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Tourists Could Be Fined up to 2,500 Euro for Wearing Sandals in Cinque Terre

March 07, 2019
3 min read
Tourists Could Be Fined up to 2,500 Euro for Wearing Sandals in Cinque Terre
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Planning a trip to Italy's Cinque Terre? Make sure to pack appropriate footwear.

Starting this summer, local authorities will start handing out fines ranging from €50 to €2,500 (that's about $57 to $2,830 at the current exchange rate) to people caught wearing flip-flops, sandals or pumps within the Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre, a UNESCO World Heritage site on the Ligurian coast. The five picturesque towns — Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore — are famous for their colorful houses built atop rocky cliffs overlooking the sea.

So what's all the fuss about flip-flops?

The Cinque Terre have become increasingly over-run by tourists ill equipped to hike the rocky, mountainous trails that connect the five villages, leading to some precarious situations. There are 48 hiking trails with various levels of difficulty and durations ranging from 15 minutes to more than three hours. Historically, these were the only roads connecting the towns, whose residents had no choice but to walk.

According to the Telegraph, volunteers from the Italian Alpine Club are tasked with rescuing hapless tourists who get stuck on the trails, but La Repubblica reported that, over the last few years, there has been an increase in the number of helicopter rescue missions conducted by firefighters who come to the aid of people who aren't adequately equipped with the proper shoes — and Italians, whose tax money is put toward such public services, are tired of paying for tourists' stupid mistakes.

Vernazza, one of the towns that make up the Cinque Terre. Photo by Maksim Shutov on Unsplash.
Vernazza, one of the towns that make up the Cinque Terre. Photo by Maksim Shutov on Unsplash.

"The fundamental problem is that too many people think they're at the seaside and so they can go around in flip-flops as if they're in Riccione, but this — even if it's facing the sea — is a real mountain with all of its hidden dangers," Patrizio Scarpellini, the park's director, told La Repubblica.

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Scarpellini and his colleagues are bracing for a massive influx of tourists this year, as cruise ship passengers disembarking at the nearby port of La Spezia are expected to number 750,000, up from 450,000 passengers last year.

The Cinque Terre already restricts the number of people who can visit the national park each day and anyone who wants access must purchase a Cinque Terre Card, which costs €7.50 ($8.50) for one day or €14.50 ($16.40) for two days.

The park plans to begin with an informational campaign through the use of brochures and posters, but also might require tourists who purchase admission to the park online to confirm that they understand that they'll be denied entry to the park without adequate shoes. From there, they'll start issuing fines.

"Along with those who control the trails, forest rangers, under the guidance of Lt. Col. Silvia Olivari, will be tasked with informing visitors in a first phase," Luca Natale, a spokesperson for the Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre, told TPG. "Then the fines will be levied."