Monday, August 3, 2009

Cinque Terre.

This is coolbert:

Rick Steves the travel adventure guide is touring the Cinque Terre. The "Five Lands". Picturesque, even quaint towns of the Italian coastline, actually considered part of the Riviera!

"Cinque Terre is a rugged portion of coast on the Italian Riviera. It is in the Liguria region of Italy, to the west of the city of La Spezia. "'the Five Lands' comprises five villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore."

. . . .

"The Cinque Terre is noted for its beauty. Over centuries, people have carefully built terraces on the rugged, steep landscape right up to the cliffs that overlook the sea. Part of its charm is the lack of visible 'modern' development . . . cars cannot reach it from the outside. It is a very popular tourist destination."

Cinque Terre, a popular tourist destination, each of the five towns isolated and having a character of its own. Each town too having a common denominator, a "castle". NOT actually a castle as is generally understood, but rather a fortified tower. A refuge for the towns people in a time of danger.

Danger that came in the form of Muslim slave raids. Raids that endangered the southern coastline of Europe for a period of about a thousand years.

A fortified tower, build on dominant terrain, very rugged at that, maintaining a guard, a sentinel, to watch for the approach of Muslim corsairs. Primarily from North Africa, and often referred to as Turks. A fortified tower offering refuge to the towns people when a slave raid was made manifest, allowing possible defense and protection where no other was possible!

For a period of about a thousand years, the Muslim corsairs were a threat of the first magnitude. European slaves were referred to as "white gold", DURING ONE FIFTY YEAR PERIOD IT IS ESTIMATED THAT PERHAPS AS MANY EUROPEANS WERE TAKEN AS SLAVES TO AFRICA AS WERE AFRICAN SLAVES TAKEN FROM AFRICA AND SENT TO THE "NEW WORLD"!!!

"they [Barbary Pirates] engaged in Razzias, raids on European coastal towns, to capture Christian slaves to sell at slave markets in places such as Algeria and Morocco."

"long stretches of coast in Spain and Italy were almost completely abandoned by their inhabitants, discouraging settlement until the 19th century. From the 16th to 19th century, pirates captured an estimated 800,000 to 1.25 million Europeans as slaves"

The towns of Cinque Terre were terribly isolated and very vulnerable to attack. The locals had to rely upon themselves for defense, if and when the attack came. The consequences for not defending yourself was slavery! Fortified towers were the ONLY answer available and provided as least a "possible"!

As peaceful, quiet, and quaint as Cinque Terre is now, it must be remembered that for a period of centuries - - the folks of the various villages had to keep a constant watchfulness, and be prepared to fight, at a moments notice!

HEY - - no one said life was easy!


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