In 2006, I went with my son to Naples.
He was finishing his degree in English and Italian. I had finished my twilight Italian GCSE. We flew into Naples on a clear evening with the heady feeling that we were ready to go.
We spent a week in that most beautiful of locations. We even ventured on to the Isle of Ischia – a glorious place where you can still see Roman mosaics more than two thousand years old. It’s a seismically-active area with a volcano – Mount Epomeo, natural rich thermal waters and hot springs.
But Ischia has always been susceptible to landslides and flash floods. At dawn on Saturday 26 November 2022, six inches of torrential rain in the previous six hours triggered a huge landslide of mud and debris from the slopes of the volcano.
Dozens of vehicles were swept into the sea, hundreds of families lost their homes. People were trapped in the mud and at least ten people were killed, one of them a three-week-old baby. At time of writing, five other people remain missing. Hundreds of firefighters, divers, police and volunteers were deployed. The ferries were stopped. Electricity shut down.
It was an horrific state of emergency, likely to have been exacerbated by the thousands of illegal buildings on the island and the deforestation and cementification that has gone on for decades.
Like the rest of the world, Italy is being increasingly affected by the storms and flash floods that are becoming more frequent as the world’s temperature rises.
The Pope gave his thoughts and prayers for the flood victims and their families.