We’re in the middle of a long weekend here in Rome, with a lot of people away on a short holiday. Today was supposed to be a laid-back long Sunday morning, thanks to the extra hour going off daylight-saving-time, but it didn’t work out that way. Most of us were literally shaken out of bed by the latest strong earthquake near Norcia – some 110 kilometers as the crow flies north of Rome. Shortly after, it looked like all the people in the district had scrambled out of their pyjamas and were milling around in the street or noisily crammed into the two local coffee shops, having breakfast with cornetti and watching the latest live news on the overhead TVs.
There had actually been a suspicious amount of official news in the last few weeks about most of Italy being a highly seismic area, which seems to have kept people sufficiently on their toes that they rushed out into the streets in the stricken areas as soon as this second series of quakes started a couple of days ago.
As a result, there have been no new casualties so far. So that’s something to be glad about, though thousands of people are now displaced and are being housed in hostels, hospitals and hotels along the Adriatic coast. Dozens of old villages in the Appenines have disintegrated into heaps of stones, and some mid-sized historical towns have many buildings and churches in a state of near-collapse.
And what about the future?
Californians know all about living on and near a Fault, but from what I know, there they build under basic disaster-prevention rules that tend to be enforced. Or not? On the contrary, the building and development laws here in Italy are a jungle of inadequate measures, and most of the ancient and historical buildings have rarely been reinforced. New buildings rarely conform to all safety regulations, because of corruption, cost-cutting, ignorance or a mix of all three.
In optimistic think-mode, I’d say this could be a wake-up call leading to a seachange in the culture of chaos, and hopefully get communities working together. Do away with the age-old distrust between neighbouring towns and villages that has always handicapped the nation. In realistic think-mode, I’m not going to hold my breath.
But I’m staying optimistic anyway with these photos of Italy, because life in this country could be so “dolce“, were it not for the quirks of nature and of humans.
All photos ©14thcountry.com