Lying on the northern coast of Italy, the region of Cinque Terre has become one of the most famous tourist sites in the country. Recently, this area has been attracting more than just tourists. A UNESCO-funded program to help teach the art of terracing has been developed in the region. Led by Margherita Ermirio, the goal is to not only teach the traditional method of farming to the next generation, but also to secure the future of the Cinque Terre region. Because of its unique placement on the side of mountains set against the sea, the terracing in Cinque Terre not only yields crops but helps to maintain soil structure and prevent erosion.
Mrs. Ermirio spent several years abroad before returning to her hometown in order reteach the process of terracing. Essentially, terracing is the method of planting crops on step-like platforms that have been carved into the mountainside. This form of agriculture helps to prevent heavy erosion associated with falling rainwater. In a sense, reteaching this method of farming not only helps to carry on a sense of cultural historical significance but also to secure the future of the Cinque Terre landscape itself.
Starting in the 1960’s farmers began to leave their plots of land in order to search for better work in the cities. This abandonment has left many of these terrace steps in need of repair and reuse. Through the UNESCO-sponsored program, Mrs. Ermirio has been working with several local landlords to help rebuild the terracing structures and continue this old practice of agriculture in order to secure a future for Cinque Terre. The work conducted by Mrs. Ermirio has received support and attention at both a global and an international level.