The snapshot of the L’Aquila’s historic center is a sky crisscrossed by cranes. The gaze stops, even quieter, propped between off-limits buildings and roads. With the inscription, which begins to fade, “Red Zone”, or off limits to all passages, even pedestrian.
The arms of the mechanical vehicles make up a forest, they stand out everywhere, they almost fight for a little bit of blue, staring from the top of tattered buildings; standing gashes of stately buildings, deformed and unhinged shutters and pieces of toilets and closets that doze among piles of dust inside gutted apartments, behind doors closed with chains and padlocks.
Usually, there is a swarm of workers. Seven years after the earthquake that devastated the capital of Abruzzo and the surrounding area at 3:32 of April 6th, 2009, causing 309 deaths and more than 1,500 wounded, it is still a disoriented city.
Times get longer
It was promised that reconstruction would be completed by 2017. But the forecasted completion times are still very long. Downtown, several businesses have reopened timidly as well as some public offices, including the Mayoralty offices. But compared to the activity before the disaster, it is just a small part.
And only resignation can be read in the eyes of those who have returned here to work and to invest. “One works mainly with workers – the traders say -. Sales languish, but we must move forward. And when the masons clock out, it’s like if a sort of curfew punches out. ”
“When the earthquake happens, is not limited to a few seconds of shock. It goes on until the wake of the damage caused is repaired. Those material damages as well as the social, mental and psychological ones. Because the earthquake gets inside you and does not let you go. Because of this – reflects the journalist Enrico De Pietra – I would not speak of seven years after the earthquake, but of 7 years of earthquake. Seven years in some surreal environment, during which, at least apparently, we got used to everything: our dead, the diaspora, the return, the insecurity, impermanence, the desertification of the historical center, the quarrels and malfeasance. But there is one thing we have not gotten used to: not to be able to have the prerogatives of an ordinary provincial community, beginning with the opportunity to meet one another without arranging an appointment. There is a shortage of places for this; not places built ad hoc, but the everyday sites. And for the Aquilani, these places were in the old town. The neighborhoods around are almost entirely rebuilt and repopulated, but there’s no way, they were not born to be autonomous and aggregating. Today – he highlights – you enter the heart of the city, we observe it from a distance, and you understand that they are working at full capacity. ”
There are more than 420 active construction sites.
“The fact is, though, it is still a suspended place. Official estimates – he adds – indicate that by 2022 the heart of L’Aquila will be totally rebuilt. But no one, not even those who produced these estimates, can honestly say with certainty whether the forecast will be respected. ”