The Cinque Terre are a group of five fishing villages located along an eleven mile stretch of steep coastline between Levanto and La Spezia, in Liguria, Italy. They are accessible by boat and train, the train passing mostly through tunnels excavated from the cliffs, and by mule trails which are now extremely popular as tourist hiking paths. The views along the coast and over the villages of the Cinque Terre from these walking paths are truly spectacular. Until twenty years ago, fishing, wine and olive oil were the main source of income to the villagers, but tourism is now extremely important to the local economy, to the extent that during parts of summer the number of tourists visting the Cinque Terre somewhat spoils the ambience. Nevertheless, the area is still well worth a visit and is easily accessible by train from Florence and other parts of Tuscany.
After being represented diplomatically in Florence for 555 years with few breaks, the UK will close its consulate in Florence at the end of 2011. The official duties of the Florence consulate will be taken over by the Milan office.
British Consulate in Florence
This was one of Britain’s oldest international diplomatic seats, tracing its roots back to 1456 when an English legation was based in Florence. The list of consuls begins in 1698 with Sir Lambert Blackwell, “consul at Leghorn”, as the port city of Livorno was then known, and continues through Sir Horace Mann, who as consul in Florence from 1760 to 1786 turned the consulate into a salon, receiving all Britons of rank who passed through the city. In the meantime, since 2007, the UK Foreign Office has opened consulates in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo; Antananarivo, Madagascar; and Juba, Sudan. I wonder if they really have their priorities right.