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The forgotten amatriciana

Something has moved, thanks to the Academy’s help.

Two and a half years after the earthquake which struck central Italy, conditions in the worst-affected areas appear in limbo: the usual rubble, almost no reconstruction, only prefabricated yellow emergency shelters in bad repair. After the parading politicians (of all stripes), the solemn promises, and the generous contributions by many citizens, little or nothing has been done to tidy up, rebuild and return some dignity to those who have most keenly suffered the deaths of loved ones and the destruction of homes and businesses.
The budgeted 15 billion Euros have not been spent, having been stalled by a devilish morass of inefficient coordination, pared-down offices whose approval is necessary for projects to proceed, the asphyxiating bureaucracy of project competitions, and the fear of being investigated on procedural technicalities. The Italian Academy of Cuisine, with considerable tact and generosity, gathered approximately 100,000 Euros to be distributed among twenty-odd restaurant, livestock and agricultural businesses. The funds were immediately delivered directly to these beneficiaries.
The Academy then awarded the Orio Vergani Prize (a machine worth 10,000 Euros) to the devastated Amatrice Hotel Institute which had been “temporarily” transferred to Rieti. Speaking of the Hotel Institute, let us be honest: who knows if it will ever be rebuilt in Amatrice, and even if so, who would wish to study, work and live in a depopulated ghost town, by now inhabited only by the elderly, bereft of any social and economic fabric? Nowadays, in the words of an Academician living in Amatrice, the atmosphere there is sombre and saturated with resentment and anger. People are stuck, passive, embittered. They keenly feel that there is no overarching plan for getting things done, no coordination of reconstruction efforts, no resurgence of productive activity.
Occasionally buses arrive, emblazoned with the slogan “Lunch in Amatrice”: tourists eat in the (donated) ‘Food’ area, purchase “amatriciana kits” and immediately depart. We are proud of what the Academy has achieved, within its limitations. We are comforted by the thanks of those receiving our contributions. Among many, I cite the touching words of two beneficiaries: a restaurant and a cheese-making establishment.                                                                                                                                  

“I whole-heartedly wish to thank you again, on behalf of the entire staff, for your kindness and responsiveness in aiding those who, like ourselves, resolve to continue investing in this quake-ravaged land, maintaining the daily struggle against innumerable difficulties. Your contributions were invested for purchasing furnishings and equipment for the bar that we opened in March 2017 to serve everyone who remained here even in the direst months, while waiting to reopen our restaurant in the ‘Food’ area. Thanks, with all our hearts”.

Giovannino Hotel and Restaurant


“We remain grateful for your concrete and substantial assistance. With your help, we managed to improve our production process and acquire new equipment for our cheese workshop. Following the quake which struck us, we rolled up our sleeves to the point of increasing production, which might appear foolhardy considering the undiminished emergency that surrounds us. Thanks again for your wonderful help”.

Antonio and Paola Aureli

Paolo Petroni
President of the Accademia

February 2019