We Have Not Forgotten

As mentioned in a previous blog, I am publishing my first book titled “Breaking Bread in L’Aquila”. The book has a collection of 49-recipes that are simple, fresh and rustic. The recipes are primary adaptations from a trattoria, San Biagio, owned by two brothers. We used to eat at this small and charming trattoria all the time. It was our home away from home!

On April 6, 2009, there was an earthquake in L’Aquila, the region of Abruzzo. It was devastating and also sad to hear about my late husband’s hometown that I grew to love.

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. Here’s the link: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/24/arts/24abroad.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1262624698-P4Cn8IYifWRMgyaAdK4+NQ

I appreciate Michael Kimmelman’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. 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 the net 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.

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