CINQUE TERRE, Italy– The Cinque Terre coastline of Italy has an almost mythic status among travelers — who hasn’t seen photographs of the pastel-colored houses built into rugged cliffs, surrounded by bright blue sea, and fallen instantly in love?
In person, the region’s even more spectacular — these five picturesque fishing villages are a UNESCO World Heritage Site for a reason.
But if you travel there this summer with only your flimsy sandals and flip-flops in tow, you might have a bit of a shock.
The Cinque Terre National Park authority is running a public information campaign warning tourists about climbing the cliffs without appropriate footwear.
And if you choose to ignore the advice, you could face fines of between €50 ($56) and €2,500 ($2,826).
It’s all because mountain rescue teams are becoming increasingly exasperated with rescuing ill-prepared visitors on the mountainous walkways.
They’ll be posters and flyers advertizing the fines — and warnings issued online when you purchase a Cinque Terre card, which allows you use of all the connecting park buses and trains and access to the trekking paths.
Currently, the English-language version of the park’s website advises hikers to only go on trails which suit their skills — and to bring sun cream, a hat, hiking boots, food and other supplies.
“These are difficult paths, in some cases, similar to mountain paths,” Patrizio Scarpellini, director of the Cinque Terre National Park, tells CNN Travel. “Essential to have proper shoes!”
Scarpellini says the Comandi Regione Carabinieri Forestale — a law inforcement group — will work together with those who monitor the trails, to inform visitors of the ban.
“The fines will be high,” he adds.
The flip-flop ban is one of a series of moves to accommodate the thousands of visitors who disembark in Cinque Terre in summer.
La Genova Republicca reports that visitors this year between April and October are expected to be up to 750,000 from last year’s 450,000.
A lot of these visitors are day-trippers coming from cruise liners.
There’s also been discussion about introducing a tourism tax, following on from Venice’s decision last month.
It’s just another Italian destination trying to deal with the increasingly omnipresent problem of overtourism.
In the past few months, Rome passed laws banning street drinking, organized pub crawls and taking a dip in the city’s fountains. Meanwhile over in Venice the city’s mayor, Luigi Brugnaro, proposed a fine of up to €500 (about $585) for anyone sitting down in an undesignated spot.