Earthquake in Reggio Calabria

Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities: “Agazio Trombetta” Photographic Archive
Agazio Trombetta (Deputy of State History for Calabria Region) Iconographical Foundation
Texts by Ferruccio Formentini

“It never rains but it pours”. as the ancient saying goes. Maybe somebody among the Strait’s suspicious inhabitants was been saying it, after the seism of November, 16, 1894 caused damage to the provinces of Reggio Calabria, especially in the village of San Procopio, where many people gathered to pray in front of the church were buried under the façade. A disaster that recurred after a few years, on September, 9, 1905, and gave a big bump to the ground from Reggio to Catanzaro, arousing a strong emotion in the whole country because of the huge extent of damage.

There wasn’t event time to estimate the damage and to set up the first works of reconstruction. On October, 23, 1907, the seismic activity came back and made its voice heard on the ionic side of Reggio Calabria, going on for days the earth’s sinister rumble, accompanied by some landslides that caused the death of 175 people in Ferruzzano.

But worse was to follow. The notes of the Aida’s triumphal march that closed in a storm of cheering the gala performance at Vittorio Emanuele Theatre in Messina, also celebrating the installation of the new electric light, were just faded away. Many inhabitants of Messina had just gone to bed after a walk on the sea front under the new lighting. On December, 28, Monday, at 5: 20: 25, a tremendous shock of 30 seconds only destroyed the two cities facing on the Strait: Reggio Calabria and Messina. One of the most terrific earthquakes ended in one breath.

The first assistance arrived by sea, the only practicable way

Digging in the rubble to save the wounded

The survivors re-organized their life

After the first hardship, the survivors came back to a nearly decent life, thanks to the generous contribution of everybody, especially the United States that were present on the spot of the disaster since the very beginning. A significant turning point occurred with the construction of a prefabricated wooden city that, with the creation of temporary schools, hotels, places of amusement and representation offices, enabled the return to a decent life.

Iconographical documents:
The recurring memory: chronicles of seismic events Professor Agazio Trombetta
Edizioni De Franco – Reggio Calabria
One hundred years of oblivionProfessor Agazio Trombetta
Edizioni De Franco – Reggio Calabria

Historical documents:
Italian Navy Historical Archive, Rome
General Staff Historical Archive, Rome
Corps of Carabinieri GHQ Historical Office, Rome
State Central Archives, Rome
Central Assistance Committee, Rome
Reggio Calabria Historical Archive
Reggio Calabria State Archive
Reggio Calabria Public Library
Reggio Calabria Archiepiscopal Library
Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities: Agazio Trombetta Photographic Archive