Cruise disaster sparks macabre tourism
23 January 2012, 15:23
Giglo - Hundreds of Italian mainlanders hopped onto
ferries in Porto Santo Stefano on the Tuscan coast to visit Giglio, site
of the capsized wreck of the Costa Concordia, raising the ire of some
of the islanders.
Clambering over portside rocks, they snapped photos and made videos of the wreck to bring back home with them macabre mementos.
called us jackals," said Silvana Pasqualetti, of the islanders after
she and her family set foot on the dock to view the wreckage. With her
husband, adult son, and the son's girlfriend and niece, the family set
out before daybreak from their home in Viterbo north of Rome on the
mainland for Giglio.
"It's something you don't see every day,"
said her son, Massimo Menghini, aged 29, as the family caught an evening
ferry back to the mainland. "Your jaw drops open when you see it in
person, because it's history," he said
Pasqualetti added that she
didn't "feel like a jackal" because "this macabre tourism brings
tourist revenue to the islanders", whom she described as "exquisite"
Natives of the tiny Italian island of Giglio come from
hardy stock whose distant ancestors were accustomed to surviving
ruthless raids by pirates and many today eke out a living from often
But when islanders gaze
out on the capsized wreck of the Costa Concordia, lying lifelessly on
its side just outside their port like some giant beached creature from
the sea, they pray and sigh in sorrow.
"Mamma mia, please excuse
me, it makes me so emotional. Mamma mia," said Ornella Monti, whose
house on Giglio, near the customs police station at the port, looks
squarely out at the shipwreck.
"I had it all in front of my
house," a weeping Monti said on Sunday, as she lit electric candles in
San Lorenzo church. "Dear God, help us."
"Let's give a lot of
light for this girl," said Monti, lighting another candle and referring
to a 5-year-old Dayana Arlotti, an Italian girl, who along with her
father, is among the missing in the January 13 accident.
the 1 500 islanders, a tough breed of fishermen and their families who
repair fishing nets by hand in the winter and take tourists out in
painted wooden boats after a night of fishing at sea, were still shaken
by the tragedy which unfolded in front of their eyes.
rushed out with blankets when shivering survivors stepped off lifeboats
or staggered up rocks after swimming ashore when the evacuation of the 4
200 passengers and crew turned chaotic.
Reminder of tragedy
Islanders offered children milk and biscuits, and invited stunned families into their homes to warm and calm themselves.
a table in the church where Mass was celebrated on Sunday were an array
of items that surviving passengers had brought into San Lorenzo the
night of the shipwreck - life vests, helmets, pieces of rope - reminders
of the precarious nature of life at sea that islanders, 15km across
from the mainland, know well.
From atop Giglio's highest peak,
nearly 500m above sea level, and aided by binoculars, spectators to the
tragedy can spy stacks of lounge chairs, chained together on the deck
near the ship's swimming pool and kiddie pool, emptied of their water
when the Concordia pitched over about 90°.
On the other side of
the Concordia, visible only from those approaching on boats is the
gaping, 70m long gash, sliced into the hull of the ship when it sailed
too close to a reef well known to scuba divers and sailors and near an
isolated stretch of coast a few kilometres south of the bustling port.
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