Survived, yes? – And now?

Facing a disaster – what can you do?

What can you do when your house has crumbled down and your work and income were bound to the place where you live? I guess it hasn’t happened to you, but there are folks which are truly left alone with that problem.


Today we decided to drive into the area where many villages and towns were heavily compromised by strong earthquakes from August 2016 on. We live about 50km as the crow flies from the epicenters of these earthquakes. I felt them strongly, nothing happened here to my house, but o boy, it did destroy more than I had feared.

Driving to the earthquake area – a real shock!

It is only for 2 weeks (after 10 months of inaccessibility), that one road has been opened into the area, from Norcia to Castelluccio on the high plateau of the Sibillini mountains. Some parts of the road were completely renewed, others limited to one track and you see the outer part of the road hanging down, and heaps of rocks, as you would expect. Then the view opened up to the plateau – and WOW. A huge crack runs over the mountain chain now, the rock has broken open over many kilometers. I remained in awe considering how much power had been released to split the mountain.

The high plateau of Castelluccio with the huge crack in the mountain chain
The high plateau of Castelluccio with the huge crack in the mountain chain


Finally in Castelluccio, the village of the famous lentils: I had been there many, many times. Only a few years ago the last of the previously abandoned houses had been rebuilt and tourists came to visit the village or even buy a tiny house, especially people passionate about Hang Gliding, as a school had been founded in this place.  

Castelluccio destroyed by the earthquake
Castelluccio destroyed by the earthquake

See here what is left of the village. I took this photo from the spot where during my last visit two years ago I had sat on the porch of a bar and specialty shop, enjoying the delicious local food.

Ex-bar in Castelluccio
Ex-bar in Castelluccio
Bar and shop in the trailer in Castelluccio
Bar and shop in the trailer in Castelluccio

The building of the bar has collapsed, the shop and bar-service are now offered from a trailer – and it is only for these last few weeks that a handful of people show up again and buy their stuff. And the 10 months in between?


What the people tell us

Talking with the owner I mentioned that they are very unfortunate because they are left alone in their misfortune. WE ARE LUCKY BECAUSE WE ARE STILL ALIVE – was his answer. Wow again!

He told me a little about the event and what happened later. From last August on, when the first earthquake hit about 25km to the south – when 300 people were killed – everybody living in that area was on high alert. And when 2 strong earthquakes hit 4 days before the big one, everybody went to sleep in campers or tents – and that’s why they survived. A witness reported that during the strokes he wanted to leave his camper but the surface of the street came up, right into his face, the waves were incredibly high. He still lives – or lives again – in his camper near the mobile bar and right next to the container-station of the military – who don’t seem to be active or even interested in fixing anything, just wandering around, in 5 or 6, while the village is doomed in its state of total destruction.


People who once lived there are not allowed to enter their houses, and the bar keeper himself had to fight to be allowed to come back and open his little activity in front of his destroyed property. “Maybe in 30 years”, he said, “our shop will be in our house again”, With that, he expressed clearly the little hope for help which the people have in Italy to come back into a normal life. This is the common experience here. The historic city Nocera Umbra to the north of Assisi was totally destroyed in 1997. Now, in 2017, it is finally rebuilt, but with almost nobody living in the historic center anymore. After 20 years everybody has found some other place to live and to earn their money, not by choice, but by necessity.

How long would you wait to come back home?

How long would you be able to wait for coming back into your property? Two years? Three, maybe five? But 20 years is a long time.

Our bar keeper is “fortunate” compared to those people from Nocera Umbra because he will be able to make a living, sooner or later, again, from a camper, a tent or a house, as he can offer what people need who come and visit this place: drinks and food. And we started to help him by buying some of his marvelous salami and by having a morning snack

The 2nd "shop" in Castelluccio
The 2nd “shop” in Castelluccio

in his place. We also bought salami and cheese from his competitor on the other side of the Piazza who has opened a tent-shop in front of the open space which once was his house and shop…


The official lies about reality

You cannot imagine what an earthquake of this magnitude can do. Officially – for many unscientific reasons (see my previous blog posts here and here)-  it ended up with a magnitude of 6.6 in the records. Cutting a mountain in half needs a little more. The bar keeper said it was 8.0 and this comes nearer to the truth. It could have been 7.6 to 7.9, but certainly not only 6.6. The quake has moved the whole mountain. A hang glider told me that he could see from above that, in addition to the crack we can see from the plateau, there is another one right behind the mountain top which literally has cut it into two parts.

Another unpredictable result of the event: the fountains in the whole area have dried out, the water veins have been blocked and the water has found a different way. It is now pouring out of the mountain near Norcia, in thousands of liters per second. This will change everything and, hopefully, the farmers find a way to continue to plant their famous lentils despite the lack of water.

“I Love  Italy” – and how it is abandoned

Hold on, I still need to tell you about Norcia, the city which was so proud to have resisted the first earthquake in August last year. Norcia is now an incredible mix of “life as usual” and huge amounts of debris.

Piazza Vittorio Veneto, Norcia
Piazza Vittorio Veneto, Norcia

The inviting restaurant on the square in front of the theatre – the colorful life as usual.

"Our" Bar with view on scrambled church
“Our” Bar with view on scrambled church

And 50 m from there in a side street: we have an ice cream in a bar – and a clear view on one of the two crumbled churches in the small Piazza

Crumbled church and some lonely workers far back, the only ones we saw in the city
Immediate reconstruction à la Italiana – some lonely workers far back, the only ones we saw in the city

and two or three workers slowly beginning to erect some scaffolding: not to fix anything, no, but to just keep in place what has not yet fallen down.

The bank-building in perfect shape
The bank-building in perfect shape

A bank in the main street neatly restored and the shop in the same building open, while right next to it abandoned shops and small announcements that they are still working, somewhere, outside the city.

Photos of the destroyed shop behind the "curtain" and indication of where to contact the owner
Photos of the destroyed shop behind the “curtain” and indication of where to contact the owner
Where you can find the coffee shop...
Where you can find the coffee shop…

Whoever goes there and buys their goods? The tourists come and see the historic center and buy something there; they don’t drive to the industrial area to buy something which they couldn’t even desire without seeing it exposed while strolling by.

So how do they make their living if they are not among the fortunate ones who are allowed to open their shops again in the center?

A working shop in Norcia
A working shop in Norcia

( I guess about 80% of the commercial activities are closed).

Commercial activities in Norcia - closed
Commercial activities in Norcia – closed

And even those who are open again do not really have many clients. I have never seen so few people in Norcia in the past 30 years and my 20+ visits there. 

The empty streets of Norcia
The empty streets of Norcia

The main attractions are either completely destroyed, like the 4 main churches,

Santa Maria Argentea in Norcia - what is left...
Santa Maria Argentea in Norcia – what is left…

or are inaccessible like the town hall which seems as if still contemplating if it is better to tumble down, too, for giving a consistent appearance to the main piazza, where only the medieval castle sits perfectly in place like a flat rock.

The town hall and the front facade of the Basilica di San Benedetto - the rest of it ist crumbled down.
The town hall and the front facade of the Basilica di San Benedetto – the rest of it has crumbled down.

How interesting is a disaster in the long run?

Yes, some people are interested to come and visit these places, the “earthquake tourists”. But most people come to visit Italy and the Italian cities for admiring something beautiful and not for getting sad and thoughtful about the uncertainty of life which is expressed so clearly in the natural destruction of what has been created with so much effort.

The following thought is almost unavoidable: Imagine how places look like after a war, after intentional destruction. That’s where we don’t really like to go, and alas, who knows how many steps we are away from such a scenario?

As if a bomb has hit... A scene in Norcia
As if a bomb has hit… A scene in Norcia


What can WE do? – What can I do in the face of disaster?

I am an optimist and I believe that we are all called to engage in activities and with people who passionately work for a better world. I am speaking of people like Jordan Peterson who has opened my eyes and helped me to recognize my “new-age” illusions about the “goodness of everything”, to see my naïveté regarding my irrational hopes and folly acts of trust in people who don’t merit it. I came to understand that there is true malevolence in this world and that we need to learn to recognize it and to stand up against it – as does Steven Greer by disclosing the secrecy with which we mercilessly are misguided.  View previous posts on this blog here and here and here)


And here is a big “Thank You” to Ken Wilber who taught me to see the bigger picture and to appreciate the efforts which people do in one or more quadrants of reality. My attempt is now to bring together all these seemingly disconnected aspects and to realize their value and transmit what they bring to the table in service of a truly better world – and to help to diminish, or even end, the influence of the malevolent forces in power.


Will you join me? And in case your house crumbles with the next earthquake, be sure to knock on my door!


How we are shaped by our environment!

How we are shaped by our environment!

Have you ever given a thought to how we are shaped by our environment? So where you live is shaping you, your habits, your desires, your idea of leisure time and the way you think and feel.

Living in a city versus living in the countryside

If you always have lived in a big city you became almost insensitive to noise and dirt – and you will feel insecure in a tranquil country place which seems boring to you with all the nature around and no usual entertainment and excitement.

River Tiber
Enjoying the river Tiber, the plants and animals, the clouds and mirrored pictures in the water

If you have lived always in the countryside you hardly can perceive its beauty and you probably are thirsty of the excitements available in a city. Being far from the places where you think “real life” happens, keeps you in a belief of lack.

Today we went on a bike ride through South Umbria. I noticed places where I was used to seeing sheep and cows – no sign of animals anymore. The young generation doesn’t want to continue the country life of their parents and grandparents. What are they doing instead? Increase the amount of people without stable jobs – but living in more fancy places than the old farm. – Is this REALLY BETTER?

Life in the ancient villages in Italy –  like it was time ago, but how long?

Then there are the little villages and towns, also threatened of being left for the big city, but still maintaining a good number of inhabitants – and others come to join them, especially from other countries, because they love ITALY.

Men chatting on the stair to a church in Calvi dell'Umbria, Italy
Men chatting on the stairs to a church in Calvi dell’Umbria, Italy

In places like Calvi dell’Umbria life is still quiet, especially on Sundays. People go to church, sit in Piazza and have a cappuccino or just hang around and chat. Especially men gather and just chat, even sitting on the church steps. Imagine this: no internet chat, but REAL LIFE CHAT. Can you feel the difference? And can you imagine how YOU would feel if you lived in such a place where the clock is still going slower than in the outside (success driven) world?

This article was first published on August 14th 2016 on
My addition in January 2017
There have been many earthquakes during the last few months here in Italy. Some villages in the mountain range of the Appeninnico were completely destroyed, others severely damaged. A ski resort was buried by an avalanche after the last earthquake and about 30 people couldn’t be rescued alive. People are deeply shocked and in fear, and there is a reason for it. This will increase the desire to leave these old places of beauty and different lifestyle. Who wants to live with the continuous fear of the “next big one”?
destroyed city
Destroyed city

Earthquakes in Italy is not a new thing. The plate boundary between the African and the European plate goes right through Italy and many villages and towns have been destroyed in the past centuries. Every 10 or 15 years another town collapsed, business as usual: the big outcry, the promises to rebuild the towns, the collected money, given by compassionate souls, disappeared in someone’s pockets. After 20 years or so coming back to the previous home town often is not a choice anymore.

So you might ask: If they know about the danger of earthquakes, why don’t they prepare? Why don’t they build their houses in ways that they don’t collapse with the first shock? In Italy magnitude 5.5 is enough to collapse the houses, while in New Zealand even with magnitude 7.5 the houses keep upright, with only a few exceptions. 


Dolce vita in Italia
People have a short memory. It is like the pain in childbirth: as soon as the child is born the mother forgets about the pain – how else could she think about having another baby? Well, Italian mentality is a little like this: “speriamo bene”, let’s hope that it won’t happen to me!
And even if somebody is conscious enough about the danger: what can they do? Living in those places traditionally means to be poor. That’s why so many people go away and try to make a living in the bigger cities, in the first place. So how could anyone afford to adjust their old house in ways to make it more resistant to the trembling of the earth?
Bureaucracy - the heap of files is huge
Bureaucracy – the heap of files is huge

The government announces subsidies for these measurements. Yes, you might get some money, but first YOU have to pay (for the administration practices etc.) – and you need to be VERY patient until they finally decide if you are chosen for the subsidies or not. After the big earthquake near Assisi in 1997 people couldn’t begin to reconstruct their houses right away if they wanted to ask for subsidies. And so they had to wait for YEARS until they could begin with the reconstruction. That’s why it took 20 years, altogether. But Assisi itself was reconstructed in 2 years or so. Why? It was the church paying and the many catholic people in the world who feel connected with the city of Saint Francis. They didn’t wait for the government to move.

Now we are in the awkward situation in this country: numbers get manipulated to avoid responsibilities. earthquake forecasting is denied and therefore ignored. Money disappears. Many people have a tender heart and are willing to help – and they don’t get a thank you and are even shut down. The egocentric culture of the leading class seems to reflect a huge part of the population and the more evolved people in this country have a really hard time to be heard, let alone included in decision processes. 
The well known integralist Jeff Salzman often says: “Evolution is beautiful but it’s messy.” In Italy,  you can see the messiness when you are here a little longer than a typical tourists stay.


Watch this explanation of the present risk of earthquakes in Italy as a consequence of what is happening all over the globe – earthquake-wise

Summer, Autumn, Olive Harvest and earthquakes in Italy

Summer is over – what next?

This article was published on in October 2016 You see it here in its original version as a consideration after the summer – but before the huge new earthquake on Oct. 30th in Italy which we could perceive very strongly, but we had the warning and we knew it would come. This changed everything because being prepared takes the fear out of the equation.

As long as I remember I was always looking forward to summer – and then it was over too quickly. Do you know that feeling of needing to dress warm again, no summer nights on the terrace watching the stars, but…..

For many years in my life, there was the new beginning of the season, the school year, courses of all kinds. And the preoccupation: will I have enough students to get on until next summer, the longed for a time in a far distance?

Times have changed, outside in the world, inside in my home and inside myself.

Yes, there will be another winter – hopefully for me, too. No reason why it shouldn’t be, but only a few weeks ago, nearby, 300 people died in their beds, at night, during a 6.2 earthquake. It can always happen, to everybody of us. An earthquake of the one sort or the other.

house fallen down into pieces after the earthquake
After the earthquake
You wouldn’t want to have been in that house!

Spring will come again!

Then in spring, the beauty of the flowers, the warmth of the sun, deeply appreciated. Oh, could it never end!

The first sunflower

Summer Heat

Summer is great, but soon too hot and we wait for some cooler days, not too much over 30°, please. We drag along during the hot days, enjoy the cooler, but beautiful warm nights, one day resembles the other. too hot to do something important – and even the computers go into strike without ventilation.

Looking over the Tiber valley in Otricoli
Looking over the Tiber valley in Otricoli in summer

Autumn: the Olive Harvest is the most important thing

And now, again, almost autumn, the grapes mature, then the olives need to be picked, the year goes on, as always….

The fresh olive oil comes out of the centrifuge
The fresh olive oil comes out of the centrifuge

Life is so precious in its ongoing sameness and evolving differences, Taste it well before the earthquake surprises you.


Picking Olives
Picking Olives

PS: (January 2017)We have picked the olives, a German couple came to help us who, previously, had watched the TV program which had been shot some years ago here in my place. We pick them by hand – a wonderful work. I cannot imagine to use vibrating machines to do it instead. The noise and the holding up of the picking stick would destroy the meditative setting in the connection with NATURE.

Watch the video below. It might not be visible in some countries due to YouTube restrictions. Sorry if that should be true for you!

It was a nice time, warm weather and a good amount of olives. We had about 60l of oil, enough for the year and for give it away to family and friends.

If you are interested in helping us pick the olives one year (mid-end of September), please let us know)