Yana Pietras had been visiting the beautiful Cinque Terre villages for 12 years and after arriving in Florence for a semester abroad she understood there was much curiosity amongst the many international students regarding what happened on October 25th. Yana did her best to communicate news and discovered that many students wanted to help but didn’t know exactly how to do so.

S5T started off with the idea of selling buttons bearing the number “5” which represents the 5 towns in Cinque Terre. It is the hope of S5T that many more student oriented events and volunteering will bloom from the initial ideas.

Visit S5T on Facebook and tell the student in your life about this new forum for students to share ideas about possible ways to get involved in rebuilding & restoring the Cinque Terre.

Below is an essay written by Yana Pietra for her application to the College of Design at the University of Minnesota.

QUESTION: What interests you most in your life or in the world?

Built atop the cliffs along the Mediterranean Sea in northern Italy is a small town called Vernazza. Vernazza is one of the five towns found in Cinque Terre. Its buildings are simple, stacked vertically on the cliffs and colored in bright reds, pinks and yellows.

Every breath is filled with the air from the sea. The warmth of the sun sweeps through the main piazza over and around big colorful umbrellas. I’m drawn to Vernazza’s beauty and character. The people of the town are full of vitality, personality and confidence. The town would be completely different without each of the individuals within it. Each is vital to how that community functions.

A bell tower rings at every half-hour. The sound is seemingly unnoticed by the locals, but they strictly obey time. Each day, the locals follow the same routine: wake up early for work, then spend the remaining hours relaxing by the beach with their family and friends. They are very dedicated to their work and to their relationships with each other.

Every time I am in Vernazza I am content and relaxed but always have a sense of longing. I yearn to be a part of this lifestyle. I cry when my parents and I leave. Even when I’m not there, the inhabitants carry on without me, obeying and ignoring the sound of the bell tower. Vernazza, Italy is one of the most interesting places in the world. Here is where I realize my passion for people and time.

Does time stop once I leave Vernazza? Does the bell tower stop ringing? Does the town wait for me to return each year to continue on? Vernazza seems magical in this way. It is a tiny town filled with strong personalities and a culture that goes beyond time… and yet, in some way, it includes me.