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Cinque Terre describes the Mediterranean coastline between Genoa and Tuscany, where the hills are carved into green terraces that descend toward the water. In the thirteenth century, the medieval citizens of the Levante Riviera transformed their rocky environment into arable land, creating nine miles of terraced landscape with over 1,200 miles of stone drywall buttresses. (...)

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At the turn of the twenty-first century, only a small section of Cinque Terre was still being used for agricultural production and the populations of the surrounding towns were shrinking. Due to the increasing lack of maintenance, the stone buttresses that supported the terraces were collapsing and causing landslides toward the towns below. (...)

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Along the Mediterranean coast in northern Italy, the cultural landscape of Cinque Terre provides a powerful example of the way that humans can alter and shape their own environment. Liguria’s man-made terraces stretching between Genoa and Tuscany testify to the agricultural and engineering prowess of the medieval Italians. (...)