As many of you already know, in the early morning of this past Wednesday, areas of central Italy were struck by a 6.2 earthquake, causing 278 casualties and with 238 survivors extracted from under the debris and 387 wounded (as of today at 7pm). As the hours pass, hope that more people will be found alive under the destruction of homes diminishes but work continues by emergency squadrons who continue the search for survivors.
Where the earthquake hit
In particular, the epicenter of the first earthquake struck at 3:36am near the town of Accumoli, in the province of Rieti, which falls in an area between the regions of Lazio, Marche, Umbria and Abruzzo. The towns of Accumoli, Amatrice, Arquata and Pescara del Tronto are the towns worse hit, with all of them having major damage. Amatrice suffered the worst casualties, with 218 deaths. The first shake was followed by over 100 aftershocks within the first three-hour period, aftershocks that have continued through the last two days and many felt as far as Rome and the region of Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany (with a total of over 900 aftershocks).
Areas not affected by the earthquake
The initial news on the earthquake mentioned central Italy, which is a vast area. The region of Umbria was often mentioned, but the only in the region that had some damages was Norcia. Having already suggered two major earthquakes in 1979 and 1997, most buildings in Norcia had been rebuilt or retrofitted to be earthquake resistant so damages were small.
While the earthquake was felt in Rome and further away, there were no damages further than the immediate area hit. The news have pinpointed the areas affected but unfortunately we have heard many from travel-related providers in Umbria and even Tuscany have received cancellations of holidays in both regions. We wish to reassure all of our readers that even if the first earthquake was felt in Tuscany and Florence, there were no damages or casualties in the entire region of Tuscany. It is SAFE to travel to Florence and many other parts of Italy. Please spread the word that both Umbria and Tuscany were touched little by the earthquake and that it is safe for travelers.
The terrible loss in the area hit
All of the towns mentioned above are in a territory of great natural beauty, close to two national parks, and home to an important historic and artistic heritage including many Roman, Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque monuments. Now, much of what was historic in these towns has been reduced to rubble. “There’s nothing left here,” said the mayor of Amatrice, Sergio Pirozzi, on the phone with RAI News hortly after the quake. Half the town of Pescara del Tronto is gone.
An outpouring of support has arrived from all corners of the world, many asking how they can help. First went a call for donations of blood for anyone here in Italy. But blood is only accepted from previous blood donors as there is no time to carry out health checks.
The first call for basic necessities has been largely suspended as most volunteers and donations are better handled through organizations that work directly with the Protezione Civile, or national Civil Protection emergency teams dispatched by the government. The top organization working with the Protezione Civile is the Italian Red Cross. The best way to help is with financial donations. You can donate 2 euro by sending a text message to the Protezione Civile at 45500 with “protezione civile pro terremotati” as a message. This will only work for Italian mobile numbers.
What you can do to help
To donate to the Red Cross, you can do it online directly at: http://www.cri.it/terremoto-centro-italia (box on the right side of the page). They also list some basic supplies that are appreciated, such as water, over-the-counter medicines and disposable plates and utensils but most of all, tables, chairs and gazebos for the displaced citizens of these towns. These are harder to get to them directly, so we recommend doing the donation so that they can procur what is most needed more easily.
Help reconstruction by going to the museum this Sunday
The Italian Ministry of Artistic and Cultural Heritage and Tourism has done a first overview of the historical buildings that have been destroyed in the earthquake and compiled a list of almost 300 sites. The greatest challenge will be to reconstruct the towns hardest hit, trying to rebuild these historical buidlings. If you are in Italy at the moment, you CAN HELP by visiting an Italian national museum this weekend all over Italy. 100% of proceeds from entrance fees at these museums on Sunday, August 28th, including the Uffizi and Accademia in Florence, will go to a special fund set up for reconstruction of the historical sites hit by the earthquake. Here’s a list of the State museums in Florence and Tuscany.
UPDATE: 08/27: The city museums in Florence will also join the initiative for Sunday, August 28th and donate all admission proceeds from tomorrow’s visitors to the earthquake fund. Here’s a list of those city museums in Florence.
Indirect help when you go out to eat
In your neck of the woods, an indirect way to help can be done when you go out to eat: look for local Italian restaurants taking part of “Amatriciana for Amatrice“. Amatrice, one of the hardest hit towns, is the place where spaghetti all’amatriciana was born and many chefs around the world have come together to offer a donation of 2 euros for every plate of amatriciana ordered over the next year to help aid in reconstruction.
Another local initiative with the same name of “Una Amatriciana per Amatrice” sponsored by Confersercenti Servizi to aid all of the 4 towns in reconstruction will take place during the week of September 12-18. All proceeds for every plate of amatriciana ordered at participating restaurants across all of Italy (at their discretion to decide which day) for that full day will be donated to the fund by the restaurants.
The initiative has already taken off in a combination of the two ways: in Rome, some restaurants are offering the entire cost of the plate of pasta as a donation for a limited time, others the 2 euros for a few months, others offering to take your donation even if you don’t order the pasta. So even when you don’t think about it, you can still contribute in a small way to rebuild Amatrice and the area hit by the earthquake.
About Lourdes Flores
An American living in Florence for over 10 years, Lourdes continues to explore and discover new places in Tuscany with the eyes of a tourist but with the experience of living in Italy. She shares her experiences on this blog and website, particularly offering lots of travel planning help on the Forum!