The Agony of Destroyed Heritage
"This is a very small village and I fear it will be left to die. We have nothing now. We have no future."
"This is not a touristy place, it's not Assissi [which was meticulously restored after the 1997 earthquake]."
"I'm afraid we could be living here [emergency tent village] a long time."
Monica Valle, 49, Accumoli, Italy
"After seven years, L'Aquila [still unreconstructed, where 309 people died in a 2009 earthquake] remains an open wound. What's going to happen to us?"
Stefano Petrucci, mayor, Accumoli
"Amatrice is too important not to be rebuild. People come from all over Italy to eat spaghetti all'amatriciana here -- it's known throughout the world."
Giorgio, elderly resident of Amatrice
"No night can last so long that the sun never rises again."
"I am convinced that Amatrice will rise again. We owe it to the people who died here."
Sergio Pirozzi, Amatrice mayor
Local people of the Green Heart of Italy, a huge triangle of mountains, forests and medieval stone villages despair that their historical towns will ever be rebuilt after the devastating earthquake that hit the region with a death toll of 290. The financial state that Italy is in lends credence to their fears. Augmented with their feeling that the determination that their hamlets be rebuilt will vanish after the initial shock to the nation of the heritage loss.
They envision their towns and villages left in ruin, the forests overtaking them.
Fewer than one percent of Italian home owners possess earthquake insurance. In Japan, by comparison, another hugely earthquake-prone geography, about 20 percent of homeowners do have such insurance. Should families in the mountainous region that saw all they owned and lived for destroyed by the tremblor and its aftershocks, wish to rebuilt, it is doubtful they could do so without financial assistance from some source, and the sole source they might consider would be government treasury.
When the city of L'Aquila was destroyed after a powerful 2009 earthquake, the government in Rome pledged it would swiftly rebuild. Seven years later, the city resembles a construction site, buildings wrapped in scaffolding, propped with girders, with 8,000 of its residents living still in the temporary accommodation provided to them in the immediate wake of the devastating tremblor that destroyed all that was familiar to them.
Little wonder the villagers inhabiting towns destroyed by the quake of last week have little faith. Matteo Renzi, their prime minister stated without equivocation that "We want those communities to have the chance of a future and not just memories", as he pledged to rebuild. But in light of the financial challenges the country is facing and considering that dozens of villages and hamlets were devastated, the very thought of building materials being transported up those narrow twisting mountain roads which heavy machinery must traverse is daunting.
Perhaps, in the final analysis, practical reality will impose itself, and the Renaissance frescoes in medieval churches, towers and convents now so heavily damaged, will never be restored, let alone peoples' homes. Amatrice was the worst hit, where over 200 of the victims died, and it is little but rubble, where it was once considered one of Italy's most beautiful of villages.