Tag Archives: Abruzzo after earthquake

From the page to the village…

It’s such a lovely surprise to find out that after reading my books, some of you have sought out Fossa to see it for yourselves! And what a thrill to be sent these photos by Mel of her parents, Doris and Domenico, who were recently among a group guided by local, Edmondo, and given a tour of Fossa and the places I wrote about. Thank you to all of you! xx I never dreamed of seeing my books in Fossa or held up outside the door of my family’s house there. Can you imagine what Nonno Anni would’ve thought?! I can almost see him shaking his head and half-smiling in disbelief and happiness, his eyes a little bit wet.

It was in 1996 that I stood outside this same doorway for the first time, feeling so many emotions amid a chip on my shoulder and yet that tugging sense of ‘coming home’ to a place I’d never been before. And it was at the kitchen table inside that I began writing what would become Mezza Italiana and my later books over several visits. I had no clue then that what I wrote might be published one day, or that in 2009 an earthquake would hit, rendering the house and most of the town so damaged as to be uninhabitable. (As you can see, red scaffolding remains for now outside my family’s house.)

Fossa currently is a ghost town that requires much care and it is quite a moving experience to visit, while still beautiful and also fascinating in its mystical and lively past. I keep holding hope that its centuries of history, art, life and beauty on Monte Circolo will prevail and in future the town will once more surge with people, animals, vespas, church bells, music and wonderful cooking aromas. Heartfelt thanks to Doris and Domenico and all those who’ve sought out Fossa with respect and interest and again, thank you to all of you who’ve embraced these books so.

Oh, and Mel also wrote to me that her parents would’ve held Joe’s Fruit Shop and Milk Bar in the photos as well but her aunt had it and was busy reading it. That Joe’s is being read all these years on is just so terrific to hear. For Nonno Anni who, in 1939, aged 15 walked down that cobblestoned road carrying one suitcase on his way to the other side of the world, having to leave Fossa that he loved so much, not knowing if he’d ever return, I’m truly grateful that this story lives on more than 80 years later. For him and for all those who’ve taken that same, sometimes rough, brave journey of migrating and made the best they could of it. Grazie mille and auguri. Zoë xx

Books…

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The ghost town after the earthquake…

2005

This is the most recent footage of Fossa since the Abruzzo earthquake of 2009. It is called, ‘Town Disappeared Overnight’ by Broken Window Theory and shows the ghost town that it tragically is today. I admit, I did find it hard to watch at times – the place where generations of my family lived for centuries and many parts of the village where I’ve walked and lived and of course written about in both my books. It gave me goosebumps to see and I felt bewildered, sad, captivated and protective all at once. For this is not just a curiosity, it is where people’s lives were lost and for others where life, as they knew it, ended.

I look at the streets overgrown and neglected and at the same time I see in my mind back when they were well-kept and clean and full of people, cats, dogs, cars and vespas. Incredibly, at 18 minutes into this 20 minute footage, my family’s house with its little balcony fills the screen. It is deceptive because from that side wall the destruction inside the house is concealed. If you have any link to Abruzzo, I warn that this footage may be hard to watch as those filming go right into the most intimate parts of homes, which may just happen to be yours or of someone you know. That said, the young men filming have done so with respect, have only entered houses where the doors were already open and have concealed the name and whereabouts of the village. (Considering my own family’s house is one of those looted since the earthquake, I appreciate this.) By the end, they also appear to be overwhelmed by all they’ve seen.

I’ve always held hope to return to the village and my family’s house even if it is still a ghost town. However, most of all, I hope to see it and the other towns affected by the 2009 earthquake once again as they were. Vibrant, full of people of all ages, cooking aromas, vespas going past, cats asleep in doorways, women shelling peas, tvs blaring, kids playing football in the piazza, birds chirruping among the lanes and the church bell clanging, everything that was beautiful and glorious about Italian village life. xx

To watch footage… click here

For more about Fossa, how it once was and the earthquake…

Mezza Italiana

Joe’s Fruit Shop and Milk Bar

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Seven years on from the earthquake…

Chiesa PaganicaOn the anniversary of the 2009 Abruzzo earthquake today, I’m thinking of the 309 people who lost their lives and the many thousands who continue to reside in temporary housing seven years on.

This recent article from the Irish Times sheds some light on where reconstruction efforts in L’Aquila currently stand…

Seven years on, shadow of earthquake still hangs over L’Aquila.

As well as the damage to the Abruzzo capital, many surrounding small towns also continue to be affected in the aftermath including the villages where my family comes from and the house that has belonged to the family for generations. Many of these once lively villages remain almost ghost towns while it is assumed they have been rebuilt.

Stiamo pensando di tutti voi.

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