2022 is the annus horribilis of Stromboli, the small magical fragile and powerful island lost, and alas abandoned, in the Mediterranean Sea.
The island chose me 25 years ago. Or rather, it was Iddu, the volcano, one of the most active in the world, that kidnapped me.
I disembarked as a young marauder and I could not help but return. Even as an old rogue.
In autumn 2020 I decided to move there, only out of season, to escape the limitations and deprivations imposed by the pandemic.
I found an isolated house perched on the ridge of the mountain.
I learned to do without a lot and almost everyone.
I was adopted by the hungry stray cats who kept me company in the windy and melancholy autumn nights.
I discovered the magic of the paths I walked every day in a kind of amazing meditation.
I even learned to light the wood stove. But I still don’t know how to clean or cook the fresh tuna of the Viking Gaetano, our fisherman who came out of the pages of Homer’s Odyssey.
Devotion to nature should be a dogma for those who choose to visit and experience such a unique, mysterious and fascinating island.
Instead, in these crazy times, the island has become increasingly the victim of exploitation for the use and abuse of hit-and-run tourism, local greed, environmental neglect, institutional abandonment and an overall cultural and human impoverishment.
In one year I have witnessed three different film productions on the island: Paolo Sorrentino, long-time lover of the island, shot some scenes of his movie The Hand of God; a Dutch crew for Netflix shot Stromboli. In both cases there was no problem, indeed the cinema in Stromboli always represents an opportunity for entertainment and excitement, as well as being a source of extra income for the islanders. Many yearn to make extras. I always opt to disappear…
Things went smoothly until a Roman troupe arrived to shoot the “friction” Civil Protection, a mocking title in the light of what happened.On the morning of May 25, 2022, the day of the wild fire, a date carved forever in our hearts and on the walls of the island with moving murals to remember the heroism of the islanders, I was drinking coffee on the terrace when I saw persistent smoke coming from the mountain. I called our local taxi-driver, also known as “Radio Stromboli” because if you want to know something ask Fabry, to understand what was happening.
In desperation, he told me that a reckless flame – lit on the set of the fiction, produced by Matteo Levi’s company 11 Marzo, directed by Marco Pontecorvo, starring Ambra Angiolini, for RAI UNO – in a few seconds had escaped the incompetent hands of men, guilty of challenging nature for their greed, superficiality, stupidity.
All this presented an exorbitant bill and it was the land that paid for it.
Most likely in the rush to finish filming – they had landed in early May to shoot and would have left three days after the fire – the heads of the production did not listen to the locals who had warned them not to light anything on that day of sirocco. The truth is they fucked up, eager to get the job done.
The fire burned almost the entire mountain, razing the Nature Reserve, a fragile and beautiful ecosystem. When at sunset the Canadair unable to put out the fire abandoned us, all hope of putting out the flames also went up in smoke.The night was tragic: waves of fire up to 10 meters high, the island illuminated by day, the constant crackling of the flames, the air made thick and unbreathable by the debris. It felt like being on the set of the Apocalypse Now movie, to stay on the cinematic theme.
When the sirocco wind – and only sciroccati (slang term for fools) could think of lighting a fire on a hot May day near the oriented nature reserve – changed to the west, the frightening flames began to descend towards the village, enveloping us in smoke. We all had to leave our homes to go to the beach in the middle of a crazy night while the whole mountain was burning. Around two in the morning a ship arrived to evacuate the terrified tourists. We have experienced all this without institutional support.Nothing was coordinated that night, if not by the Strombolians and by the valid Command of the Carabinieri.
The Strombolians, notoriously sciarrigni – that is, quarrelsome warriors – united as never before in the face of the emergency and fought in the flames to stem the fury of the fire as much as possible.Heroes… they were heroes that night, fueled by desperation and courage, in defense of their land, loved ones and homes.
In over twenty years on the island, I have witnessed multiple eruptions of our beloved mountain. Some have frightened us, others have excited us, some have created fires, others have produced wonder …
I was present on 3 July 2019 when the volcano made its most powerful paroxysm in over thirty years and I saw with my eyes and senses the thunderous and frightening power of the mountain. However, Iddu with his fiery and crackling presence had never created the hell of fire, flames, ash and death resulting from the guilty superficiality of homo (in)sapiens.
In May, I screamed in words, posts, articles about pain, indignation, anger, dismay at the environmental massacre. As well as the unspoken news with the negligent and shameful complicity of state TV, RAI.
I believe that the population of Stromboli will never pay the RAI fee again in their life …
Unfortunately, the force of nature cannot be controlled.
Unfortunately, foolish and arrogant human beings defy the laws of nature.
Unfortunately, in addition to the damage, the insult.
Because in almost three months since the terrible fire, NOTHING has been done to secure the mountain, which has become a cemetery of plants, shrubs, brambles, animals and so on. There was an inspection a few days after the fire by the authorities and nothing more. The usual ephemeral parade of politicians.
I went on the burnt paths several times after the fire. I also visited the place where the fire spread and I didn’t give a damn that it couldn’t be accessed. Nobody has done anything and therefore I feel free to do what I want.
Without authority there is the risk of anarchy.
But obedience cannot be expected when the only possible way is civil disobedience in the face of such a pathetic demonstration of political ineptitude and institutional laxity.
After the disastrous negligent and non-malicious fire, the Pro Loco of Stromboli on May 31, in the name of its president Rosa Oliva, sent an urgent request for help, support and interventions to the authorities in charge.
I consider it a duty to write the names and surnames of the recipients:
President Dr. NELLO MUSUMECI Sicilian Region
Avv. COSIMA DI STANI Prefect of Messina Civil Protection Emergencies
Dr. SALVATORE CORDARO Department of Heritage and Environment of the Sicilian Region
Dr. SALVATORE COCINA Regional Department of Civil Protection
Ing. ANTONIO CARDIA Civil Protection Department for the Province of Messina
In a social communication, Dr. Cocina told me that he never received the request.
Ditto Dr. Musumeci, as they tell me from Stromboli.
It is very strange because there are PEC certifications of the receipt. The usual Italian mysteries?
To be fair, I specify that the president of the Pro Loco, Rosa Oliva, told me that the only one to have replied, on 2 July, therefore more than a month after the request of 31 May, was the lawyer Cosima di Stani, prefect of Messina Civil protection emergencies. She replied in a generic way stating that she had interested the Ministry of the Environment about the issue.
However, the real question is: why did they need a request for help when it was also obvious to us, people of the people, not “enlightened” like these illustrious authorities, that the disintegration of vegetation, once functional in protecting the village from any landslides and collapses, would have certainly caused a disastrous flood with the first heavy rains?
It should be said that the fury of the mud avalanche was also caused by various abuses created over the years on the island by many locals who have diverted, buried and interrupted the natural channels of water outlet from the mountain. For about twenty years there was even an illegal open-air dump near the beach on the island, which was “closed” only after the death of an islander committed while unloading garbage with his lapa, the Apecar. The storm caused decades of garbage to be spilled on the beach. Cans from the 1980s were found …
In short, many are to blame and certainly not just the RAI production or the lack of intervention by the authorities. However, adding all these negligent actions, the result was the destruction of a large part of the island of Stromboli.
They are, we are, sick of hearing only lies and blameworthy, of witnessing unworthy lack of responsibility from anyone, unfulfilled promises, rebuke of imputability.
This whole theater is indecent and shameful, as well as ignoble in the face of the sufferings and losses of this small island community.
Now we are demanding funds, aids, interventions, money and not just those that some Strombolians are collecting via social media for their ambitious and precious vegetation replanting project.
It is not fair that we pay for the damage done by others.
It is not fair that innocent citizens and victims pay out the money, before the fire disaster and now the water avalanche.
No material aid from the state, specially in lowercase letters, has ever come to this day. Absolute nothing.
We arrive at 12 August when a storm caused the inevitable: that is the spreading downstream on the village of Stromboli of a lot of material burned in the mountains with relative avalanche of debris, stones, shrubs, ash and mud that have invaded and destroyed houses, roads, shops, activities, trails…
OBVIOUSLY, none took responsibility for the absolute lack of interventions by the Sicily region, civil protection (yes, in lower case) and all those entities that were consulted.In over two months, almost three, since the terrible fire.
The reality is bitter and disturbing: the next rain will repeat the disaster because the ground is still unstable and crumbly and invaded by the plant and animal carcasses of the stake.
Personally, I am utterly pissed off to think that we citizens, harassed by taxes and in the hands of a gang of inept people, must shell out money when there is a STATE – does it exist ??? – that should take care of this. However, in this dramatic moment, Stromboli is exhausted, as are its inhabitants, despite the heroic resilience, overwhelmed by these atrocious months. And who knows what awaits us in autumn and winter.
Yesterday, the politicians arrived in Stromboli by helicopter, ça va sans dire, and did what works best for them: THE PARADE …
When an islander asked the outgoing and torpedoed president of the Sicily Region Nello Musumeci what were the initiatives to be implemented to prevent a further, and certain, disaster in the coming rains, the answer was: “There are no interventions to be done in the immediate. It will take at least 4 years to be able to secure and fix the island.”
No comment because there are no words … Only bad words.
I no longer want to write articles of denunciation and indignation.
I no longer want to associate the name of Stromboli with words such as tragedy, disaster, havoc.
I no longer want our earthly paradise to be abandoned, plundered, humiliated, sold out.
The only firey nights we want to experience in Stromboli are those of the sacred fire of the volcano and the flame of passion, love, Eros. Because this island was created by the Gods to love each other.
For anyone who has visited the island even once, for all the love, passion, wonder, amazement that this magical place has transmitted to us, it is imperative to support and help it.But the aid, the substantial one, the necessary one, must come from the authorities, from the state.
The Strombolians must be compensated for the devastating losses suffered.
The island of Stromboli must never again be the scene of these unworthy and culpable demonstrations. And may Iddu save us from a strong eruption …
Because on such a fragile island only damned fools can think they can play with fire. Meanwhile, it is certain that many of the production have burned their reputations.
In addition to the fire, culpable is the shameful silence on the part of the production managers – the producer Matteo Levi and the director Marco Pontecorvo – who NEVER in almost three months after the disaster have issued a press release of EXCUSES for the involuntary damage they caused.
They didn’t put their face or their wallet in there … A beau geste would be to declare that part of the proceeds of such a “cinematographic masterpiece” will be destined for a fund for the reconstruction of the island. While we await the biblical times of Italian justice for the investigation underway at the Barcelona Pozzo di Gotto Court coordinated by the prosecutor Giuseppe Adornato.
I know, I am a dreamer … but (hopefully) I am not the only one IMAGINE (cit. John Lennon)
Because reality is so aberrant that we just have to dream, without NEVER letting our guard down and NEVER abandoning the “armed struggle”. Armed with indignation, anger, pain, strength, words, actions, interpellations.
My sensitivity, and my cynicism, lead me to believe that the production held the hidden hope that the responsibility for the fire, not properly disclosed in the national media, would pass on the sly, washing their hands and consciences. This was not the case and it will never be because I deeply fear that I will still have to associate the word Stromboli with disaster, havoc, tragedy …
The shame for what has happened continues despite the enormous efforts made by the population of the island and by the many tourists and volunteers who in these days of festivities are tarnishing their souls to shovel, clean, restore beauty.
A special mention for the command of the Carabinieri of Stromboli which since the fire has shown great professionalism and a deep heart, assisting and protecting the islanders.
A final warning: the time of sale and violence against the island is over.
For those wishing to contribute, I am attaching the site on which to make donations, where you will find all the information on the Coltiviamo Un’Idea project.
I guarantee that the people involved in the crowdfunding are trustworthy and honest.
Or: Attiva Stromboli – BancoPosta
Scuola in mezzo al mare – UniCredit
Causale: Coltiviamo Stromboli
Sebastiano Cannavò https://www.instagram.com/stromboli.stati.danimo/
Leonardo Nardi Utano https://www.instagram.com/viraccontodistromboli/
Andrea Dojmi https://www.instagram.com/andreadojmi/
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