Italy is one of the most tectonically active countries in Europe, with two major fault lines running through the country. Thankfully, our area is one of the more stable and while quakes can occasionally be felt in our locality, the area is generally considered to be lower risk than many.
Of course, donation centres were soon set up to send aid to the affected towns, and on Friday afternoon we took 8 packs of bottled water to the Circolo (the village club) in Pietrabuona where the guy who runs it, Emanuele, had set up a water collection point on behalf of the local AVIS group (the volunteer-run association that coordinates blood donation and collection) in advance of the Protezione Civile di Pescia taking a trip to the affected area with emergency supplies. We learned that Emanuele himself had been just 30km away from the epicentre of the quake, having been visiting his wife's family, and had woken to see the room shaking for more than two minutes. It's not hard to understand why he was so keen to do something to help.
We now know that close to 300 people were killed by the quake, well over 300 were injured, and 2,500 have been left homeless. An article here contains links and information on various ways in which anyone wishing to help - either in Italy or in the rest of the world - can do so.
Our week was fairly quiet, although we finished the weekend with a visit to one of our own local festas, the Sorana bean festa.
For the festa we'd arranged to meet up with our friends Paul & Kathy, so after picking them up we headed to Sandrino's bar just outside the village for a quick spritz to get into the party spirit before heading up the hill into the village where the main event was happening. Once in the village we ran into our mutual friend Carolyn and had a short catch up with her, as well as meeting and having a good chat with Paul & Kathy's friend and neighbour Kelly for the first time. We even won a pot plant on a game of 'corks' - pick 10 different corks, each of which has a number hidden on the bottom, and depending on the total scored when the numbers are all added together, you win a prize... We won the 'top' prize:
Ironically, by the time we all decided we were hungry enough to tuck into the local speciality, they had actually run out of the main white bean dish! After standing in the queue for a while wondering if any more plates of beans were going to arrive, we decided we would make do with a different, tomato-based bean dish, and we hungrily tucked into sausage and beans, and very tasty grilled salt cod.
We had a great time at the lively little event, and agreed that this was definitely one of the festas that we would make a point to come back to again next year.
|Table football tournament outside the Circolo.
|A stunning spot. The village festas are usually fund-raisers, often for the parochial society or else for the local misericordia - the volunteer-run ambulance service.
|The party atmosphere continued long into the night.
I'll leave you with a small pictorial round-up of the rest of the week:
|One day's worth of tomato crop sorted.
|Black figs - tiny but oh so sweet and delicious. Picked from the small tree that we only planted 17 months ago.
|Last week's guests had only booked to stay for three nights but ended up staying for a whole week because they liked it so much! They even left us a gift.
|Reggie enjoyed splashing about in the river on Saturday morning - we found a lovely quiet, cool, shady spot where he splashed around while we sat on the rocks being entertained by his antics.