Remembering Abruzzo – Five Weeks Later

It has been five weeks since the devastating earthquake in Abruzzo. The earthquake hit on April 6 at around 3:38 am. I haven’t yet written about it because I wanted to find the right tone but then I saw that some blogging colleagues were trying to drum up attention to bring people to the region for the holidays, an initiative that I would also like to support. Well done Dobianchi and Alfonso One of Abruzzo’s main industries is tourism. It is a beautiful place with rolling hills, a very large park called the Gran Sasso, enchanting medieval villages on hillsides and many fabulous wines. Parts of the region are surely effected by the damage from the earthquake but numerous other areas are absolutely open for business. Abruzzo is still rural in many areas and can be a wonderful place for a holiday. I went to Abruzzo five years ago specifically to visit L’Aquila and a church I wanted to see Santa Maria di Collemaggio, built in the 13th century by Pietro da Morrone who later became Pope Celestine V. He held his cornation in the church and is buried there.

My mom had bought me a map of L’Aquila by mistake when she was looking for a map of Aquileia, a town in Friuli with a fabulous Roman basilica. The map sat in my house for five years before my visit. Once there, I couldn’t believe my good fortune at having “discovered” this amazing city, region and people. Abruzzo also has a fascinating history of resistance during World War II. The Abruzzesi are a notoriously stoic and resilient people.

Santa Maria di Collemaggio

I am going to post a photo of how the church looked then. Click here to see how it looks now. It breaks my heart to see Art and Architecture, two of my great loves, destroyed. Nothing however is quite as devastating as the photos of those who lost their loved ones or the look of fear in children and elderly people’s eyes in the days following the big quake.

A photographer, Alessio Occhiocupo, from Abruzzo was kind enough to share some of his photos of Abruzzo’s wine country.


These photos make me want to jump on a plane and head to Abruzzo tomorrow. The day before the quake, I had been tasting wines in the Abruzzo Pavillion at Vinitaly.


On April 6, the entire area where the Abruzzo producers had been was dark and everyone had left. While some wineries were damaged during the quake, the biggest hit comes from the devastation that impacted local restaurants and bars. According to a post by Eric Asimov on his blog The Pour, between 10%-50% of the wine produced in the region is sold locally.

My next posts will be about the producers I met from Abruzzo. Tonight though, I will definitely have a glass of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. I invite all to do the same and toast to the living and those who are gone from that beautiful region of Italy.


  1. “Luckily”(a strange word to be used in such a scenary) damages were heavy but less than in other churches and monuments, especially inside L’Aquila. The facade is almost intact, or at least this is what is referred. And the fountain of 99 spouts is miraculously entire…
    But inside all the good wave of solidarity and patriotic words there is a much more subtle danger for Abruzzo land: the rebuilding, which in Italy has often led to “obscure” businesses and horrible results. If, as Cathedral of Noto can demonstrate, repair monuments can be “easy” and somehow healty, sometimes (Collemaggio had bad interventions during the 20th century that also denatured its original structure..). WHat I am really afraid of is what will happen to Abruzzo landscape under the cover of urgency, which allows anything (you can see here:

    Please, help us to pay attention also to this..

    • Antonio, I understand exactly what you are talking about and will write about that aspect of the problems of rebuilding after the devastation. I was glad to know that the facade and the fountain are fine. Some of those photos of destruction just take my breath away. Thanks for commenting.

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