Italy's bottle ban to brighten beaches...
HIKERS visiting one of Italy's most scenic stretches of coastline have been banned from carrying plastic bottles of water amid fears the area is being buried in rubbish.
Instead, they will be asked to pay €1 ($A1.35) for reusable metal flasks that can be filled at newly installed public water fountains.
The quaint villages, terraced vineyards and precipitous cliffs of the Cinque Terre, in the country's north-west, attract 3 million visitors a year.
However, as well as enjoying the region's wine, food and stunning views, the tourist hordes discard 2 million plastic bottles, some of which tumble down the cliffs and end up littering local beaches and polluting the sea.
The worst month is August, when an average of 400,000 plastic bottles are discarded along the narrow strip of picturesque World Heritage coast that lies south of Genoa in the province of Liguria.
Under the plan, tourists entering the national park that encloses the Cinque Terre region will be encouraged to buy the one-litre reusable flasks, stamped with the national park's logo. Automated water fountains offering chilled sparkling or still water will be installed in the coming months so that visitors can replenish their supply as they hike the 14 kilometres along the coastline.
The Cinque Terre - which translates as the Five Lands - consists of five coastal villages linked by a railway line and a network of steep, narrow footpaths.
The first five fountains will be installed next month around Riomaggiore, the region's main village, followed by the hamlets of Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare.
Franco Bonanini, the president of the Cinque Terre National Park, said the ban was being introduced because the area was being buried in plastic.
''With so many visitors, the footpaths and villages of the Cinque Terre are at risk of being transformed into a great big open-air dustbin,'' Mr Bonanini said.
''We are going to update the existing water fountains and install new ones: they will provide people with still or sparkling filtrated water. By the start of next spring, we hope to have liberated ourselves from this nightmare.''