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A couple of days ago I wouldn’t have imagined that I’d be able to publish this blog today. On Tuesday we were hit by monsoon like rains which caused horrendous flash flooding and widespread damage. Up in our little village in Lunigiana things seemed pretty bad as walls started collapsing, the telephone and internet stopped working, water started to seep into the house, and for a while we were without electricity. But it was only the following day, when we cautiously made our way past the piles of mud, rock and trees littering the mountain road down to Pontremoli that the full scale of the disaster became apparent.
We live close to the source of the river Magra, which tumbles through the valley just 150m below our house. Here, the Magra is still un torrente (a torrent, or mountain stream), but as it travels down towards the coast near La Spezia it is joined by many other rivers and torrents, growing to become what under normal conditions is a deep, wide, but fairly lazy and sluggish river. When suddenly filled with thousands of litres of rain water, as happened on Tuesday, it becomes a terrifying raging monster, sparing nothing in its path.
Unfortunately, the town of Aulla, further down the Val di Magra (Magra Valley) in Lunigiana, is situated directly in the path of the river, and consequently fared particularly badly. The devastation has also been very bad in Liguria, especially in the area of the famous picturesque Cinque Terre which some of you have probably visited.
The following e-mail, which I sent to my brother Francesco who lives near Lucca, sums up the situation where we live:
la mamma mi ha detto che hai telefonato per sapere come stavamo. Qui da noi è andata abbastanza bene, niente in confronto ad Aulla. Abbiamo avuto qualche frana, ma la strada è più o meno agibile, qualche muro crollato sull’orto, la strada dentro al paese è bloccata subito dopo casa nostra, e martedì sera c’era talmente tanta acqua dappertutto che ha cominciato a piovere dentro al bagno dal soffitto a volta, ma nell’insieme siamo stati fortunati. A Pontremoli ci sono un paio di ponti fuori uso e varie frane. Più che altro siamo isolati perché l’autostrada è bloccata da La Spezia a Pontremoli venendo in su, e da Borgo Taro a La Spezia venendo da Parma. I rifornimenti possono viaggiare solo sulla vecchia strada della Cisa in numero limitato. I telefoni qui da noi ancora non funzionano, mentre l’internet è stata ripristanata ieri pomeriggio. Non so se riusciremo a venire a Lucca per il Comix. Se sarà, sarà lunedì o martedì, vedremo.
Mum told me that you’d phoned to find out how we were. Where we are things aren’t too bad, nothing compared to Aulla. We’ve had some landslides, but the road is more or less manageable, some walls fallen in the garden, the road that runs through the village is blocked beyond our house, and Tuesday evening there was so much water everywhere that it started raining in the bathroom through the vaulted ceiling, but all in all we’ve been lucky. In Pontremoli there are a couple of bridges out of action and various landslides. More than anything else we are isolated because the motorway is blocked coming up from La Spezia to Pontremoli, and from Borgo Taro to La Spezia coming from Parma. Supplies can only travel on the old Cisa road in limited quantities. The telephones here still don’t work, but the internet was sorted out yesterday afternoon. I don’t know if we’ll manage to come to Lucca for the Comix (an annual event taking place in Lucca this weekend). If we do, it will be Monday or Tuesday, we’ll see.