It is said that to understand a sea land, from the sea you should look at it: watching the coastline of the Cinque Terre National Park, which stretches from Portovenere to Monterosso, what catches the eye is the fact that the Cinque Terre Park is multicoloured.
One of the coves of the “Rosse”, rock formations, given by stratification of these fossils “ammonites”.
The “Red”, the “White”, the “Black” are names for the stretches of coast given by those who have always lived here for the characteristic color of the rocks, reflecting in the water and creating beautiful and colorful lighting effects. The same name of Monterosso, one of the “Cinque Terre” villages, comes from the color of the rock promontory on which it is.
But what are these colors and these rocks in detail? And why are they so different?
The colorfulness of the Cinque Terre Park rocks is due to the complexity of the geological history of the area.
With a “small” step back a hundred million years, we find that a clash between the European and the African plate caused the disappearing of a small ocean basin called Tethys, which was later re-ejected in the form of the ophiolites forming the Ligurian and Provencal basin, but also the Alps.
These rocks, which are the result of uprisings, overlapping and inclusions have appeared in the most remote times with underwater volcanic eruptions. The contact of the magma with the water and the air has resulted in rich iron formations and magnesium colored from emerald green to red, the typical colors of the stretch between Punta Mesco and Monterosso.
Of relatively recent times are the “Tuscany Series”, a sandstone – usually characterized by white, gray and black bedding – formed by sediments of materials derived from the uprising rocky chains called “Boulder”. You can recognize them in the typically “zebra” stratifications of all the villages of the Cinque Terre , between Riomaggiore and Monterosso.
Manarola is distinguished by a particular darker color of the rock : sediments are derived from the action of waves and currents on the coast, derived from the dismantling of rocky cliffs.
The extraordinary red color of the “Rosse” is due instead to a substantial amount of the “ammonites” fossils; the white cliffs of the “Bianche”, and also the one on which is the climbing school of Muzzerone and characteristic also of Palmaria and Portovenere however, is the most typical limestone of the Apennines and the Alps.
The Cinque Terre villages are Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso, with a total population of about 4,000 inhabitants. The story told by these villages and the area around them is one of a complex relationship between a sometimes difficult nature and the requirements of human development. The inhabitants of these areas, for thousands of years have worked to make each small strip of land, often overlooking the sea, and disputed with the rocky soil, arable. Today, the view offered by the terraces and villages, is one of the most evocative of Italy.
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