As you alight at Equi Terme railway station the first sight that greets you is not a happy one.
The station was one of the first casualties of the earthquake of 21st June this year which registered 5.2 on the Richter scale, left the town isolated for several hours and forced the inhabitants to sleep out in tents for days. What’s worse, Equi Terme railway station is only partly used for passengers. Most of it is (or was) occupied by a pasta-making small business. We only hope that the pasta-makers manage to find new premises and that none of them have lost their jobs.
Descending into the newer part of Equi Terme, as I did yesterday, we pass the house of Signora Vinicia, the grand old lady of Equi Terme who has offered us hospitality for the past seven years we have been privileged to take part in the presepe vivente (or living crib) of this charming town high up in the Lucido valley. The house is still largely inaccessible to the Signora and you can see why:
Unfortunately, Signora Vinicia (who is well over 90 and still runs her shop selling everything from newspapers to woolies) had been taken ill that morning and rushed to hospital so I couldn’t greet her. We sincerely wish her the best and hope to see her again soon.
The inhabitants appeared to have returned to the houses in the picturesque old town which is placed near the ancient Teca di Equi Terme or cave system (where they have found the skeletons of Palaeolithic cave bears).
The centre of the town is now largely open to the public. The biggest complaint was (not surprisingly) that help from the authorities was not forthcoming and that funds had not been issued yet to compensate those who had to make the damage good in their houses. Everyone agreed that it had been a terrifying experience and Equi’s older residents remember 21st June 2013 as even worse than the one that occurred during the sixties.
Let us hope that the town will truly pick itself up in time to host again the presepe vivente this christmas season, a much needed source of income for Equi Terme and one in which our old colleague Prof. Giovanni Fascetti (seen in the photo above with Signora Vinicia) has put so much energy.
This year the event should be even fuller of symbolic meaning – a re-birth from out of the shades of social death the charming borgo was threatened with on that never-to-be-forgotten midsummer day’s nightmare: 21st June 2013.