On the night of January 14, 1968, a massive earthquake struck a wide area of western Sicily, the Belice. Three small countries, Gibellina, Salaparuta and Poggioreale, were hit hard by the earthquake, destroyed, as sucked into the ground. The houses, for the most part, built with tuff collapsed in a few minutes.
If Gibellina and Salaparuta, nothing is left of the old towns, Poggioreale remained the whole urban system, most of the houses, churches and some public building. Along the main road that leads to Poggioreale, in the car, I begin to see some ruins, the sense of death and destruction also enters the soul, bringing with him an unreal atmosphere of quiet.
There is almost a silent agreement between nature and what remains of the Poggioreale. From a distance, the ruins of the old country seem to merge with the landscape that welcomes them. The colors have faded, the buildings blend in with those of the camps, and day after day, these "stones wounds" die increasingly eroded by wind and rain.
The tragedy of the Belice seems to be forever now told by the deserted streets of the town and its buildings empty, without soul.
Poggioreale is a monument to the memory; fascinates and disturbs but at the same time arouses anger and dismay at the state of abandonment that maybe now hurts more than the earthquake.
I walk the main street of the country, Corso Umberto I. Beautiful facades of palaces still leave reveal the beauty of the past, the city library adjacent to the elementary school. In front of the Town Hall and, then, what remains of the municipal theater.
Finally, I arrive in the Elimo square, the heart of the ancient center. A staircase rises up to what remains of the Church.
Walk to the small crosses, I observe that remains of small traces of a life that no longer exists. In case death, some waving curtain or some tax flapping to the rhythm of the wind that seems to blow gently on those remains. That table and those chairs, those empty bottles, doors open at nothing ethereal presences that touch my soul. Each of these objects has stories to tell because each of them was entrusted the memory. On each of these objects is placed a thin layer of dust, the dust of the past.
The stones of Poggioreale seem to speak to me, and tell each day of a time irretrievably lost. Abandoned over the years by its inhabitants survived the earthquake, Poggioreale tries in every way to stand up, do not want to be forgotten.
Everyone has forgotten the old country. Even the local Administrators, too distracted by the interests of politics, have been forgotten on this earth, of this place. The dignity of a people humiliated in earthquake place. Ghettoized an entire people, crammed into tiny tin shacks. A drama that has become the general disillusionment.
The silence has now fallen through the narrow streets of the old center, the country is crumbling house after house. Those "stones wounds" die every day more and more like when after a day of rain every house can not hold her stones that cruelly fall helpless to ruin in the streets.
Only silence, an infinite and sacred silence between the stones wounds.