Do you remember the twentieth of May 2012?
I admit, I didn’t recall the exact date (or even the year, if I’m honest).
But the events of that night, and what followed, have stayed with me.
We were woken up at around four in the morning by an earthquake, the first I’d ever experienced.
The sensation of our hundred-and-twenty-year-old, rather poorly-maintained home shaking was alarming.
But beyond the physical movement, which was less jarring than a ride on one of Bologna’s city buses, there was a powerful feeling of something being ‘wrong’.
It was still dark, but we could hear our neighbours’ voices outside.
None of them seemed to know what to do either.
Should we stay in the courtyard, in our pajamas, as far from any buildings as possible?
Or just go back to bed?
In the end we opted for the later, but slept little.
In the days that followed, there were several aftershocks, which was ample opportunity for everyone to acquire some earthquake lore.
The best place to stand, we told each other, is under a door jam (the Internet says differently…)
One particular morning at our Italian school, which was then on the first floor of a historic building, balanced on pillars stretching out over the sidewalk (a Bologna speciality, known as a ‘portico’), the shaking was powerful enough to stop lessons.
You could see students and teachers huddled together hopefully in the entrance-way to each classroom.
Only the Japanese remained in their seats, earthquakes being two a penny at home.
And they were, of course, right not to be alarmed.
Bologna is a medieval city, famous for its towers, one of which leans over just as alarmingly as that better-known tourist-magnet in Pisa.
If the towers are still standing after all these centuries, we reasoned, we must be on fairly safe ground!
Sadly, the same was not true for inhabitants of smaller Emilian towns nearby: twenty people were killed in one aftershock.
All this talk of disasters is by way of introducing today’s free Italian vocabulary lesson, the topic of which is ‘natural disasters’.
(Unusually, there’s some text in Italian, so the level is B1/intermediate…)
I reassure myself that, being on the flat and away from moutains, the sea and major rivers, Bologna is NOT prone to flooding, avalanches, landslips, forest fires, cyclones, tidal waves, volcanic erruptions and so on.
Hopefully we’ll all die of boredom.
Anyway, if you don’t know the words for all of those catastrophes in Italian, then today’s vocabulary lesson is just what you need!
Click here to get learning.
Or visit the club website and browse thousands of pages of free material to find something more suitable to your level and needs.