If you’re planning a visit to Italy’s Cinque Terre, it’s a good idea to pack sensible hiking shoes. Tourists who walk the steep, hilly terrain that connects the five villages are prohibited from wearing flip-flops, sandals and pumps and could potentially face fines of up to €2500 ($2824) if they break the rules.
Cinque Terre is one of Italy’s most picturesque and visited spots. The region is made up of five pastel-hued villages, connected by rolling, hiking trails that were designated a Unesco site in 1999. Most visitors will travel from village to village by foot but aren’t usually aware that some of the trails cross steep, mountain terrain. Quite often they’re unprepared for arduous climbs with footwear more suited to the beach and this can result in accidents and injuries and SOS calls to mountain rescue teams. The issue has become so common that it’s prompted authorities to issue a ban on flip-flops, pumps and other sandals along the 120km of Cinque Terre trails.
“The problem is that people come here thinking they are at the seaside, but the paths above the villages are like mountain trails,” Patrizio Scarpellini, head of the Cinque Terre National Park, told the Telegraph. “First we will introduce [an] information campaign, then we’ll start issuing fines.”
The ban will come into play on 1 April. Fines start at €50 ($56) and can rise to €2500 ($2824), depending on how much of an “inconvenience and expense they inflict on the authorities.” Mountain rescue teams, who are made up of volunteers from the Italian Alpine Club, will first launch an awareness campaign to ensure visitors arrive better prepared. Flyers and posters will be distributed and visitors will receive a warning when they purchase a Cinque Terre card (which provides access to park buses and paths) online.
The move comes as Cinque Terre prepares for its busy tourist season in April. This year, 750,000 cruise ship passengers are projected to visit, compared to 2018’s 450,000.