they need our help!

I just found out late last night that my absolutely most-favorite place in Italy, Vernazza, was devastated by mudslides after 20″ of rain fell in one day on October 25.

I don’t know how I missed this, except it seems to have been completely overlooked by national media.

Vernazza is, well, it was, an absolutely beautiful little town perched at the base of a V of cliffs on the Ligurian Sea. Here are some pictures from our visit, and walk, there last May.

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Here is a link to what has happened to the town as a result of the mudslides.

One of the pictures shows the awning of the Blue Marlin Bar, the establishment owned by our good friend Massimo (from the pictures — he’s a budding pianist — I played Granados for him and he roared around the restaurant “Shussh”ing everyone and then wouldn’t let us pay for our dinner; I coached him on the Mozart D Minor Fantasy and then he mimed hari-kari to my husband; he was one of the sweetest, most genuine, most “people-person” people I’ve ever met), at the level with the mud.

I can’t stop thinking about this. I’ve looked at pictures and video clips all day (in between my seven hours of teaching, anyway). I can’t get the images out of my mind. The streets my husband and I strolled through, the gelato stands and tabbachi we shopped in, the breakwater where we perched and dangled our legs in the salt water to soothe our aching muscles after our 14-kilometer hike (for which we “blame” Massimo), the chair with the bowl of lemons on it (in a crush with a bicycle and a tree trunk and twisted pieces of pipe), the grocery (Salame and something) where we bought salame and olives and sourdough rolls and cherries to take on our hike, and the dinghies parked along the piazza, and the chiming clock. I fell in love with Italy there — well, I fell in love with Italy in Perugia and Florence, too, but this was by far my favorite place — all buried in or surrounded by mud and rocks. Second floor balconies are at street level. The train tunnels were filled with mud.

I’ve also observed something interesting. In my research, I run across pictures of similar devastation in Monterosso, and I say, “Pah,” and look for more information about Vernazza. I feel such a personal connection there. So much for benevolence and a sense of universality.

Meanwhile, they’re trying to dig themselves out; they are not being given any insurance money (“Act of God”), the Italian economy is in a shambles, I can’t imagine how these people are going to dig themselves out economically, even if they manage to extricate themselves from the mud.

I think the most difficult thing is I could completely see myself living there. When we got home I shopped real estate and priced inns and cafes and tried to figure out how many piano students I would have to take to supplement our cafe and croissant sales. I’m. Not. Kidding. I feel, very much, like this could have been me. And the stories of people rushing to stairs or cutting through air conditioning vents to crawl through to second stories to escape the encroaching water and mud make my heart race as if it were me.

Anyway, you can donate money through the link above, or to the Italian Red Cross.

Click here. Donations can be made to help the Ligurian towns and people of Vernazza and Monterosso through the Italian Red Cross. Make sure to list these 2 towns in the ‘notes’ field to guarantee your donation will go directly to these two places, rather than help fund other issues throughout Italy.

We can’t let this town become a ghost town. It’s not only one of the most beautiful places in Italy, it’s home to some of the kindest, friendliest, most open people I’ve ever met. Let’s help keep their town alive.

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