I have returned to writing this blog after a gap of a few weeks, with both the intention and the desire to document the rebirth of our area which has been affected by the earthquakes. This is an area to which we inhabitants of the Sibillini are linked in a profound way, and I especially want to tell you about the reconstruction of our house, which is not just a simple house, but a place that is our identity, our project, our lives. I’m telling you this because it is all of these things to us.
So I’ll try to explain the situation of this part of the world so severely battered by Mother nature over the last months in order that even those who do not live here and have not personally experienced the earthquake but feel close to us in their hearts, can be helped to understand how things stand.
My family has always lived here in the mountains, in the foothills of Mount Sibilla, in this hidden but incredibly charming and magical place. It’s a simple life, without frills, made of hard work and little things that give small satisfactions: work in the fields, the vegetable garden, the animals, genuine and home-produced food, and love for others. A healthy life that many seek these days, with a history of hospitality which started very long ago and which I really want to continue with my parents, because this place and this way of life belong to me and are part of me. It might seem a paradise for those who live in town, but life here is not easy, especially in winter,(ironically but also with some truth, mountain dwellers say that winter here lasts 10 months a year), when we remain alone, with the snow and the cold. The weather is often Master, the cold, strong winds, snowstorms creating discomforts, just as happened a few weeks ago. We are far away from essential services and we risk being cut off. Fatigue and discomfort are felt but we go on.
Although for many people this wouldn’t make sense, it does for us, because for more than 20 years in this lovely but at times rather unforgiving place we have run our guest house, Le Castellare. When, in 1992 my father decided not to leave the village but to renovate my grandparents’ house to create accommodation for travellers, the Sibillini National Park had not yet been established, so it was a big risk to take. Today I thank him for that brave decision. Today, in spite of the structure having been damaged by the earthquake, I know where my place is, and as my father had to make a choice many years ago, now I’ve made my choice and that is to stay.
The present situation is not the best. The earthquake has changed our lives and our perception of things. Now the word “future” almost makes us afraid. But the hope that we can get back to normality is alive and strong: an indescribable desire makes us look forward to the future positively, although there are often moments of discouragement.
The discouragement of still having to walk through the rubble (dating from 24th August – it’s been six months) which inexplicably has not yet been removed from any of the hamlets of Montemonaco, and which it is not possible to remove or have removed privately. The discouragement of seeing that the only work of “making-safe” (partial) was done in a couple of churches thanks to the fire-brigade, but that the other precious features of our cultural heritage have remained exactly in the state to which they were reduced that day, partially collapsed or with the roofs caved in. The discouragement of realising that our small villages are inhabited mostly by the elderly (the few who remain) and soon these villages are going to be abandoned completely if there is not help at least with the removal of rubble and the making-safe of buildings.
There are so many things that are wrong. Every day we witness unexplained delays, bureaucracy everywhere, even over the removal of a tile fallen from a roof into the road. But emergencies are multiple, over a huge area, on many fronts and even more serious than ours, so it is obvious that our small communities are left until last even though it should not be the case.
Le Castellare needs consolidation work and structural reinforcement, which cannot yet be started because we are waiting for a special decree from the government which will provide the guidelines for the so-called “heavy reconstruction”, which is for the buildings with the most serious damage. It is nearly four months after the quake that rendered our guesthouse unusable and still we cannot do anything. Just wait. It’s painful to see, every day, those cracks which constantly seem to get bigger. That’s because small aftershocks are continuing and make the situation worse.
After the initial shock, which in part will always be with us along with the feeling of dizziness that did not allow us to think clearly, we asked ourselves what we were going to do. We said, “Let’s fix it right away and start again.” Yes, it would be nice but you cannot because since the state will finance the reconstruction, you cannot begin to restore a property privately unless you forego the financing.
The thought of all that we must go through becomes heavier each day.
And now a bit of good news! The “Yellow House”, the one opposite Le Castellare”, where my parents live, suffered minor damage and fortunately has been declared fit for use. So, after considering the fact that we cannot start immediately with Le Castellare and that we do not even know when we can actually start the restoration work or how long it will last, we decided to arrange the apartment on the top floor of the Yellow House for use as a tourist apartment. It needs some consolidation work and we need to change the interior because it is a little dated, so it will need a new layout of the rooms and also new services. But I’m sure this work can be achieved more quickly than Le Castellare as we do not need to wait for any decrees.
So, we have a new project which will start shortly, because we have to look ahead, because we cannot stay with our arms folded, because we want to restart as soon as possible, because we cannot succumb to bureaucracy even though we will have to come to terms with it, because inaction will destroy us, and because we believe that a future is still possible.
Many people in recent months have given us moral support and many have asked how they can help us. Please note that you can support this project by making a donation.
Here are details of how to support us by bank transfer:
BANCA INTESA SAN PAOLO to AMANDOLA Branch (FM)
Payable to: Angela Lea Fioravanti and Pietro Buratti
IBAN: IT08 X030 6969 3601 0000 0001 462
BIC / SWIFT: BCITITMM
REASON: DONAZIONE RISTRUTTURAZIONE APPARTAMENTO CASA GIALLA
Meanwhile, we thank you, the friends and people who follow us and show us their affection in so many ways , and all those who want to support this project with a small contribution!
Nadia Buratti 16.02.2017