Easter 1999 – Easter 2009
10 years ago. Seems more like 10 days ago. We were visiting one of our closest friends for Easter in L’Aquila. He grew up in Milan but moved to Abruzzo with his parents so he could help them build their dream house in their hometown, Poggio di Roio. It wasn’t easy for him to leave his friends and everything he knew but he made the best of it, found a job at the university and slowly carved out a new life for himself.
We couldn’t wait to visit him and see the house. It still wasn’t ready by the time we went down but he was proud to show us the work in progress, where the bedrooms would be, the wonderful view from the hill. His parents were hoping that our friend would eventually live there with his wife and kids. Like all Italian parents, they wanted to make sure their little boy was “sistemato”.
We stayed in L’Aquila, in a house which was usually rented out by students. I remember it being particularly cold that Easter, especially at night. But we loved walking around town despite the chill. We would stroll around the Piazza Duomo, visited the 99 Cannelle fountain, gazed upon the imposing Spanish Fortress. The architecture of the town ranged from Medieval, Renaissance to Baroque. It was a true jewel.
Ten years and 2o seconds later. Many of those Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque buildings are forever damaged or collapsed. The town we admired will probably never be the same again.
Our friend and his elderly parents were alseep in their brand new house when the earth began to tremble. They escaped in time and spent the night in their car. The next day they awoke to discover the dream house they spent over 15 years to build was full of cracks and collapsed walls, still creaking and shaking due to the aftershocks. The university campus where our friend worked is now a mass of rubble. Yet he’s as cool as a cucumber. Like most Abruzzesi, his strength of character comes through in times of adversity. He’s rolling up his sleeves, already thinking about how to rebuild the house, getting on with the day-to-day things.
Easter is a time of re-birth, a time of miracles. This year’s celebrations will be different. All Italians are profoundly shaken and saddened by this tragedy. But we know how lucky we are that our friend survived. He’s our Easter miracle.
“Baciamo le mani, Loris!”
If you’d like to help the Abruzzo Earthquake victims, please check out the useful links at the end of this WhyGo Italy article. Thanks.