Photo taken from http://earthsky.org
I’m not writing enough at the moment so I’m behind schedule with my 90 notes but I do have a couple of good excuses. If you’ve seen the Italian news then you will know that last week we had a couple of earthquakes here in Le Marche, 5.5 and 6.1 on the Richter Scale according to some reports. The first was around 7 in the evening and I was about to jump in the shower when the three-tier Ikea wooden shelf unit began to wobble, the windows shook and rattled and my legs felt the earth move. It took a few seconds to register what was happening but then I grabbed a towel – to cover my nakedness – and ran down three flights of stairs to find The Man and others in the house on their feet and looking out of the front door and windows. The Petritolese were out in the streets as quick as a flash. Apparently that’s the right thing to do – or get under a sturdy table. The shaking passed and we exchanged expletives and other words of comfort before going back to what we were doing before the quake. It was immediately reported on social media with wild guesses of where, what and when etc., The epicentre was around 40k distant from our town. It was soon established that this time, unlike the recent earthquake in August, there was some property damage but no casualties. I sent a messages to our children to let them know we were okay and then we all decided to continue with our plans for the evening which was to dine out at the wonderful I Piceni restaurant in Ortezzano.
On the short drive to our dinner destination the rain was torrential, thunder and lightning shook the already nervous dispositions of our Southern Hemisphere visitors, ‘Jeez! What kind of country are you living in here?’ (say that in an Aussie accent please). Once settled at our table and having acknowledged the recent seismic waves with other diners we tucked into our delicious food and wine and were beginning to completely relax when another quake took hold, this time bigger than the first – and whatsmore we were closer to the epicentre this time. All the Italians rushed from their dinner tables, the chef came out of the kitchen, ‘Calma, calma, tutta posto…relax, everything will be okay…’ One British chap strolled quietly towards the exit, glass of red wine in his hand, totally unperturbed a true example of British reserve. This time my legs felt very odd and at the end of the 110 second shake the room seemed to move in a circular motion, the ceiling lamps swaying like spinning plates. After a while we all went back to our meals and carried on eating and apart from a slightly tense atmosphere we continued on as though this was an everyday occurence. When home we hit the computers, iPads and mobile phone devices on wifi to find out what we could. There was a report of only two deaths but some big buildings had collapsed. The main centres hit were Visso and then Ussita up in the Sibilini mountains. Nobody slept well that night, the after shocks continued and the house shook gently every now and then reacting to the tremours. It’s now a few days on and calm seems to have set in once more. The Man looked at the website for earthquakes where he learnt that Italy has something like 27 a day but most are not felt as they are below 2.5. Not sure how I feel about that.
My second reason for not writing is that we are leaving Italy this week to go back to England, so I have been busy sorting and packing. Every time, throughout my life, when I make a move I do a big cull of things collected but still, I have a mountain of useless paraphernalia, some of which is impossible to dump – tiny baby shoes, first school blazers, christening outfits etc., I had the help of a friend and we were putting things into piles, keep, rubbish or ‘give it to the poor people!’ which sounded awful but in the town there are big yellow containers where you can place unwanted clothing, blankets, shoes, bags etc., that are too good to throw away. There are no charity shops here, not that I’ve found anyway and was told I wouldn’t be allowed to transport stuff back to the UK simply to take it to the charity shop.
I began writing this post yesterday afternoon and this morning we had another earthquake at 7.40am, 30th October. It was reported at 6.6 or 7.1 depending on which website you looked on. It was pretty scary, we were in bed at the time, drinking a cup of tea and as soon as the house began to shake we leapt up and legged it downstairs to the ground floor.
‘I’ve got no clothes on!’ shouted The Man.
‘No worries, I’ve got our dressing gowns, I grabbed them as we flew out of the bedroom.’ I called.
On reaching the sitting room the dog looked suitably shocked, probably more by our nakedness that the shaking of the house. As before, neighbours were soon out in the square, half-dressed or with blankets over their night attire. Being British, we just looked through the window. They are saying it was the strongest recorded shock in over 30 years and it lasted around 3 minutes. Three minutes is a very long time to be standing in a house that’s rocking. the pictures skewed on the walls and the lamps hanging outside on our terrace were swinging as though a gale were blowing. My hands shook and I felt queasy and to be honest, for the rest of the day I have not felt 100%. A friend of mine posted on Facebook that there is such a thing as an earthquake hangover so I guess that’s maybe what I’ve got.
I’ll be leaving Italy with mixed feelings, it’s been a great few years and the weather has been very kind to us. We love the people, the sea and the mountains, but the bureaucracy can get you down a bit…