IRPINIA – The sorrow I witnessed

On November 23, 1980, when I heard the news of the earthquake in Irpinia, I couldn’t leave Milan immediately, but as soon as I was free, I left.
I felt a certain restlessness because I was going to meet the disasters of an earthquake, but I was also happy to see, after years, Southern Italy, the ancient and unfortunate land of my parents.
I arrived in Sant’Angelo dei Lombardi amidst boulders and debris and, after the tiring climb to the top of the town, the horror of the collapsed buildings appeared to me: the town hall, the hospital, the school, the barracks, the churches , everything had been destroyed by the earthquake.
The disfigurement that nature had inflicted on the population was also reflected in the faces of the people. The agony and despair of the first hour that I had not witnessed was replaced by bewilderment. They looked up from the sidewalk to make sure something was still standing. In the streets the silence, which followed the great confusion of vehicles and people of the early days. There were no more journalists or photographers, I was the only one left to photograph after the earthquake.
I stayed for days in Sant’Angelo, sleeping in the car and eating canned food, as if hypnotized by the strength of those inhabitants who, despite the cold, the rain and the thousand inconveniences, had decided not to resign themselves, not to abandon their territory. < br />
This experience has deeply rooted in me the awareness of how impermanent everything is: things, houses, us.