I have a clear memory of that phone call. Luca Tombesi (a true food blogger, one who understands the connection between food and territory) had his voice trembling with fear and excitement. It was early October and within a few days something unique was born, a project that week after week became a reality.
#RIPARTIDAISIBILLINI wasn’t just a cry for help from friends working in the food service industry, in the hospitality sector and in the production of premium food and wine in the areas that were worst affected by the earthquake on August 24. It was a desire to huddle together, to help each other while trying to break a cruel wave. To become a group, all we had to do was ask. On the one hand, there was the Instagramers Marche community, that had been developing tourism promotion initiatives and implementing new communication tools in those areas over the previous three years. On the other hand, there was the Italian Association of Travel Blogger (known by the acronym AITB), whose partners took immediate action to see who could take part in a media tour from October 12 to 16 that in our minds was supposed to have a beginning and an end.
The beginning. Amandola, Osteria del Lago in San Ruffino, truffle hunting, the country house La Querceta di Marnacchia, Smerillo, the organic farm La Conca, the essential oils from Agriturismo Amargi, the Abbey of San Ruffino, Monte San Martino, Crivelli’s altarpiece, Rifugio Città di Amandola, Montefortino, Agriturismo Santa Lucia dei Sibillini, Montemonaco, chestnut picking, Bar Zocchi, Museo della Sibilla, Il Tiglio and Le Castellare in Isola San Biagio, mountain biking, Infernaccio seen from a distance, the Plains of Castelluccio, Agriturismo Il Guerrin Meschino, Visso, Macelleria Calabrò, B&B Il Borgo, Ussita, Ristorante Montebove, B&B La Casa dell’Ortigiana. Then on Sunday, a visit to the Sanctuary of Macereto, the cheese from Azienda Scolastici and the hike up to Rifugio del Fargno for a pasta alla Pilato lunch. Many, many voices I was – indeed, we were – ready to unveil through hundreds of pictures and audio recordings.
The end. October 26 and 30, new terrible quakes shattered our plans and, above all, the lives of those we had met. We felt dismay and a creeping sense of fear we couldn’t just keep locked away in a drawer. Those days, wandering around and listening, and the desire to truly lend a hand stayed with us. That’s why this story has no end. That’s why we came back every week to listen to those voices that had something different to tell, but nevertheless continued to exude the essence of this part of the Marche region. We’re coming back to keep alive a memory that is likely to be dragged away in the face of such devastation. We’re coming back and documenting. We’re coming back and hugging each other. And these actions are being repeated in many different places. In early February we met again in Fermo for the inauguration of the exhibition #RIPARTIDAISIBILLINI and the sale of those photos. The mayor and the deputy mayor of the city were there. An important part of the city was there, silently looking at the details and chosing what to buy. Those who had welcomed us were there too, their eyes full of tears. So far we have raised €700 that will go towards funding a restoration project which has already been identified in the Sibillini area. We will be at Tipicità from March 4 to 6 to further expand the list of places mentioned above. We’ll be repeating part of the tour on Sunday, March 26 in connection with the annual Instagram event Worldwide Instameet (# WWIM15), with stops planned in the surroundings of Ascoli Piceno, Fermo and Macerata. We will also be exhibiting these photographs outside the Marche region, prompting a further exchange of views. And we will try – indeed, we are already doing that – to plan a big event in June in the same place where we took our first steps together. We’ll be there no matter what. Because we never stopped doing that. It just takes one phone call, one single phone call, to take us back to the road towards our mountains.