All money generated from ticket sales by Italy’s museums and other cultural attractions on Sunday has been donated to the earthquake relief effort. The initiative was announced last Thursday by Italy’s Culture Minister, Dario Franceschini, as ‘a show of solidarity’ with the people in areas affected by the huge earthquake.
At 3.36 AM on Wednesday 24 August, an earthquake measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale hit a mountainous area of central Italy near the borders of the Umbria, Lazio, Abruzzo and Marche regions. The towns of Amatrice, Accumoli, Arquata del Tronto and Pescara del Tronto were badly damaged by the earthquake, with a large proportion of their buildings completely destroyed. So far, 292 people are known to have died as a result of the earthquake, with 238 people pulled alive from the rubble and thousands made homeless by the disaster.
Franceschini said that prior to the disaster Amatrice’s historic centre had been ‘one of the most beautiful in Italy’. The earthquake destroyed the facade and rose window of the Church of Sant’Agostino, which dates from 1428, as well as a museum dedicated to the painter Nicola Filotesio, who was a student of Raphael.
Damage caused by the quake is widespread, with cracks appearing in the Terme di Caracalla, over 100km away in Rome. According to Franceschini, ‘We have so far identified 293 items of cultural or historic interest which have been damaged or destroyed within a 20km radius of the epicentre’. An enormous effort will be required to rebuild and reconstruct the area.
Another effort to raise money, launched by food blogger Paolo Campana on the day of the earthquake, asks Italian restaurants around the world to donate €2 to the relief effort for every dish of Amatriciana pasta that they sell. The popular pasta dish, made with pork cheek and tomato sauce, originates in the town of Amatrice, which was due to hold a festival celebrating the dish the weekend after the earthquake struck.