Ten years ago, the Cinque Terre region of Italy was hit Flood deadly.
On October 25, 2011, the five small fishing villages – which have long attracted tourists from all over the world – were hit by one of the worst flood That the area has already seen. Thirteen people were killed and many property and possessions lost. The streets of Vernazza, perhaps the most famous of the villages, were filled with mud.
Everyone in Cinque Terre has a story to tell about that terrible day. One of the most unusual accounts comes from a local hotel owner, Pierpaolo Paradisi. He says that on that fateful day he saved his life Puppy – The dog who named his hotel.
Leo’s Inn is perched on top of the cliffs above Vernazza. It is part of Privo – a small village on Sentiero Azzurro – the famous “blue path” that tourists love to walk. An estimated three million visitors annually arrive in the five small villages that make up the Cinque Terre.
But a decade ago, Privo and Centero Azzurro were devastated when landslides descended from the cliff, sweeping away everything in their path and burying the streets below in mud and rubble.
Paradisi – then an aspiring hotelier – worked in La Spezia, the gateway to the town of Cinque Terre. originating SardiniaHe moved to Liguria 15 years ago. He was on a hiking vacation when he passed Centero Azzurro, he met Privo. At that point, it was abandoned – and Paradisi immediately thought it might be a great hotel. A major renovation project began – but five years later the flood came.
Just a month ago, he adopted a dog, Leo – a puppy rescued from Serbia. look at me Facebook social networking site Over the summer, he read about a group of animal rights activists — Serbian models who brought stray dogs and cats to Italy when they came to work.
“in a war [iugoslava]People had to give up their pets — dogs, cats, turtles — and they breed,” Paradisi says. “So there was a problem with stray dogs.”
The hikers were caught and taken to kennels, where, Paradisi says, they risked sacrifice if not claimed within 48 hours.
Exhibitors paid €100 for a dog, but at the time, the average Serbian salary was just €250 a month, he says. Desire to help the animalsSend a message to the group asking them to choose a dog for him.
“I said I only need a small train, because I use the train a lot,” he recalls.
Choose a yellowish-brown puppy from Belgrade.
“His story was special,” Paradisi says. “He was arrested with his mother and sister, and they were killed in front of him,” he says. “I have a picture of the cage he was in. Of the 48 dogs, he was the only one who survived.”
Leo, as Paradisi called him, arrived in Liguria on September 25, 2011.
A month later, even though dogs are banned in his country DeskHe decided to take his new pet to work. A storm was already brewing in the area, and he was not comfortable leaving the dog at home.
“It was a violation that saved my life,” he says.
When the couple arrived in La Spezia, the storm had already begun – Heavy rainThunder and cold. Paradisi decided to leave early, fearing the weather would get worse.
“Even on the first mile, the situation changed—I’ve never seen the situation get this worse before,” he says.
“There was a hurricane that hit the mountains and I couldn’t see a meter ahead. I had vision of about a foot, so I was driving very slowly.”
Paradisi put Leo in the back of his car on the 17-mile journey. Mostly, the dog sat in silence. Until Liu got closer and closer to Privo while the car was turning around the cliff, he made his move.
“He jumped forward and got on his knees, so I had to stop,” Paradisi says. “I was pissed – I said, Leo, I’m driving.”
At that moment – right now he was trying to get the dog out of his lap and start walking again – it was cliff collapsed in front of them.
“The mountain just came down, and the landslide hit the asphalt and the parapet. It almost touched the car. One meter we would have disappeared,” he says.
Paradisi is convinced that Leo saved their lives. Didn’t realize then. He says that in shock, he manages to overturn the car and reach Manarola, another Cinque Terre village.
“Only then did I understand what was going on,” he says.
“I called police And they said, ‘You have to care because we can’t do anything, we are completely isolated – you should try to find help.
The two slept in the car that night. The next day, with the road still being destroyed, they tried to reach it on foot – along the Sentiero Azzuro Trail, which today is an ideal tour for tourists. On that day, it was far from idyllic.
“It felt like a war zone,” Paradisi said. “There were five helicopters searching for the missing people. There was an overturned sailboat and people were screaming and looking for others who had disappeared.” “Our house was fine, but we couldn’t get to it because the landslide crossed the road.”
Not knowing what to do, Paradisi called some friends to tell them what had happened. They said, ‘Thanks to Leo that you’re alive. “I don’t understand that yet.”
Management or hotel together
Today, their home is a cliff-edge motel, with self-contained apartments, and the two are inseparable. Paradisi has named the property Leo’s Lodge, and a dog symbol stands proudly on the door.
Leo plays the role of host, greeting guests, escorting them to their rooms and regularly patrolling the property, which is located right on the main pier and tourists pass by it every minute.
He goes with Paradisi every afternoon to pick up guests from nearby Corniglia in his jeep. “We’re together 24 hours a day, 7 days a week — I take you wherever I go, even to the dentist. The only place I can’t take it is in court,” Paradisi says.
Meanwhile, Liu’s fame spread widely. In 2012, a year after the flood, he took first place in the Premio Internazionale Fedeltà del Cane, or the international award for dog loyalty – ‘First Among Equals’ selected out of 10 equally exceptional dogs.
Paradisi says it was no coincidence that Leo forbade him from driving that day. He says that while he initially attributed it to fear on the part of the dog, experts believe there may be more to it.
“They can’t explain it scientifically, but they think some dogs have this ability — those dogs that suffer [trauma] Develop a seventh sense,” Paradisi says.
Dogs have 150 million olfactory receptors in their noses. Five million people. They think this gives them the ability to sense danger in some way. They know something is going on, even though we can’t understand it.”
“They definitely think so meteorological conditions You can smell something. The ozone I use to disinfect rooms these days – it’s what you smell after thunder and lightning. Therefore, dogs can probably smell odors that we cannot smell during such harsh weather. The smell, combined with the cold and thunder, must have made him understand that we needed to stop.”
“If he had just been scared, he could have stayed deep down and cried. But he was completely silent — as if he was listening to something. And at one point he said, “Enough — that’s enough, we need to stop.” That’s the feeling that afflicts me.”
Indeed, he says, there was a balcony in his old office in La Spezia that all mankind knew was dangerous. Instinctively, Leo too – he didn’t enter the room.
The future of the Cinque Terre
The tragedy of 10 years had a lasting effect on Ferdowsi. Although he has stayed in the area, fulfilling his dream of turning the abandoned village of Privo into a hotel – he now has rooms for 40 people, between Leo’s Lodge, a few apartments and the village – he is always on the alert.
“The flood made me realize that the Cinque Terre is a very dangerous area,” he says. Geologists believe it will be the first region to disappear in Italy.
And if he receives a warning message about the weather, he goes straight home. “I lock myself up at home because it’s safer to be indoors—but I don’t go to bed, I just stay on the couch with Leo and the cats,” he says. He could sleep there for as long as necessary–ready to run, fully clothed, with medicine and with a torch at hand.
In fact, his seven cats disappeared in the landslide – but, miraculously, they all came back in the following months.
Leo is now 14 years old and Paradisi thinks “a lot” about the day he’ll be alone. “It would be impossible to replace it, but I am taking another one, because I want to help another dog. I will continue to adopt from Serbia,” he says.
“I will need to mourn him a little, but in a few months I will order a dog from the same Belgrade kennel. In honor and in memory of Leo.”
But for now, Leo is not going anywhere and they are happy to run the inn together. And this week, as Cinque Terre prepares to remember the harrowing events of 10 years ago, Paradisi will reflect on that afternoon on the road to Vernazza – and the dog he saved, and his dreams of a hotel by the sea.
This is a translated text. To read the original text in English, click here.
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