I’d consider myself to have gone on quite a few hikes back home, but none have ever been quite as difficult as the hike through Cinque Terre, or as beautiful I dare to say. On this day long hike, a few things stood out to me about Cinque Terre and it’s culture. Religion, specifically Catholicism, holds stronger prevalence in this city than any others we’ve visited, seen in symbols and buildings. Also, agriculture sustains the city in many ways, more so than some of the more industrial cities we’ve visited like Berlin and Munich.
The beginning of our hike happened to follow along the twelve stations of the Cross leading up to the church that over looks Riomaggiore. Growing up as a Catholic, I recognized different Catholic symbols throughout the hike whether it be a rosary in front of a photo of Virgin Mary or one of the stones marking a station of the Cross. Even when we reached the top of this part of the hike, the location of the church stood out to me as well. The church stands tall over looking Riomaggiore, still the highest structure in the city. I can’t remember the last time a church was the highest structure in a city in the U.S, other than TCU’s chapel within our campus. Following this section of the hike, I even noticed a few crosses with rosaries along the hike we took. I also noticed mini statues of the Virgin Mary engraved into walls of homes as we entered Cinque Terre through northern Italy. You can tell that the Catholic Church still remains strong in Cinque Terre, and I’m sure I’ll see it even more as we continue to travel through Italy. On the other hand, last time I checked, some beautiful Catholic Churches have been closed down in New York because of lack of attendance.
A second thought that occurred to me on our hike, as I smelled the scents of different flowers and plants, regarded the prevalence of agriculture in the region. In 6th grade, I learned about terrace farming. I learned about it yet again in AP world history. Now, I’ve finally been able to see it for myself. As we hiked through these terraces, I observed the way the pipes connect throughout the terraces and the way they use little mini rails to transport crops throughout the rails. Realizing that these systems have been in place for hundreds of years and still thrive today also added an extra level of coolness. I saw the abundance of olives and grapes planted and then realized that’s exactly why there’s a focus on wine and olive oil in the region (don’t worry mom, at dinner I only had olive oil). This morning when I bought a container of cherries, I thought of our hike as I assumed I likely passed where they’re grown yesterday.
I’m curious to see how agriculture plays a role throughout Italy as we arrived in Florence today. I’ve already begun noticing the importance religion had in shaping the city, seen in the architecture and prevalence of churches, but I’m interested to learn the history behind the role religion played and how that shaped Florence in comparison to its role in Cinque Terre. For now, ciao!