249 – Christmas and the Living Nativity of the Village of Maranola

Maranola is a small medieval village overlooking the town of Formia on the South Lazio coast. Each Christmas-time the village puts on a wonderful “Living Nativity” known as the “Presepe Vivente“.  Many of the local people take part in this project, and ground floor rooms and cellars undergo a transformation. Here living scenes are created depicting the every day life of days gone by.  Some re-enact former occupations, ancient skills and crafts.










Many of the townsfolk are dressed in the traditional costmes of the ancient region of Ciociaria. This area takes its name from the word “ciocie“, which is an ancient form of footware, thought to date back to Etruscan times. It was a type of sandal, with a curiously curved toe, that was bound to the calf with leather laces. It was typically worn by the local shepherds and peasants of the area.



There are also scenes depicting the preparation of typical local produce.








Over the festive Christmas period Maranola has three editions of this event. These are normally held on the 26th December, New Years Day and on the day of the Epiphany, the 6th January.  Last year we attended the last event.

The sound of the pipes of the zampognieri heralded the arrival of the Three Kings bearing their gifts.


They all made their way to the stable when the charming Nativity scene was taking place. A local couple with a young baby played the roles of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus.



We really are hoping to visit Maranola again this Christmas. This is a very special local event – not to be missed.


Well may we take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and Peace and Goodwill to all.

We also wish you all the very best in the coming New Year.

Love from us all at Tre Cancelle

Louie and Paul, the Tre Cancelle “Woof-gang” and our growing menagerie


All photos by me © Louise Shapcott



Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga’s Beaches and Historic Itri

Discover South Lazio




247 – Minturno Festival of the Wheat Harvest and International Folklore Festival

Each summer at the beginning of July  the town of Minturno comes together to celebrate the Festa delle Regne or the Wheat Harvest Festival. This year marked the 63rd edition. The main feast day celebrations are held on the second Sunday of July when thanks are offered to the patron of the town, the Madonna delle Grazie.  Historically monks of the Franciscan order used to bake bread that was then distributed to the poor.

There is a procession throughout the old town where the statue of the Madonna and child is carried on a rustic cart decorated with wheat sheaves, and pulled by a pair of strong oxen.



There is also a parade of decorated carts and trailers, representing the harvest, that have been submitted by various neighbourhood groups. These are towed up to the main square of Minturno and a prize is generally awarded for the best design. The designs are incredibly intricate and detailed.











There is a long and colourful parade made up of various groups, these include characters dressed in elegant medieval costumes, sbandieratori or flag throwers and musicians.





The Associazione Folklorica di Minturno was formed in 1989 to strive to promote and keep alive the town’s popular traditions, culture and musical heritage. From a young age local children are encouraged to learn about their traditional heritage. There are dance classes organised to suit all ages and troupes of dancers are put together.


Throughout the year the skilled dressmakers of Minturno busy themselves by sewing fine costumes that are typical of this area.


photo by Melinda Abbott


photo by Melinda Abbott

The most famous Minturnese costume is called “la Pacchiana”.  This has the characteristic elaborate head-dress made of a starched and folded white linen or muslin cloth, which is edged in lace. There is a white blouse with full puffed sleeves, made of a finely pleated material, which are gathered just above the elbow. The laced bodice is richly embroidered in gold thread, and over this a cream-coloured shawl is worn over the shoulders, once again decorated with gold embroidery.




The skirt is long and black. At the front a black silk apron is worn, while at the back there is the addition of a special fold of red material known as a “pagnuccia”. The costume wearer is also adorned with abundant gold jewellery and large earrings.  Historically, these ornate costumes would have only been worn on special feast days or at weddings. Often the beautiful treasured costume would be passed down in families from mother to daughter. The men’s clothing typically consists of a black jacket, a white frilled shirt with wide sleeves, knee length trousers, a wide red band tied around the hips, black shoes and bright red stockings.



At the festival the groups perform numerous traditional dances such as the tarantella and the saltarella.

On the same Sunday evening as the Feast of the Wheat Harvest,  Minturno also hosts an acclaimed International Folklore Festival. This welcomes other dance troupes from around the world to share their cultural heritage and traditions. This year there were colourful performances by groups from Chile, Mexico, Macedonia and Maldova.




















In this cultural exchange dancers, singers and musicians from all around the world can meet up and share their traditional cultural heritage and ethnicity in an atmosphere of warmth, friendship, peace and harmony.

All photos are by me © Louise Shapcott (except those by Melinda Abbott above)



Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Holiday Apartments Near Sperlonga’s Beaches and Historic Itri

Discover South Lazio

245 – My New Website about Atina and the Val di Comino.

I am really passionate about this little hidden gem of a town that has panoramic views over the valley of the Val di Comino – an area of outstanding natural beauty. My maternal grandparents originated from this beautiful mountain community, so it is part of my ancestral heritage and my roots.


However, I used to find it somewhat frustrating that I couldn’t manage to find much information in English about this area, so I came up with the idea of creating a website in English all about Atina and the Val di Comino.  For over a year now I have been working on setting up a new site about the town of my Italian ancestral heritage – Atina.


Atina is situated in the province of Frosinone in the region of Lazio Italy, conveniently situated approximately midway between Rome and Naples. It is also only a short drive from the Abbey of Montecassino and the beautiful coastline of South Lazio.

Over the centuries Atina has experienced such an interesting history.  It was an important town even back in the times of the Romans and Samnites and it has been destroyed by earthquakes and rebuilt several times over the centuries.


Within the historic centre there are many places to explore such as the medieval fortified palace of the Cantelmo family, the beautiful cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and the nearby Palazzo Prepositurale.



Atina also has several other churches of interest,  archaeological sites to visit and local museums.




During the summer months there are many popular events held in the area such as the Feast of Santa Maria Assunta, the Atina Jazz Festival, the International Folklore Festival and the CantinAtina wine festival to name but a few.



photo © Mirko Macari


There are many interesting local products to sample, notably the Cannellini beans of Atina and the local wine Atina Cabernet Doc and as well as other traditional gastronomic delights.


It is also a great region for exploring the great outdoors and partaking in various sport activities such as treking, mountain biking, horse riding, climbing, canoeing and paragliding. Indeed this area has so much to offer.


I am hoping to translate the website into Italian and French and to add a blog which could be a supply interesting articles and publicise local facilities, festivals and events. I hope that my website may encourage more people, with connections with Atina and the Val di Comino in Ciociaria to come and discover more about this wonderful area.  

My new Atina website:  Atina Italy

I have also created a Facebook Group named “We Love Atina”. It is a great meeting place for people who have family with origins from this town, and who share my interest and passion. If you have a connection with Atina please do feel welcome to come and join us.

Facebook Group We Love Atina

All photos except where stated by me © Louise Shapcott




Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Holiday Apartments

Near Sperlonga’s Beaches and Historic Itri in South Lazio


244 – Atina Feast of Corpus Domini

The feast of Corpus Domini falls on the 9th Sunday following Easter. This festival is a real cultural community event where local people come together to create colourful decorative carpets to adorn the streets and squares of Atina. These designs are made using brightly coloured wood chippings and flowers.

A metal template is used to form the designs.







Piazza Marconi, the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and the Bishops Palace.







Several special altars are set up in various neighbourhood along the route of the planned procession, the main one being sited in the doorway of the old cathedral.











Also, along the way, apartment dwellers drape silk banners and beautiful lace trimmed linens from their windows and balconies.

For the solemn religious procession of the blessed sacrament, the parish priest wears an ornately embroidered wrap around  his shoulders. This he then uses this to hold the “monstrance” displaying the holy consecrated sacrament of the host which represents the blessed body of Christ.  Four proud staff bearers support a decorative canopy aloft, flanked by several dignitaries and cassocked youths carrying a crucifix and lanterns. The town band follows behind and many townsfolk join in the religious parade along the way. The procession slowly winds its way through various quarters of Atina.  At each of the special altars the priest offers prayers and blesses each of the districts.





When the procession arrives back to the piazza in front of the old cathedral, more prayers are offered and then the cathedral bells begin to joyfully ring out.  Finally a Benediction takes place in the cathedral to conclude the day’s celebrations.

All photos are by me © Louise Shapcott



Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Holiday Apartments Near Sperlonga and Itri

243 – The Lake of Posta Fibreno

During our grandson’s April visit to Italy we took time to explore the Lake of Posta Fibreno, which is located in the beautiful area of the Val di Comino in Italy. The village, of the same name, is perched on on a rocky ledge and has a splendid view of the valley and lake below.


The lake is in the shape of an elongated curve. It is a protected Nature Reserve measuring about 400 hectares.



The lake is fed by thawing snow and rainwater that has flowed down from the slopes of the mountains of the Abruzzi. As the rock is limestone much of the rainwater is channeled underground.  Where a pool of water collects the water becomes dispersed through springs into the lake.  Thus the water in the lake is icy cold and crystal clear, and remains at a constant temperature all year round.  Scuba divers enjoy exploring the lake due to crystal clearness of the water.



The lake has a curious “floating island” known as “la Rota” which has developed over the course of thousands of years due to an accumulation of peat, rhizomes, tree roots, plants and algae.  The thick mat of vegetation is not rooted to the bottom of the lake, so it drifts according the undercurrents  and the strength of the wind.  


Local fishermen use flat-bottomed boats, known as “nàue”, traditionally made of oak and propelled by the use of a pole or an oar.  It is thought that this type of boat was designed and first utilised thousands of years ago by the Samnite people. The lake contains an abundance of fish such as trout, carp, eels and freshwater crayfish. The lake is lined by weeping willow trees, by rushes and reeds and other aquatic plants.

It is a popular haunt of nature lovers and bird watchers.  Several nature trails have been created through the park and there is also restored watermill and a museum of local culture and tradition to visit. 


On the shoreline there are several bars and restaurants set beside the lake. There are also lovely spots to have a family picnic. It is a favourite place to visit on a Sunday afternoon by the locals.




We hired a pedal boat to further explore the lake. 





We saw numerous birds such as coots, ducks and herons. There were also some eager beavers who were busily collecting sticks to build their dams. Together with its unique natural beauty and eco-system the lake provides an ideal environment for many species of flora and fauna. 


All photos by me © Louise Shapcott



Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Holiday Apartments

Near Sperlonga’s Beaches and Historic Itri

Discover South Lazio

227 – Visit to Pastena

At the end of April we welcomed two lovely ladies, Lissa and Debra, from the USA.  This was to be their first trip to this area of Italy and Lissa was keen to visit her ancestral home of her family, namely Pastena.  Pastena is a small but picturesque medieval village which is in the province of Frosinone and belongs to the ancient region of Ciociaria.


As Lissa and Debra didn’t have a car we offered to drive them to Pastena, which is along an interesting route, passing through Fondi and then heading inland towards Lenola and beyond. Finally we reached the verdant plain of Pastena surrounded by  hills and mountains. Here the soil is rich and fertile thus agriculture has always been the mainstay of the economy in these parts.


As we approached Pastena we saw a hill which at its peak has modern sculptures representing the patron saints of the town, Sant’Elena and San Sinforo.



Lissa first wanted to call in at Pastena’s Register Office or Anagrafe in the Town Hall.


We were received by the registrar who seemed to be rather flustered and busy, and he insisted that he did not have time to look through the records to try and find out more about Lissa’s ancestors. However he did take details from her and promised to look for them during the next few days.  Feeling slightly deflated we went for a stroll around the old town.

Close to the Town Hall is a museum – “Il Museo della Civiltà Contadina e dell’Ulivo” or Museum of Country Life and Olive Cultivation.This is  housed in a palazzo which was once the home and an ancient olive m of the Trani family.  Among the interesting exhibits are the original old mill-stone and press, tools related to olive farming, tilling the soil, animal husbandry, wine making, cheese making, basket making, spinning and weaving of linen.  Also there are examples of traditional clothes, musical instruments and general domestic items of everyday Pastena life in times gone by.





Lissa also wanted the visit Pastena’s cemetery which was situated a little way out of town. She was hoping to find some of her ancestors’ graves.


We went back into Pastena to wander through the characteristic Medieval centre. At the highest point of the village is the main square and the church of Santa Maria Maggiore. On the facade are two niches which house images of the patron saints of the town.



We noticed that there were festive lights mounted throughout the town. We learned that the following day was the Feast of “Il Maggio” or “la Festa del’Albero della Cuccagna” -a festival to celebrate the coming of Spring.  We soon made plans to return the following day, with our friends Pat and Melinda, to see the celebrations for ourselves.


On the 15th April the local men go out into the woods to choose the best tall straight cypress tree. Once this has been selected a cross is carved out of the bark mark it.  At sunrise on the morning of 30th April many of the local men folk will gather around the chosen tree for a traditional ceremony where the parish priest recites prayers.  The master of ceremonies takes the axe and makes the first cuts into the tree, in the presence of the calf, with each of the participants taking their turn to wield the axe. The actual felling of the tree is marked by gun shots and a drum roll. The tree is then cleaned of the bark and branches etc.

There follows a ritual “funeral” procession for “the tree of sacrifice” that has been taken from the “sacred forest”.  Slowly but surely it is hauled up to the village with the help of a numerous pairs of strong oxen, lead by the sacred calf.







During the long procession loud firework were periodically set off, and  unnervingly groups of hunters shot rounds from their rifles and shotguns into the air.






We then walked uphill back towards the town. As we entered the square in front of the town hall we were spotted by the register who eagerly tried to flag us down.  He told Lissa he had looked in the registers and had found several more generations of Lissa’s family. He lead us into his office where he handed over the paperwork.  Lissa was happy and we were so pleased for her.  We took a photo of the Registrar, Lissa and Debra to remember this very special day.



Debra and Lissa

A little more about the “Il Maggio” festivities ….

On the 1st May the tree is cleaned in the main square, in front of the church of Santa Maria Maggiore.  The top of the tall tree trunk is adorned with May flowers of broom.  A hole is prepared and then the men work together using ropes to gradually winch the tree trunk into an upright position.

On the 3rd May, on the feast day of the Santissima Santa Croce, when the statue of Sant’ Elena on her throne is taken from the church and carried around all the districts of the town followed by a solemn procession.

Typically the womenfolk  have previously prepared a type of sweet bread / doughnut in the shape of a decorated ring called a Ciambellone, these are carried during the procession as a symbol of religious devotion.  The procession is accompanied by ceremonial gunfire.

Later in the day the tree trunk is raised into position in the main square, having been covered in grease. This is known as the “albero della cuccagna”. Then there is a competition amongst the young men of the village, when they attempt to scale the slippery pole. At the top there are prizes for the successful climbers. In the evening there are more celebrations of musical entertainment and fireworks.

The tree trunk remains in place in the square until September, when it is cut down and distributed as firewood to the local inhabitants of Pastena.

All  photos by me © Louise Shapcott

#pastena #festival #ilmaggio #familyhistory #spring #italy



Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga / Itri, South Lazio, Italy

71 – Atina – 2009 Gran Premio Dell’Arco Go Kart Race

Having enjoyed it so much last year, on the first Sunday of August we eagerly returned to Atina to watch the Gran Premio Dell’Arco, the Go Kart racing competition.  This year we took lots of photos of the event.


Just like last year, the designs of the carts were many and varied, the common theme being all “wheels” are made from Ball Bearing Races kindly donated by the manufacturer SKF of nearby Cassino.

Whilst not fully up to pace with all the design regulations, its seems carts can have three or four bearings  and these can be either large or small, or indeed a combination of both.  For months in advance the carts are lovingly crafted and tinkered with in the cellars and garages around the town, it has to be said some a little more seriously than others.


photo by ben woods






There are three driver age groups, the youngest driver age band being the Teenagers, then the 18 to 50 year olds, and finally the Seniors or over 50’s. Time trials are carried out throughout the morning of the event.  Each driver gets a lone run which is meticulously timed and determines their actual starting position on the grid.  Then  in the afternoon, after a good plate of pasta of course, the main races follow !!!


This year in addition to the normal fixed point cameras along the course, the events were recorded by an “eye in the sky” in the form of a helicopter camera man, and the event was recorded by a local radio station c.A.c. A c.a.S.


The course runs for a length of approximately 2.5 kilometres, starting from the main archway at the entrance of the old Centro Storico in Atina Superiore, and winds its way down to Atina Inferiore / Ponte Melfa on the valley floor below. 

3 members of our family were to take part:  Cousin Mario and his two sons Giuseppe and Simone.

Simone Massa

Simone Massa

Each race began with the sound system playing a loud rousing fan-fare to fully set the scene.  The  commentator then began the final countdown, and soon the competitors went careering off down the hill, fronted by a squad of motor bikes noisily beeping their horns.  In the square a large TV screen had been set up for the spectators to watch the rest of the race on the long winding road down to the finishing line.





Finally the ceremonial presentations of the trophies to the victors are held in the early evening. This year was more special for our family because we had a podium finish. Cousin Mario achieved second place in the over 50’s section, setting the standard for next year for his two sons to endeavour to supersede. 

Bravo Mario !!!






Also this year was special because in the middle category there was a lady driver on the podium for the first time ever.

Click here to see more of NonnaLou’s photos of the 2009 Go Kart Race

 Click here to read about the 2008 Go Kart Race  

Click here to see a Video of the 2009 events

Click here to see my Atina, Val di Comino, Ciociaria website


51 – New Homes For The Puppies

Last weekend the puppies were 8 weeks old, and fully weaned and thus ready to leave their mother.  We had to start thinking of how we could find good homes for them.  We decided to try placing some adverts on the internet (in Italian of course) …

“We are 4 sweet puppies, in good health, all looking for a good home, and love from a family or from people who are truly animal lovers. 

Not Hunters !!!

We are very affectionate and so much want to be loved and to play.”

The very same day we received several enquiries.  A young lady by the name of Oriana rang us to say she and her family were  very interested in adopting “Bertie”. She said that they lived  in Tuscany, so we had to work out a way of meeting up with her and her family.  Finally the meeting place was decided on, Ciampino airport. “Bertie” was wonderfully behaved during the journey, and as we drove into the entrance of the airport we could see the family eagerly awaiting us.   They had everything prepared, and had even purchased “Bertie” a stylish black diamonte collar and lead.  Unfortunately it was a little to large just yet.  They said they were thinking of renaming him.  He now has the stately name of  “Prince” !!!

Oriana and her "Prince"

Oriana and her "Prince"

"Prince" and his new family

"Prince" and his new family

On Sunday we received another phone call, this time from a little closer to home in Pontecorvo, which is situated about 40 km inland from Itri. A young chap called Massimiliano was interested in adopting one of the male pups. That afternoon he and his father drove down through the rain to find us.  On seeing the puppies they found it impossible to choose between “Alfie” and “Georgie”, so they ended up adopting them both, which we were pleased about, as they would keep each other company.    We have since been in contact with Massimilliano who emailed  to say that the puppies are very happy as they have a large garden to run around and play in and he has also kindly sent us some photos.  The family have also decided to rename them as “Atilla” and “Ringo” !!! 

Massimiliano and the 2 pups

Massimiliano and the 2 pups

"Attila" and "Ringo"

"Attila" and "Ringo"

Another email enquiry was from a young lady called Federica, who said she came from a family who were mad about animals, and that she lived in a villetta with a garden.  They already had one dog, but she wanted to surprise her family by giving them a second.  She asked us to help keep it a secret as it was to be a big surprise for her Mamma.  On Monday evening we drove to Frosinone,   “Maisy” proved to be a bit of a handful in the car, but eventually calmed down and went to sleep.  Fede have us good directions, we had arranged to meet in the car park of MacDonalds.  Federica and a couple of friends were waiting for us.  She took hold and cuddled Maisy immediately, and promised that the puppy would be well looked after. She also has been in further contact saying that the whole family have really taken to Maisy, and that she is happy, settling in and eating well.


Fede and "Maisy"

Fede and "Maisy"


We really hope that we can keep in touch with all three families and receive updates on the puppies’ progress. We have been invited to visit them all when we can, which will be a pleasure.










48 – Afternoon of Wednesday 8th April

At last we drove  into the historic centre of Atina, where my family live in the quaint narrow cobblestoned alley of Via Dolabella.  As always we were warmly welcomed.


The cousins soon began to tell us of their experiences on the night of the dreadful earthquake.  Mario awoke to a feel the bed violently shaking, along with all the other furniture in the house. He roused Mara and hurriedly got dressed.  They said it seemed as if the shaking and rumbling was never ending, the quaking just seemed to  go on and on.  I could see the fear in their eyes.  They said they did not know what to do.  Many of the buildings in the historic centre of Atina date back many centuries, and are built of rock with no anti-seismic protection, their own house from around 1600.  They were afraid to go outside for fear of being hurt by falling masonry, and there are no large open spaces near to their home where they could escape to.  Finally, thank goodness, the shaking subsided.

However, the following day (Tuesday) there had been more violent after-shocks, some only slightly weaker than the main one, which were just as frightening. This time Mario, who is a Fireman, was more prepared.  He had  placed a heavy hammer near the front door, in case they needed to get out and the door should become jammed. They prepared a bag of essential belongings and medication in case they had to vacate their home quickly.  They decided to hope for the best and to stay put, nervously listening to the deep rumbling, violent shaking whilst observing the pendant light fittings vigorously oscillating. These ongoing aftershocks continued to traumatise people in this region, and hamper rescue teams in their work. Everyone is very on edge.

This is not our family’s first earthquake experience.  In May 1984 there was a strong earthquake in the Val di Comino, with the epicentre near to San Donato, which badly damaged the town and the surrounding towns such as Atina.  After this devastating event our family had to live in tents and caravans for several weeks before they could return home.  Prior to that there were earthquakes recorded in this immediate area in 1901 and  1915.  This area has been ravaged by such earthquakes from time immemorial, in fact Atina was totally destroyed during an quake in 1349.  My Atina Website:  http://atinaitaly.com

* photo by david davies

* photo by david davies

We said our goodbyes to Mario and Mara, and headed off across the Val di Comino to San Donato to visit Antonella with a basket of flowers to try and lift her spirits.  She had learned that morning that two of her close student friends were found in the ruins of the student accommodation block in L’Aquila, that collapsed like a pack of cards in the earthquake.  They were sisters, Genny and Giusy Antonini, aged 22 and 24, who were studying biotechnology and nursing. Antonella was very upset naturally and said that she wanted to return to L’Aquila for the mass funeral of 205 of then 287 victims to be held there on Good Friday, which had been announced as a national day of mourning for the dead.

Antonella had been in L’Aquila that fateful night as she was due to sit an exam the following morning.  She began to recount her experiences of that dreadful night, how everything was shaking and things were falling all around her.  Still dressed in her pyjamas she grabbed her phone and decided to try and get out, having to move a heavy wardrobe that had toppled to get out of the door.  She said it had been really horrendous, and she had found hundreds of  people wandering around L’Aquila in a daze.  The shaking had seemed never to stop. As a few hours passed, the early morning light revealed the extent of the devastation. Even now it’s an experience that she feels hasn’t really sunk in. It seems inconceivable.  It is unlikely that she will be able to continue her studies in L’Aquila, as yet no one knows what will happen.

Antonella wishes to thank everyone for thinking of her and for their messages of  love and support.
We asked Elena what an earthquake sounded it like.  She said it was a terrifying thunderous roaring reverberation from deep in the bowels of the earth, a sound quite unlike any other.  “It feels as if the mountains are going to crumple on top of you”, she said.  The region had experienced a large number of  tremors since last October, which seem to have been steadily increasing in strength.

The following day , Thursday 9th  April, yet again there were numerous sharp tremors, the most severe registering 5.2 magnitude.  

This had been Italy’s worst earthquake for 3 decades.  Large areas of L’Aquila now stand in ruins, especially much of the historic centre with edifices that dated  back to the 13th century.  Many buildings that were supposed to have been built to anti-seismic regulations have collapsed. Many villages surrounding this town also suffered severe damage, one community Onno was totally destroyed.

mourn1The death toll now stands at 293, with more than 1500 injured. 28,000  people have been made homeless and have lost everything. Some of the more fortunate have been sent to stay in hotels on the Adriatic coast, however there are 17,000 still living in the hastily erected temporary tent camps, where they have to wait in long queues to receive food and drink, and endure smelly toilets, cold showers, no electricity and icy night time temperatures, rain and hailstorms. In fact some prefer to sleep in cars and also coaches brought in by the local authorities. 

Berlusconi has been in the limelight this week, wishing to be seen visiting the disaster area. We have recently been reading some of Beppe Grillo’s satirical blog reports in which he writes about  the Italian President, referring to him as “the psychotic dwarf  with the tar-smeared hair”.  This week during an interview for German TV  Berlusconi insensitively remarked:  “[The victims] have everything they need. They have medical care, hot food … of course, their current lodgings are a bit temporary, but they should see it like a weekend of camping.”  He is also reported to have told survivors of the Italian earthquake to lift their spirits by heading for the beach.  What a buffoon !!!


There is now to be an investigation into possible criminal blame regarding shoddy building work of  San Salvatore, Aquila’s hospital built in 2000 which was supposed to have been a state-of-the art earthquake proof building,  and now lies in ruins.  It is alleged that sea sand had been used, instead of normal sand mixed with cement (to increase the construction company’s profits). Experts say that the steel reinforcing rods in the concrete structure can become corroded by the salt in the sand with potentially fatal consequences. The construction firm which specialises in building hospitals is Impregilo, which has a monopoly on all major public works in Italy. This company also builds Waste Incinerator Plants and is also implicated with the Camorra in the mismanagement of waste disposal in Naples, which caused last year’s waste crisis, and are in line to get the contract to build the Messina Bridge to link Sicily and Rome, and several new Nuclear Power Stations.  Scary or what !!!