Sarnano raises again

The earthquake destroyed Sarnano but not the wonders of the surrounding territory, its story, its typical products. And thanks to its many supporters and the courage of its citizens, it is recovering its splendour

The tremor at 7.30 on Sunday October 30, 2016, severely wounded Sarnano, which after an earthquake swarm had already suffered damages since August. Its boroughs are a pile-up of ruins, the city centre is damaged, many offices, schools, historical buildings and churches are condemned.  The displaced citizens of Sarnano are about 700, and have lost not just the possibility to return to their homes but also their jobs, their activities, their meeting places and, in practice, their normality.

“Immediately after the October earthquake, in spite of the high number of displaced people, everybody stayed in Sarnano: in the first days after the great tremor, about 400 people stayed in the civic indoor sports arena and were then accommodated into still habitable holiday-houses or in hotels. The fact that nobody left Sarnano was decisive for the recovery after the earthquake”, said mayor Franco Ceregioli. Indeed, Sarnano citizens showed that love for their hometown and wish to build a future are stronger, here, than discouragement and difficulties. They were helped by many who, though living elsewhere, left their heart in the alleys of Sarnano and offered not just sustaining and comforting words but also tangible support.

© A. Tessadori

A quick review showed that more than 1100 houses, both holiday and habitual residences, were damaged, along with three buildings hosting a nursery school, a kindergarten, a primary and a secondary school; irreparable damage suffered also St. James’ thermal baths, the little Theatre of Victory, the civic Art Gallery and museums, St. Mary of Piazza Alta’s Romanic cathedral, the Piobbico abbey and other public buildings and churches.

Almost all of the schools have been rebuilt already: the nursery school was financed partly with public money, partly through the sponsorship of Top Costruzioni, a firm from Abruzzo. The kindergarten was offered by Region Friuli-Venezia Giulia, the secondary school was a gift of the Andrea Bocelli and Only the Brave foundations. The primary school only needs being built, but work will start soon. The St. James’ thermal baths have been rebuilt in a record short time, in a new and modern location where the sources of therapeutic waters have been redirected. Now, further to the medical services and the therapeutic paths offered by the old establishment, the structure hosts a spa with a hydrolife path of thermal water, a Turkish and a Roman bath, emotional showers and an external pool of thermal water facing the Sibillini mountains. The civic art gallery was partially reopened; next summer other wings of the hosting palace will be opened, ad works by Crivelli, De Magistris and many other masterpieces it hosts shall again be accessible to visitors, along with the collection of ancient and modern weapons, the Museum of the Hammer and the one dedicated to the Appenine avifauna.

© A. Tessadori

Quite different is the situation of private buildings, which did not substantially change. About 180 dossiers were presented but, as mayor Ceragioli stated, “Unfortunately the approval procedures by the Reconstruction Department are rather long due to excessively complex and bureaucratic rules”.

However, due to the dedication of associations, citizens and the administrators, none of the events characterizing the Sarnano calendar was cancelled; on the contrary, this year it will be enriched with the first edition of the Sarnano Comix Festival, dedicated to the comic strips.  The Sassotetto ski resort stayed operational and in Christmas time the ice skating rink in Serafino Park was available as usual.

Alike, the earthquake stopped neither the Sarnano-Sassotetto car race, nor the week-end dedicated to the local leg of both the Italian Mountain Championship and the Italian Historical Cars Championship. Two August historical re-enactments, i.e. the “Palio del Serafino “ and the “Castrum Sarnani”, were not cancelled.

The Palio, which will get this year to its 30th edition, consists of a challenge between the four boroughs of Abbadia, Brunforte, Castelvecchio and Poggio which confront each other in popular games. To enact the Castrum Sarnani, the whole town moves back to the middle ages and brings back to life fortune tellers, blacksmiths, hawkers, knights, acrobats and ancient recipes. No cancellation stood the “Notte dei folli” (“Night of the fools”) either, because a little folly is always necessary: that is why in his Praise of Folly Erasmus of Rotterdam wrote: “Folly builds cities, empires, ecclesial institutions; the whole human life is but a game, the game of folly”.

In conclusion, there may be many ruins but Sarnano never fell down. Of all of its citizens hope that, after going back home, visitors who walked in the woods and on the mountains which surround the city, tasted its typical products and admired its historic centre, will tell its charms to those who do not know them yet.
Nothing better can be done to help, even before reconstruction is completed. Here are seven reasons why it is worth visiting Sarnano right now:

  1. Its historic centre. Even though some buildings are off limits, the medieval fortress still offers the emotion of a dive in the past.
  2. Skiing in front of the sea. One can ski and adimire the breathtaking panorama of the valleys which eastward, on the clearest morning, reaches down to the Adriatic sea.
  3. One hundred kilometres of paths, in the middle of woods, clearings and creeks, that can be walked or biked.
  4. Flying! Thanks to air currents favourable both in winter and in the summertime, and to the breathtaking panorama, Sarnano is one of the favourite places for paraglider and hang-glider lovers (also practicable with an instructor).
  5. Sarnano is the ideal starting point to go and discover the Sibillini mountains.
  6. Enjoying a moment of wellness. St. James’ thermal baths keep offering relax along with physical and psychological regeneration in their new location, at 28 De Gasperi Street.
  7. Tasting the typical products of the Sibillini mountains, especially local cured pork meat and the Sarnano speciality, the “Crostata al torroncino” (nugat pie).

by S. Brunori