First records recognizing Vernazza as a fortified town date back to the year 1080. Referred to as an active maritime base of the Obertenghi, a family of Italian nobility, it was a likely point of departure for naval forces in defence of pirates.
Over the next two centuries Vernazza was vital in Genova's conquest of Liguria, providing port, fleet and soldiers. In 1209, the approximately 90 most powerful families of Vernazza pledged their allegiance to the republic of Genova.In 1997, the Cinque Terre was recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and in 1999 the National Park of the Cinque Terre was born. Today the main source of revenue for Vernazza is tourism. However, as a testimony to the strength of centuries old tradition fishing, wine and olive oil production still continue to take place.