Helping L’Aquila Soar Again

To everyone who loves Italy,

I grew up in Wisconsin but have been lucky enough to call L’Aquila my home since 2001. My wife, Silvia, teaches Renaissance history at the university here and my daughters, Sofia and Emily are in school. Fortunately all safe after the Earthquake less than two weeks ago although, like thousands of others, we don’t know when, or if, they’ll be able to live again in our apartment. This message isn’t about us – our car wasn’t destroyed and thanks to the hotels on the coast we have shelter and most things we need for the immediate future. I have work to get back to in Rome.

Reconstruction in the long-run and getting people into stable shelter and some normalcy will take time. To date a third of the buildings surveyed are unsafe to live in, and the historical center has not been included in that survey yet. Tens of thousands of people are in the tent communities in and around L’Aquila and many more are guests in hotels like me, or with relatives in Rome and elsewhere.

I have been told that the media in the US and UK have already moved on to other subjects (no Americans like me died or were seriously injured), although many grass roots groups – mostly connected to academia or the Italian-American communities are still very active.

With a few friends, both in the US and England, we noticed that we could help both the people of l’Aquila and the city and region that we love. We started with the first English-language group on the subject on Facebook ( L’Aquila Renaissance – Helping L’Aquila and Abruzzo ,

We have also set up this petition in favour of L’Aquila and the villages and towns around it:

For now the group tries to give information on how to donate form the USA (often tax deductible). The list is incomplete.

– NIAF – The National Italian American Foundation have created a Abruzzo Relief Fund & their online donation form is in English. Again here you can make a fast & easy online donation to assist in helping L’Aquila now and rebuild their lives, it’s tax free for those in the US.
Italian Academy Foundation (IAF) has established a L’Aquila relief fund. Additionally, the IAF headquarters in L’Aquila (Bisegna) is open to the victims of the April 6, 2009, earthquake who are seeking shelter. View the IAF website at
Catholic Relief Services
– The Sons of Italy Foundation (SIF) has created an Emergency Relief Fund. View the Order Sons of Italy in America website at
UNICO Announces Initiation of Fund to Aid Abruzzo Italy Earthquake Relief. website at
The American Red Cross

– Global Giving for Abruzzo –
– Red Cross UK –

While no one can argue that the human loss is greater than the cultural loss, I am also worried that during the reconstruction, the beautiful old city will be neglected.  If I had talked to be before the quake, I would have spent half the conversation trying to convince you, especially those living in or visiting Rome, to come look at this jewel that so few Americans see but is an hour and a half drive from the Eternal City. I hope to be able to push the city like that again soon.

As always, to make sure things work in the long term it will be helpful that people keep on experessing, through letters and email, to officials in L’Aquila, in the Italian government, and in the U.S. government, the Press and other “piazze” in favor of rebuilding the city and not expanding it. Many of us have seen the result of the “modern urban suburbs” created, some never finished, after similar events,  In the long term we hope that this group – and what may grow out of it, can contribute to the future of this city just as the world’s love for Assisi and Florence help their rebirth after natural disasters.

Thank you.

L’Aquila, April 16th

Joshua  Lawrence
L’Aquila, Italy / Madison, Wisconsin.

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