About L’Aquila

On April 6, 2009, there was an earthquake in L’Aquila, a region of Abruzzo. It was devastating and also sad to hear about my late husband’s hometown, which I grew to love. It was the one place where we shared the fresh, clean, and incredibly tasty flavors of the region. We would eat at our favorite trattoria, San Biagio, owned by two brothers, our cucina away from home.

During my visit in October 2004, I was inspired to fulfill my lifelong dream to write a book. Although I wondered at the time if the cookbook was my way of dealing with my grief, I also knew that there was magic in the idea. The recipes that the brothers shared with me inspired me to recreate tastes in my own versions and words.

The birth of my first book, Breaking Bread in L’Aquila, will be launched on April 6, 2010, on the earthquake’s first anniversary: it will be both a baptism and celebration. I want people to know that we have not forgotten. My recent visit to L’Aquila was filled with grief, and I decided to donate a portion of the net profits of my book to L’Aquila as my way to help re-build this beautiful city. We are resilient as a culture, and, with your support, we can make this happen!

I wanted to share with you my response to Michael Kimmelman’s article “An Italian City Shaken To Its Cultural Core,” which appeared in the New York Times on December 24:

I appreciate this article’s realistic treatment of the issues and challenges with which L’Aquila is now faced. I was in L’Aquila at the end of September, and I saw first-hand the scaffolds, tents, red zones, and emergency relief volunteers working to help.

My response comes from a place of understanding grief. Just as with a personal loss, people are often very attentive at the first. Then, after a while, fewer people check in. Finally, you are faced with the reality of picking yourself up and dealing with the loss. The people of L’Aquila are grieving for the city that they call home. When we move from an environment, lose our jobs, or deal with the death of a loved one, it can be challenging. But imagine that the place you call home is now gone. Can a new home ever replace the memories of this lost space? I don’t think so.

Things will never be the same. How could they? But we need to continue to help and to not let the people of L’Aquila become discouraged.

When I was leaving L’Aquila on my short visit in September 2009, in the lobby sitting next to me was an older woman. We made eye contact. I smiled, and she asked me what I was doing in L’Aquila. I told her that I was finishing my book and that I had wanted to see L’Aquila once more before I could put closure on my book’s introduction. She looked at me and said, “Don’t forget about us.” I was moved, and, my eyes wet with tears, I promised her that I would help by donating a portion of the profits of my book to L’Aquila.

My marketing campaign is “We have not forgotten.” I hope to sell millions of copies in support of L’Aquila.

Yes, it won’t be same. Perhaps with the “new,” and with time, people will fall in love with their city and appreciate what they have. But it’s hard right now for them to feel blessed when they have a lot to grieve.

It’s my daily affirmation.

Maria Filice