Last October I wrote about the devastating earthquake which suddenly destroyed Amatrice and several other small Lazio and Umbria villages on August 24, with a subsequent event on October 30 causing extensive damage in Norcia and the nearby territory, fortunately, without loss of human lives. Thanks to the generosity of the home décor store Solari, the restaurant Stino da Napoli and the travel agency Diana, all in Rocky River, OH, we were able to quickly organize a very successful sale of raffle tickets and a wonderful “Pasta alla Amatriciana” dinner which all together raised around $20,000 for the relief of the earthquake victims! We are sure that many more communities in the U.S. and all over the world have also contributed to this wonderful cause.
Villa Pulcini is a tiny hamlet between Lazio and Umbria, with a population of no more than 20 people. I visited this area last year and brought back incredible memories and images to share. The Church of the Santo Crocifisso, dating from the XV Century, is seen in the small main square (fig.1) surrounded by narrow vicoli with very colorful old homes, stables and storage locales (fig. 2). The square itself is simple and very quiet (figs. 3,4). Here I met Nazzareno, a new friend, together with Silvio, his white mule (fig. 5), as I was wandering around the village in total disbelief. Nazzareno was born and raised in this region and for many years he lived in Rome operating an antiquity store; tired of the “fast-paced” urban life, he ultimately came back home to his ancestors’ village to live a very simple, quiet life in the countryside. Here he takes care of his small farm (fig. 6) with the family sheep, chickens and other animals (fig. 7). A pile of firewood (fig. 8) was ready for the arriving winter; an old and very small cemetery (fig. 9) was just outside the village where, for centuries, relatives had been laid to rest. As I drove back home, the view of the surrounding mountains, already snow covered, and of the valley beneath (fig. 10) was spectacular and extremely captivating in its beauty.
Fortunately, Nazzareno, his animals and his tiny village have not suffered any significant damage during the last few months, even though the persistent tremors were felt repeatedly. They will continue to live in this region, where earthquakes have occurred for centuries, determined to protect their heritage and their simple but happy way of life. As I often think about these events, I feel fortunate to have met such a courageous man, giving me a “face” to refer to versus the statistics and the arid news clips we all have shared.