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From the opening of the travelogue:
“Due billetti per Assisi,” the Storyteller ordered train tickets in his best Italian, in the grand station of Milan, Italy, one morning in the middle of October, 1997.
The ticket agent replied in English, “There are earthquakes in Assisi!” Then proudly, he continued, “We, in Milan, do not have earthquakes, situated as we are in the great Po valley upon a vast water table. Do your really want to go to Assisi? Stay here. Go to the opera instead.”
“Grazie,” the Storyteller said as he took the large orange cardboard tickets, the size of airplane tickets. “Yes, we know there are earthquakes in Assisi.”
The earthquakes began September 27. Storyfest Journey’s Pilgrimage To Saint Francis’and St. Claire’s Assisi was scheduled to begin October 19 with nineteen people. We called Leonard Murphy, a seismologist, who told us about the nature of the particular earthquakes in Assisi. “These earthquakes are unusual,” he said. “They usually occur in connection with volcanoes in the middle of the ocean. Unlike California earthquakes, they will continue for a very long time at the same intensity. Most of the damage has been done. Go on your trip. You are safe. Just don’t stand under any stone arches.” And that is how we found ourselves, waiting on the train platform in Milan.