Post terremoto L'Aquila May 19, 2012
How can I recommend a city in which the centre is still a disaster area three years after the great earthquake of 2009?
Having been to L'Aquila before, I was almost moved to tears by its situation now.
The effect of earthquakes depends a lot on the geological structure of the land. Hence in some of the city's suburbs, if you did not know of the earthquake, you might just wonder about new roundabouts, of which there are many, and new blocks of houses on stilts. But as you enter the centre it is a very different world - spooky and horrific.
Strangely the two most striking churches have their façades almost intact - in front of buildings that are now nothing inside. I expect you would believe that Berlusconi claimed some credit for the intact façades and you would be right. Around the old market square the only building in partial use is the cathedral. Residents have tried to hide some of the horror by cloths with patterns over them. Where there was a lovely arcade the buildings still exist but they are propped up by huge metal pillars and rendered totally inaccessible by a huge wire fence on which are hung any number of keys to the premises within. The wonderful castle is now a no-go area.
Many residents have not been able to go back into their houses since the earthquake and looters are thus encouraged. To protect the buildings from them there is still a major army presence.
Many governments promised support immediately after the earthquake but only two have delivered anything. In England it was a nine day wonder - almost literally - and it almost impossible to discover what L'Aquila is now like. I expected to find it somewhat poignant but i was astonished and horrified by the lack of progress.
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