This is Holy Week – the most sacred period in the Roman Catholic calendar.
But in L’Aquila, the streets are deserted, testament to the devastation caused by Monday’s earthquake. Normally busy at this time of year, the ancient church of Santa Anime stands broken without its dome in the centre of the quake stricken town. On his third visit to the region, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi reiterated his invitation to families to accept state funded accommodation in hotels on the Adriatic coast: “30 percent of people have found accommodation with friends or relatives, 17 thousand hotel rooms were made available and ten thousand have been taken up so far so we can still house another seven thousand.” Tent camps have appeared across the towns and cities of Abruzzo, given the alternative, many are glad to have even this: “We spent three nights in the car but now we have got the tent…its the children that worry me the most…” said one woman, close to tears. No one knows how long this will be home: “Many of us are not so young..we are scared about what the future holds…” said another. Italy’s worst earthquake for three decades may have reduced much of Abruzzo to rubble. But in the run-up to Easter, it hasn’t crushed believers’ faith or their determination to celebrate Holy Week.