“Plogging” has been introduced to the Cinque Terre this season in an effort to clean up the plastic trash along the trails. “Plogging” is an idea started in Sweden with happy joggers/hikers picking up trash as they jog along…. So the National Park of the Cinque Terre has included it in their “Vivi il Parco” ( Live the Park) project arming potential hikers with gloves and bags inviting them to pick up the rubbish on their way through. On their return they will be rewarded with a series of gadgets, from the Park – puppets, key rings, T-shirts, hats and I hope NO PLASTIC!?
The “plogging” appears to only apply to the high trails, which are free and lovely to do although requiring more time and a little more energy. My favourite is from San Bernardino via Corniglia to Manarola and for a change I sometimes hike to Vernazza via the Madonna del Reggio. The logic is also to encourage tourists to move away from the coastal trails as daily people traffic on these trails between Corniglia-Vernazza-Monterosso is already intense.
The Rainbow Warrior of Greenpeace toured along the Ligurian coastline last year, taking samples and identified an alarmingly high rate of plastic and microplastics at sea. Not a surprise really as it seems to be an issue worldwide and the National Park has made other suggestions to alleviate the problem of plastic – like the ban on the sale of water in plastic bottles, much talked about but so far not implemented.
And with the recent long weekend holidays and Summer temperatures the crowds literally poured into the Cinque Terre. An estimate of 5million visitors on the 30th April and a maximum of 33 coach buses parked above Manarola! The photos from local newspapers show the bedlam at the railways stations and ferry stops.
The Park and the Liguria Region hope to increase the capacity of the trains and ferries as they are reluctant to put a limit on numbers of tourists. The Local Councillor responsible for Tourism interview on Tv that evening said the villages are unable to cope with the crowds and preferred to spend resources on restoring the trails. He hoped for (the elusive) “Sustainable Tourism that would keep residents and tourists happy, provide sufficient economic returns to enterprises in the area without damage to the territory.” After all Manarola has only 250 residents, Vernazza around 500 and the entire 5 villages a total of 4,500, who become insignificant on days of a 5 million influx!
So the battle continues and we shall see what the outcome may be. Venice introduced turnstiles to limit the numbers as a first step a week ago. I have suggested we need a weekly rest day at least, like the major art Galleries do……
In the meantime knowing the other villages would be overflowing, I left early for the Marina at Corniglia for my first swim of the season. Beautifully quiet, freezing water or should I say energizing water for just a quick dip, and very restful. Yachts and fishing boats coasting past and only the sound of waves lapping the new Marina, until the afternoon attracted a few more locals.
But sssshhh, don’t spread the word as I’d like it to stay that way for the entire Summer!
Will keep you posted on how well the ‘ploggers plog!’