This trip could be summed up in two words. Unfortunately for you I am going to use many, many more, but not as many as I would have liked. Information for this trip was just plain lacking. I bought two or three travel books before I left on the trip and out of 1800 total pages there were about 30 pages covering the areas where we ended up working, and out of those only about 5 page covered places that we actually ended up visiting. Then there was actually being there. Oddly enough the vast majority of the people, as well as the cats and dogs, spoke something called "Italian", and just about only that. I know enough Italian to understand the menus at The Olive Garden restaurants, but that's about it. There were people that spoke English, but not enough to have deep historical and sociological discussions. "Where's the toilet?", was about the limit most of the time, which, at times, was fortunate. Even when it was possible to get answers to such complicated questions such as, "What is that building?", it was a struggle on both sides of the conversation to understand the answer. This was the perfect trip for the non-touristy tourist, which was great for me, but which was not so great for writing these web pages. Above is a picture of the castle and church of Rocca San Felice, Avellino, Campánia.
Above is a map of the area where we worked, and the proposed general locations
where some of the earthquake monitoring equipment was to be installed. There
were to be about 40 stations. I was only there for the deployment of the first
20-some, but I did get to visit all of the major areas of the project. The
sensors were to be deployed for about one year.
Italy sits at the crossroads of several tectonic plate, and sub-plate boundaries. That is the reason why you hear news about a major earthquake killing several hundred people in the country every so often. There is a lot -- geophysically speaking -- going on in Italy. This project was known as the Calábria-Apennine-Tyrrhenian/Subduction-Collision-Accretion Network, or CAT/SCAN. Some of these principle investigators (PI's) have WAY too much time on their hands, either that or they have computer programs that come up with the names like that for their projects.
In 1980 the 'ankle' of Italy was treated to a nasty earthquake. A strong magnitude 7.2 earthquake shook the central-southern Italian regions of Campánia and Basilicata and caused quite a bit of damage. The earthquake is known as the Irpina earthquake. Over 3,000 people were killed, over 7,700 were injured, and 250,000 were left homeless. No matter where we went as soon as people realized what we were doing the stories about the earthquake would start to come out. Above is a picture of a seismogram from a station that was in Campobasso, Campánia that recorded the earthquake on 23 November 1980.
After another short flight across the Atlantic Ocean (after years of flying across the Pacific Ocean, for both business and otherwise, flights across the Atlantic seem pretty short to me) the adventure began in Rome, or when in Rome, Roma. The "Mickey Mouse" cafe and snack bar in the picture above was at a gas station. A "bar" in Italy isn't quite the same as in America. You can get your favorite beverages and snacks there, but you can also pick up a loaf of bread for dinner. They are also mostly geared towards standing at the counter while you drink or eat your snack. There are usually no bar stools, so I guess they are not meant to be places to go, relax, and drink yourself silly after work. Italians eat slowly, but apparently snack quickly.