This page will be constantly updated with new information on the effects of the earthquake and how to help. All Dream of Italy profits between 8/24 and 9/2 will be donated to the Italian Red Cross for earthquake relief.
A 6.2 magnitude earthquake hit central Italy at 3:36 a.m. on August 24 killing at least 291 people. Rescue efforts are underway. The epicenter of the quake was 4.1 miles west-northwest of Accumoli in the province of Rieti in the region of Lazio. The earthquake was strongest in the regions of Lazio, Abruzzo, Le Marche and Umbria. There have been 2,000 aftershocks in the days following the quake. 2,600 people have lost their homes. Live updates from CNN.com here.
If you’re traveling to Italy in the coming weeks, don’t panic. The major damage was limited to the towns mentioned below. We’ve been receiving emails from tour operators in Le Marche and Umbria asking us to remind visitors that it is business as usual in most of their areas. Italians rely heavily on tourism and we want to support our friends as much as we can during this devastating time.
Hardest Hit Towns
The following towns have suffered extreme damage:
- Amatrice: The “town of 100 churches” and the birthplace of Amatriciana pasta was completely destroyed. Following the quake the town’s mayor said, “There’s nothing left here.”
- Pescara del Tronto: This tiny town in Le Marche sits on the Salaria, the ancient Roman road linking Rome to the Adriatic.
- Arquata del Tronto: Close to Pescara, Arquata is famous for its medieval fortress.
- Accumoli: Located in Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park, more than 2,000 homes have been destroyed in this beautiful town.
Italy Magazine has an excellent article on the history of these devastated towns. According to the article, “A sad coincidence involving Amatrice and Accumoli: both towns were hit by a devastating earthquake in 1639, ‘a twin earthquake to the one that occurred last night,’ said seismologist Andrea Tertulliani to La Repubblica’s newspaper. The two towns are positioned on a fault line with high seismic risk.”
Sadly, Italian authorities are investigating whether mafia infiltration of the building trade and code violations led to the high death toll.
How to Help From Afar
Join #Virtualsagra: Cook up some Amatriciana in honor of Amatrice and the 50th annual Amatriciana sagra the town was due to hold this weekend.
Donate to Italian Red Cross: Croce Rossa Italiana is accepting donations online. The organization has also come up with a creative fundraising campaign asking restaurants to donate 2 euros to earthquake relief for every dish of Amatriciana pasta ordered.
Donate to National Italian American Foundation: NIAF, an American organization, is collecting donations for earthquake relief. The donation form is in English which may be easier for some than donating directly to Italian organizations.
Donate to Help Pets: This initiative spearheaded by a friend of a colleague in Italy will help some of the most vulnerable creatures left in the wake of the earthquake – the pets who have lost their families and homes. Donation instructions here.
Donate to La Stampa Emergency Fund: The prominent Italian newspaper La Stampa has set up an earthquake relief fund accepting donations online.
Give to Shelter Box: Shelter Box is a disaster relief charity that distributes boxes with items like tents, tools, blankets, water purification systems and coloring books. They will be distributing them in Italy. Donate here.
Italy and Earthquakes
Sadly Italy has a long history of destructive earthquakes, including an 1169 quake in Sicily that killed 15,000 people. The country sits on two fault lines, making it one of the most tectonically vulnerable countries in Europe.
Our Hearts Are Breaking
Italian journalist Beppe Severgnini wrote a touching piece for The New York Times, Italy’s Fragile Beauty – a must-read. He writes, “Amatrice is the centerpiece of picture-postcard Italy, for those who find Tuscany too obvious, Rome too noisy and Venice too crowded…Today, according to one witness, ‘The area looks like Dante’s Inferno.’ But until yesterday, It looked like paradise. A lovely corner of the country. Ancient, unspoiled villages – for many foreigners, the quintessence of their Italian fantasies. For us Italians, a source of pride.”
(Photo of Amatrice before and after earthquake via Twitter.)