Friday, 21 June 2013
When I was in Italy last year I visited and posted about the Cinque Terre in Liguria. What I did not post at that time was the practice whereby couples place locks with their names on in the belief that whilst the locks stay locked their names will also be linked in love.
Until the last century the Cinque Terre towns were extremely isolated and the townspeople rarely married anyone from outside their own town. After the blasting of the second train line in the 1920s, a trail was made between the first two towns: Riomaggiore and Manarola. A gunpowder warehouse was built along the way, safely away from the townspeople. (That building is today’s Bar dell’Amore mentioned in my post.)
Constant landslides kept the trail closed more often than it was open. After World War II, the trail was reopened, and became established as a lovers’ meeting point for boys and girls from the two towns. (After one extended closure in 1949, the trail was reopened for a Christmas marriage.). A journalist, who noticed all the amorous graffiti along the path, coined the trail’s now-established name, Via dell’Amore: “Pathway of Love.”
This new pathway changed the social dynamics between the two villages and made life much more fun and interesting for courting couples. Today, many tourists are put off by the cluttered graffiti that lines the trail but it’s all part of the history of the Cinque Terre’s little lovers’ lane.
You’ll see a cluster of padlocks under the tunnel, on the Manarola side. Closing a padlock with your lover onto a cable or railing at a 'love place'—often a bridge—is the current craze in Italy, having been re-popularized by a teen novel.