It’s 7 o’clock in the morning and people are already milking cows. In Accumoli’s sheds priority is still feeding cattle, putting sheep out to pasture, butchering pigs. In the meanwhile the earth continues to shake. But they don’t want to betray the animals they call by name. They lost their homes, their towns have been destroyed and all other inhabitants have fled, and yet farmers and cattle-breeders remain facing the most violent seismic swarm over the last three decades. There are people who go on working to redeem the lives lost, the dispersed communities, the marred places. They work believing once again that earth could be tamed, that nature could return to be friendly. They don’t want to surrender to a broken existence which the quake transplanted elsewhere, don’t want to leave their animals. They work because it can’t be done otherwise. Working places must be preserved. From the farmers’ cooperatives up to the little entrepreneurs and the few factories, these are the motivations of who wants to remain in spite of the evacuation order. Now the main issue is to sustain occupation.
Texts, photos, videos and editing by Angela Zurzolo (email@example.com)
ORIGINAL ITALIAN VERSION
Translated by Libero Bruno
BEHIND THE WINDOWS you can see lace curtains. Chairs on which the elderly used to sit are still in front of their doors, cranesbills in their vases, differentiated refuse collection bins stands by the doors. Cats sit in front of the churches. And all around all hell broke loose, twice.
QUAKE WAS MERECILESS on the red zone in Accumoli, now a ghost town, where some details tell that until days before life was thriving there. Now the entire town has been evacuated. New quake destroyed even what was already in debris. Little towns on Salaria road were reduced to cemeteries.
THE SILENCE ON THE SQUARES in Accumoli’s red zone is similar to that of the other central Italy’s towns which were equally struck by the seismic swarm. 23.300 shocks have been counted until now. But, to a watchful eye, here isn’t just a desert of rubble. Someone resist until they can. At Illica and Grisciano just as in Accumoli farmer are not going to live.
AT THE ENTRANCE OF GRISCIANO, a hamlet of Accumoli, restaurant La Vecchia Ruota is in full swing. Ferndando, a 50 year old temporary worker and father of two sons, came back to work there for two weeks in October. La Vecchia Ruota in Grisciano has restarted just one month after the earthquake of August: eleven customers, the men of the fire brigade and volunteers. It seems that there is no other place where firms’ and workers’ destinies coincide so much.
ONE OF THE BIGGEST FIRMS IN THE AREA is salami factory Sa.no at Grisciano, where a 26 year old man from Amatrice was killed by the earthquake. Nobody wants to talk about it. Many workers here lost their homes, their friends and relatives. They cling to work to go on. After the first quake in August, the firm didn’t stop its activities and Coop decided that 15% of proceeds will go to the reconstruction of the town. “We began to employ some of the people living in the tents” told us CEO Franco Castelli, who, until a couple of weeks ago, hosted the town operation headquarters, environmental services and the fire brigade in the area around the factory. Thanks to an increasing turnover, the salami factory recruited ten new workers and it’s planning a further increase in the staff. They will stay in spite of everything.
SMALL RETAILERS AND TRADESMEN are irretrievably bowed by the crisis following depopulation and forced shutdown. Sara, an agronomist who owns a little hothouse and farming at Grisciano, said “We undertakers are still here but life around us is missing”. “We are fourteen people here, all farmers” She added.
FUTURE SEEMS TO BE DOOMED Breeders and farmers hang on their firms, they won’t give in. For some time now they have been looking to how work employment could be preserved. Mario, for example, chairman of cooperative “Grisciano”, which is part of Legacoop, said that he’s planning to open a dairy. ”We will experience a drop in clients and maintaining employment just through the meat work-room and our holiday farm would be very difficult” he concluded. Patrizia, also a member of the cooperative, is worried about the holiday farm. Meat processed by the firm is merchandised by Eataly but to sell it we must refer to markets in Rome. Holiday farm is already empty and working conditions became still harder. “Should a cow suddenly want to calve, then we have nobody in town to refer to” She said.
FROM ROMANIA TO GRISCIANO: A NEVER ENDING FEAR “Sometimes I would like to go away but, once I think about my family, I change my mind immediately deciding to stay here”. Working is more important now than ever. Adriano was at home with his family on that day. “Flakes of plaster began to fall down. My wife and I took our children and went out. Houses were collapsing in front of us” He recounted it in a moved tone.
FROM SENEGAL TO MAKE ACQUAINTANCE OF THE QUAKE Adriano’s co-worker had never experienced what an earthquake is until that day. “I went out without shoes nor garments” He recalls. “I was lucky because the room I was staying in didn’t collapse, otherwise I would have died in there”. “My mother told me: come back to Senegal. She’s worried. I would come back too. If I had died here, I couldn’t see my mother, brothers and sisters anymore”. But returning home is difficult and expensive. Now he can’t afford it.
THE COWS: “When I was 13 I began buying my first animals. I started to work in the countryside 21 years ago. You can do this kind of work only for love” Adelio explained. He runs a firm in San Benedetto di Amatrice and works for the cooperative at the same time. He continued with saying “Every morning I get up at 6 in spite of the quakes. Now I live in my father’s home in San Benedetto because it’s safer. I follow all the phases of cows’ life from their birth to when they calve. Every cow has a different face, a different character, a particular feature”.
DAMAGES “During the earthquake, cows got hurt to their hoofs because they stamped on some pieces of glass” Adelio said worried. Sheds are undamaged, but he fears that the economic cycle could stop forever as at Erto and Casso, two little towns that were also hastily abandoned but their inhabitants never came back. Young people who find a job elsewhere usually don’t come back, only the elderly remain. For the moment, who as Adelio runs a farm is going to stay because they can’t leave their animals alone.