Thursday morning: L’Aquila July 9, 2009 Gordon is off for his first breakfast meeting early, but I get an extra hour as we wait for the other spouses to arrive at the earthquake-hit town of L’Aquila. I did not know what to expect from the police barracks allocated for our accommodation but actually it is all very comfortable and all mod cons in full working order. All apart from one incident with a stuck lift for the events team (and a rapid response from the super efficient Italian staff), which has motivated us to be super-healthy and use the stairs. Once the rest of the spouses have arrived we are treated to coffee and pastries.
Everyone looks well-rested after a good night’s sleep. We are all assigned to buses for our journey to the area worst hit by the earthquake in April – I’m with my good friend Margarita Zavala from Mexico who remembers her country’s own devastating earthquake of 1985 We travel to the Piazza Duomo in the old town of L’Aquila. The full scale of the devastation really hits you when you see such beautiful buildings full of cracks and surrounded by crumbling stones. A glimpse inside a church revealed nothing but piles of rubble waiting to be sifted through during the coming months, to enable the restoration. We are then taken to the centre of the devastation where so many lost their lives and everybody lost their homes.
The emptiness of all the buildings was striking and you wonder how everyone is coping now with their displaced lives. The Director in charge of L’Aquila’s restoration explained that rebuilding the town will take many years. Michelle Obama and I are taken across to meet the emergency service team who have all been working so hard on the restoration. I know this is true of emergency services everywhere, especially in Britain
We are taken back to the G8 compound and run into Gordon and his team walking between meetings. We take the chance to make a call home and speak to our youngest son. Gordon goes off to his next session and now I head off to rejoin the spouses for a nice Italian lunch.