Tonight at 9.45 p.m. CET (3:45 p.m. EST) the residents of Giglio will hold a service to mark the second anniversary of the sinking of Costa Concordia.
They’ll gather at the harborfront or on the nearby beach in view of the ship; or visit San Pietro church and light candles to remember the 32 people who lost their lives when the ship hit rocks just off this tiny Tuscan island.
Unlike last year, this anniversary has not generated an enormous amount of news. The trial of Captain Francisco Schettino drags on, in the nearby town of Grossetto, and instead the focus (perhaps intentionally) has been on last Friday’s announcement, which (re)confirmed June as the likely removal date for the ship.
Progress is being made, even though two years on, the ship is still there for all to see, just yards off the shoreline. It’s lower in the water following the successful parbuckling operation in September – which I was fortunate enough to witness – but still a constant reminder of that night.
And so it makes sense that Giglio still remembers. After all, it was the residents – all 1,458 of them – who took care of Concordia’s remaining passengers and crew – all 4,200 of them – by giving them clothes, food and even put them up for the night. Hundreds ended up on the harbor front, watching events unfold in front of their small home town.
During my short time on the island I got to experience the kindness of the residents first hand, and I wanted to share that here.
During the parbuckling, the harbor was closed to all incoming or outgoing craft, just in case something went wrong. As the operation went on longer than anticipated, I found myself stranded there, with nowhere to stay.
I wear contact lenses and I needed solution (I’d left everything on the mainland), so I popped into a local pharmacist. I got talking to the man who served me, explained my plight and he told me to wait a moment.
He went out into the street and called up to an apartment above the shop. A woman’s head popped out. He explained my situation to her and next thing I knew she was in the street offering me her spare room for just a few euros.
I was so grateful. It made me think of the unquestioning kindness the islanders showed to the survivors on that terrible night.