As most of you will know, since May 20 a series of earthquakes has been hitting Emilia Romagna, and in particular the provinces of Modena and Ferrara. People have died, buildings have come crumbling down, factories and farms have been destroyed. The images of the wheels of Parmesan cheese falling down during the earthquake have been seen on the news all over the world.
This is something relatively new for those areas, but certainly not for Italy, which, being a very seismic country, sees these devastating events on relatively regular basis. Just over the past 15 years, we have witnessed two of the most terrible earthquakes in recent history (and not so recent either, considering that the amazing works of art they damaged had been standing for centuries) have devastated areas as beautiful as Umbria in 1997 and Abruzzo in 2009.
I have a distant memory of an earthquake. I was very young, probably 4 or 5 years old. I was spending the month of June in a vacation house by the sea in Marina di Grosseto. It was late, and I was sleeping on a sofa while my grandmother was watching tv. I remember clearly the feeling of being moved around as if on a wave, and then I was abruptly awakened by the noise of the table on which the tv was standing moving across the room, and me and the sofa I was lying on sliding left and right in the room. I remember my grandmother grabbed me, covered me in a shirt and we ran out. She says she had heard a loud noise coming from the sea, I don’t remember that. I was probably asleep.
The street was full of people and children, and we all walked to the top of the dunes opposite to the buildings and we were all amazed to see the sea come towards us and flood the establishments on the beach. I remember that that night I slept in our neighbours’ car with their children and I had no idea why everybody looked so scared and worried. How little we knew back then… Instead of getting away from the sea, we were there looking at a miniature tsunami…
We are very proud of the beauty of our country, which boasts hills and mountains, as well as plains, lakes and amazing coasts. Well, earthquakes, in a way, are “the other side of the coin”: it’s the constant motion and friction of the African and the Eurasian Plates on which Italy lays, that produced our landscape the way it is now. We tend to forget that we are temporary guests on this planet and we act as if we had invented it and owned it, but we are no more than little ants on the back of a giant.
That is the feeling that I get any time I hear about terrible events like these: I feel humbled. It’s like being “resized” in a way. You put things into a totally different perspective, and in many different ways.
You realize how frail we and our material belongings are. How small our existence compared to the life of the planet. How insignificant our efforts to “decorate” it are.
But in all of this, I also feel the strength of human compassion, solidarity and pride. I look at the people in Umbria, in Abruzzo, in Emilia, and before then in Friuli and Irpinia and I think “they have lost everything, and have started over, with wilfulness as well as love for their home land. They have rebuilt, restored, reopened shops, factories and houses. They have proven that life goes on, no matter how long or little it lasts“.
How we can help
- If you are in Italy, you can send a text message to the number 45500 to donate 2 euros. You don’t need to write anything in the message, so even if you cannot speak Italian you can still donate very easily.
- By bank transfer. Here are the details:
Account holder: Regione Emilia-Romagna
Bank: Unicredit Banca Spa Agenzia Bologna Indipendenza – Bologna.
IBAN Code: IT 42 I 02008 02450 000003010203.
BIC/SWIFT Code: UNCRITB1NU2.
Note of cause: Contributo per il terremoto 2012 in Emilia-Romagna.
- Buying cheese. 12,000,000kg of Parmigiano Reggiano have been damaged. Coldiretti, the association of agricultural businesses, has organized the sale of the damaged wheels at the cost of production to help the producers get back on their feet. It is a great way to help them, and yourselves, because Parmigiano Reggiano is one of the healthiest foods out there, and the only cheese usually allowed in diets too. People interested in buying Parmigiano Reggiano can contact the association at the address firstname.lastname@example.org. They will provide all information. The cheese is delivered by courier. You can also buy Parmigiano Reggiano at the Coop: all the stores will devote part of the earnings to the consortium of Parmigiano Reggiano producers. You can contact the consortium directly at email@example.com or preorder the cheese using this form. Be aware that given the large amount of requests, they might take some time in replying. Or you can contact the producers directly. Here is a list of producers selling their wheels. More on how to buy Parmesan here.
Italy Blogging Roundtable
This is the twelfth post in a monthly series called The Italy Blogging Roundtable. Here you can find the posts of the other bloggers who participate in the roundtable. Our topic this month was “the earthquake in Emilia Romagna“: