Italy sits on a fault between techtonic plates, and they are still moving. In 1968, thousands fled their homes in western Sicily as the area shook.
The southern half of the country is particularly prone. In 1905, a major tremor killed 5,000 in Calabria. Just three years later 95,000 people perished in the towns of Messina and Reggio Calabria in a quake measuring 7.2 and a devastating tidal wave that followed. In 1915, at Avezzano in the Abruzzo region, a quake measuring magnitude 7 claimed more than 32,500 lives. In 1930 it was Irpinia that shook. Magnitude 6.5. 1,400 dead. But the north of Italy has not escaped either. The Alps and the Balkans are all part of the same Mediterranean geological system. On the 6th of May, 1976 Friuli in the north-east was struck by an earthquake, killing nearly 1,000 and leaving 70,000 people without homes. And in Campania around Naples, nearly 3,000 more died in a major tremor in 1980. 17 years laters in a region which bridges the areas of Umbria and Le Marche, the ground shook again, twice in the space of a week. 38,000 were made homeless. 12 people died, four of them at the St Francis of Assissi basilica, which collapsed. And in 2002, in a medieval village in the heart of Italy, a party at a primary school turned to tragedy. 27 children and their teacher were found dead in the rubble of San Giuliano di Puglia, a village that had not been considered under threat.