On October 25th, after a long and extraordinarily warm autumn, it started to rain incessantly in Southern Liguria and Northern Tuscany. In about three hours the village of Monterosso, in the Cinque Terre, received more than 20 inches of rain. Complicated by a fast-moving tornado and landslides, these extraordinary atmospheric conditions radically and tragically changed the reality of the village in a matter of hours.
There is no way to explain the chaos and uncertainty of what was happening in the early afternoon hours of the 25th. Few phones remained with service so people were unable to contact each other. The downpour caused landslides that filled the 6 canals that run under Monterosso’s streets and alleyways. Some canals exploded with debris, mud, sticks, stones, water and cars, leaving streets at 45 degree angles or turned into endless sinkholes. After the canals gave way, rivers one to two meters high formed in what were once streets, isolating people physically. Some were forced to break down walls to get to higher ground and were only found that evening when the water subsided a bit.