Bearing gifts of crockery and cutlery in their luggage, Louis Robert, director of the Diekirch Hotel School in Luxembourg and an AEHT Vice-President, together with Georges Schmitz, a representative of Villeroy & Boch and with Aldo Palaoro representing the Italian cutlery manufacturer Broggi – these three men made their way to L'Aquila – the town located in the Abruzzi Mountains where just over a year ago the IPPSAR IIS ‘LEONARDO DA VINCI’ vocational hotel school suffered considerable damage during an earthquake.
On April 6th 2009 Central Italy was devastated by a violent earthquake which according to official figures caused more than a hundred deaths. So many people remember the dramatic pictures of L'Aquila, capital of the Abruzzi region, located around 100 kilometres north-east of Rome, which bore the brunt of this natural catastrophe. The thousands of buildings destroyed in this medieval town included the IPPSAR IIS ‘LEONARDO DA VINCI’ vocational hotel school
For many years Villeroy & Boch has supported the vocational training of young people in the gastronomy and hospitality sector through a number of partnerships across the world. Thus the request to help with re-equipping the badly damaged L’Aquila School found a sympathetic ear with the Villeroy & Boch management. In collaboration with their Italian partner, the Broggi cutlery manufacturer, they arranged for the delivery of a complete set of crockery and cutlery to this beleaguered school.
During a visit to the L’Aquila School, the representatives from Broggi and Villeroy & Boch, accompanied by Louis Robert, had the opportunity to see for themselves the extensive damage caused by the earthquake. In many places they could still see cracked and collapsed walls, even though reconstruction work has already started. Since the classrooms can no longer be used, the classes are currently being held in containers. ‘To avoid serious disruption to the teaching programme, the first thing we did was to repair the damage to the kitchen and restaurant’, explained Domenico Evangelista, director of the L'Aquila School, before continuing with his expressions of gratitude: ‘In these difficult times it is touching to receive this aid and to know of people’s support for us. We are so glad that we have not been forgotten. Just like the knight of the Abruzzi, we too have the obligation to accomplish our duty, with honour and passion, in rebuilding our town, even if it requires a long time.’
Following the official ceremony at which the new crockery and cutlery were presented to the school, the visitors had the chance to see for themselves the extent of the devastation in the centre of L’Aquila and the surrounding area, as well as the on-going programme of reconstruction.
Paolo Placidi, owner of a porcelain business in L'Aquila, not only conducted the visitors around the devastated residential areas, but also proudly showed them the new residential blocks which had been built in the space of only four months. ‘All of the 19 residential quarters were built using a new earthquake-proof technique, and now provide new temporary homes for thousands of people who have been forced to abandon their houses. Now no-one is obliged to live in a tent, and all the children can go to school again’, said the businessman with more than a hint of pride.