Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Lacemakers of Aquila

Last year on April 6th, a terrible earthquake devastated the town of Aquila, Italy and the surrounding regions. Many stitching groups rushed to organize aid of a less urgent nature for the lacemakers of the area. There was even a depository set up at the Italia Invita Forum of Lace and Embroidery in Parma in May to take donations of needlework supplies. A fund was set up for monetary donations. Simona Iannini's house crumbled on top of her and she sustained many injuries, not to mention the loss of everything in her house. Everything she had prepared for the Italia Invita Forum (she and another woman, Rita Fattore were to exhibit pieces of Aquila Bobbin Lace) was lost. Rita Fattore was marginally more fortunate, her son insisted she leave the house after the first quake and so she was saved... but after the second quake a couple of hours later, her house and all it's contents were lost.

Over the last year I have thought often of the people of Aquila and have searched for news of their fate. It seems that the Italian government, under the public eye of the world's attention, made many promises to help at the time, but have still not delivered - over a year later. In this month's issue of Ricamo Italiano (an Italian embroidery magazine) there is a letter from Simona Iannini. She has given me permission to translate a portion of it here for you to read:

In L’Aquila

Starting over... a semi-serious article of a school that begins to work again

...we Aquilani, mountain dwellers and determined, never lost hope of meeting once again to work our beloved lace (...and more). Unfortunately, what was previously done in a day, now takes a month and there were more important priorities like putting a roof over my son’s head! Having partially resolved these kinds of problems, it was time to start over.

Fed up with unkept promises, a widespread enough trend, Sunday, March 7th we met at the home of Alessandra Tagliaferri who, by good fortune (and good construction) has her house still intact. In the yard, she and her husband, obviously at their own expense, constructed a delightful wooden cabin. From there we will start over. Via the grapevine of telephone calls we were able to meet again with enthusiasm and emotion. I found it a bit trying, but beautiful and affectionate as always.

What do the Aquilani miss? We miss contact, we are divided, split up, dispersed. We miss a place to get together. One walks in the few streets or in the shopping centres searching for familiar faces. We tell ourselves: “Enough sadness, the aftershocks continue, our houses are gone, so are our jobs, we must find ourselves something to do. Let’s start again”. Our Accademy starts over from here, to teach various courses besides lace, to share our passions, to promote new projects and it is open to all those “of good will” and good character. We want to speak positively. Ideas abound.

For the record, I would like to thank my “ladies” for having listened to me when I had to vent about the situation for those of us who were wounded. By now we are no longer “odiens” [sorry, I don't know what this means] and we are only an uncomfortable expense for society. Does it seem right that there might not be any compensation? “In the end” I was told “it was hardly a workplace accident.” I was forgetting that ending up under the rubble of a house (mine was reinforced with cement), was our fault. Of course, we could have gotten out of the way!

Let’s unite for something which will give us support, even if only moral. But let’s leave the controversies elsewhere, the password is: pragmatism. Our courses will be given with lessons of different [skill] levels, in study groups. I also had two other locations in Montesilvano (Pescara) and Francavilla (Chieti), for giving lessons on Aquila lace, I hope to organize courses on the coast as well, like we have already been able to do in Lanciano. My thanks go to those who are contributing to my moral and occupational reconstruction, more precisely, my pupils and the great help that comes from outside our region.

To Alessandra’s cabin, I will bring the materials that you all have sent me which will be available to everyone, we will work to realize artifacts, in the hope of supporting ourselves.

I would like to say something to my countrymen: it is not living angry that resolves problems, a smile should not be denied to anyone and can help us move forward. At times I fear that we have forgotten the tragedy of those who lost loved ones and one might think only of one’s material possessions, I believe I can say this in hindsight, and I continue to send a thought to the little ones who are no longer here.

I, or rather we, have decided to start over with all our hardships, our long periods of time, our fears. The cabin will be the starting point for creating with our hands, for creating with our hearts, for planning, for growing, for being together. Those who love us, follow us (and help us) otherwise... we are strong enough to get by peacefully all by ourselves.

Thank you everyone. Simona Iannini

You can see some of Simona's incredible work at her website.
Rita Fattore is the co-author of Tombolo Aquilano.

If anyone knows what "odiens" are, please post a comment!


  1. Hi Jeanine, "odiens" is only a misspelling for the english word "audience" :-D
    Ciao, Stefania

  2. Ciao Stefi,
    Thanks! I also received the following privately:
    "Odiens" is how the English word "audience" is pronounced by Italians. "Non facciamo più odiens / audience" = we are no longer interesting for the media because we no longer draw a big audience to the programs that speak about us.

    A bit sad.