But then, just two days later, Italy was flung into deep mourning after the devastation of L’Aquila by a powerful earthquake. One Italian journalist described this experience as a ‘bitter ritual’ and there was indeed a sense of dreary familiarity and inevitability about what had occurred: October 2002, San Giuliano di Puglia; September 1997, Assisi and Umbria; December 1990, Sicily; November 1980, Campania and Basilicata. I remember visiting the Basilicata region in the summer of 1981. The old villages and towns had been abandoned. Tent towns and shanty towns had sprung up and seemed to have taken on permanent status. The same, inevitably, is already happening in L’Aquilla. Long after the immediate pain of loss and grief has dulled, the people of L’Aquilla will still be suffering from this particular bitter ritual.