Saturday, August 29, 2009


The church of Saint Michele Arcangelo at night, we sat in the village square as the village festival flowed around us. At 11pm the school brass orchestra was giving a free concert, down the road in the park a free pop concert was underway, earlier in the evening the village square had been packed for a mass participation game of bingo.

Everybody is very friendly, nobody is drunk or boorish. The young people here seem very much more stylish than our young folk back home, whereas in Ilkley when you see a group of girls (or boys) out at night there seems to be a sort of desperate uniformity to their dress as though to wear something different would set you apart from the group, here the girls wear a multitude of styles, and more mature styles as well. Italian girls know that clingy leggings are not a good look even if you have the perfect figure. There is also a huge difference in how the girls wear make up, at home the sight of girls wearing so much war paint that you assume they need an archaeologist to remove it is common, here the girls allow more of their natural beauty to shine through.

The streets of these villages are very much as they were hundreds of years ago, a mass of cramped, winding roads, arches leading into steep and stepped passages, windows all shuttered against the daytime heat, flowers growing in colourful profusion from pots and window boxes wherever room allows.

A large earthquake (magnitude 6.4) struck this region on 26th September 1997, eleven people lost their lives, hundreds were hurt and there was widespread damage to buildings across the region. Some of the ancient buildings are still being repaired twelve years on.

Our hosts, Ilka and Nuccio, spent hours searching for their daughter Katty who had gone missing in the immediate aftermath of the quake, she was found safe. Their home was damaged in the quake and they spent days living in their car before enough tents could be found to acomodate the thousands made homeless. The car park close to the rail station became an open air hospital after the main hospital building was too badly damaged to use.

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