini, Monterosso

La Polenza, Corniglia

Prima Terra, Riomaggiore

Volunteer Emergency Management Corps

Save Vernazza continues to support the incredible volunteers of the Vernazza Emergency Management Corp in their work to maintain public safety and implement the Disaster Preparedness Plan to keep residents and travelers safe.

Building Stonewalls: Restore Chiappa Valley and prevent landslides

Giuliano Basso






Save Vernazza, Busabout and TreadRight Foundation have contributed to the project to build five dry stonewalls and restore the surrounding land in the Chiappa Valley (above the train station) which was completely destroyed by flooding and landslides. This project creates security for the town since the finished walls minimize the threat of additional landslides.

Local artisan Giuliano Basso, known for his expertise in constructing traditional dry stonewalls, led the hardworking wall building team from January through October 2013. Giuliano is also the owner of top-rated B&B Camere Giuliano.