The 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck at time when many visitors were arriving in Amatrice for an annual festival honoring the famous pasta dish created in this town. It is called Pasta Amatriciana — a dish made with pork jowl, tomatoes, white wine, chili pepper and pecorino cheese. It is so popular it has been enshrined on an Italian stamp. The festival that honors Amatriciana has traditionally been held in the final Sunday of each August. This would have been their 50th annual celebration this coming weekend.

Amatrice is a small village inhabited mostly by older people – the youth having left the isolated village to find work in the cities.   But during the summer and especially at the time of this festival, many relatives come to spend time with their nonni. Often parents leave their children there with their grandparents for the summer. So, it is especially harsh that this disaster has happened now.

Amatrice before the earthquake: Photo by TripAdvisor
Amatrice before the earthquake: Photo by TripAdviso

Due to the influx of visitors arriving in Amatrice for Sunday’s food festival, authorities are not yet sure how many people were in Amatrice when the quake struck. About 70 were believed to be staying in the Hotel Roma, a town landmark that serves the famous pasta dish. Rescue crews pulled five bodies from the rubble of the hotel but had to halt rescue operations at night when conditions became too dangerous in the dark.

 Also the nearby hilltop towns of Accumoli and Pescara del Tronto were left in ruins by the earthquake, which could be felt 140km away in Rome. In some places, there are only large stones where buildings once stood. In others, there is only sky. You can see in the photo that the clock tower is still standing, but frozen at 3:36 when the quake hit.

Before and After Amatrice:
Before and After Amatrice:

Italian Red Cross rescue teams have been supporting the search and rescue effort.  So far, 247 people are known to have been killed and 368 injured as homes and buildings collapsed.  Several people, including children, have been pulled alive from the rubble.  They also sent search and rescue teams, search and rescue dogs and 20 ambulances out to look for people.  Volunteers have been providing first aid and emotional support to survivors in the region, which has been struck by more than 80 aftershocks.  With heavy lifting equipment just starting to reach the isolated villages, people used tractors, farm equipment and simple hand tools to break through what was left of old stone villas.  More than 1,000 people have been displaced by the quake. 

Meanwhile, chefs in Italy and around the world have rallied together, using their talents and Amatrice’s signature pasta dish, to help raise money for victims.  Food blogger Paolo Campana has launched the campaign #AMAtriciana in coordination with restaurants around Italy who will match 1 euro donations by clients ordering this dish; funds will be sent to the Red Cross.amatriciana

The Ministry of Arts in Italy has announced that entrance fees to state museums on Sunday August 28, 2016, will be donated to the affected areas. Also, the Antinori family will be donating all entrance fees from visitors to its winery in Chianti on Sunday August 28, 2016, the day when there would have been the pasta festival.

If you would like to donate, you can easily do so at this web address for the International Red Cross. The amount will be in British pounds, but will be converted to USD when it is taken from your PayPal account.

If you would like to prepare Pasta Amatriciana in memory of the lost lives, the injured and those who have lost their homes, click here for a recipe of this famous dish.




  1. An importante Blog….Thank You for sharing Jan….

  2. Great informative blog as it encourages all of us to contribute to this unparalleled Italian community disaster.

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