Well, that was interesting. We woke up just past 3:30 AM. “Is that you shaking the bed?” I said. “It is absolutely not me,” said Teresa. Then all the car alarms in our Rome neighborhood went off.
We knew pretty immediately that it had been an earthquake, which is kind of an alarming thing when you’re in a city built entirely out of bricks, stone, and concrete. We managed to get back to sleep, but now it’s two hours later, I’m awake at half past five, and according to reports now coming in it was a 6.3, centered about 50 miles to the east-northeast. Initial reports are focusing on the town of l’Aquila, where there are evidently collapsed buildings and reports of fatalities. Holy cats.
We were just in the countryside of central Italy the day before yesterday—not near l’Aquila, but more to the north-northeast, in the Sabine Hills—and while it’s easy to say that all of those ancient stone buildings have survived a lot of shaking, not every structure is ancient or, for that matter, well-built. It’s easy to imagine a California-level temblor causing non-trivial damage—as, indeed, some have done in living memory.