In March, the residents of L’Aquila grew tired of waiting for action. They pushed aside the barriers and forced their own way into the historic heart of the town.
Accusing the authorities of inaction, they decided themselves to clear some of the rubble that has covered the town since the earthquake on April 6, 2009.
Work has sped up since then – but there is still up to three billion cubic metres to be cleared, and done so carefully so that precious artefacts, like mosaics, can be preserved.
For some, their homes seem in a worse state.
“It’s worse than a year ago, because that house there collapsed on the night of the quake,” said one resident. “All this other stuff wasn’t there. If you ask me, this is rubbish from houses that have been fixed, its just been dumped here.”
70 thousand people lost the roof over their heads on the night of the tremor. Today, a father and son are visiting their former home.
“In terms of the reconstruction, nothing has advanced at all. The house is just the same as it was a year ago,” said Enzo Tettamani.
New housing – dubbed the Berlusconi buildings – has been built for around 14,000 people, but these are in the middle of nowhere, far from public transport and local services.
Back in the only part of L’Aquila that is still accessible is the only cafe that has re-opened its doors.
Here, the pre-quake ambiance can still be found.
“Here we never talk about the earthquake, never. We talk about coffee and hot chocolate .. then when you leave by this door, you are once again confronted by the sadness in the city,” says the barmaid.