came without warning. I suppose, they always do. Had we been concentrating on Italian news broadcasts, then it might have been less of a surprise, since it seems they'd had one several days earlier over in the Gran Sasso region...however, since that hadn't merited a mention on Radio Four, it had passed us by, entirely.
I'd just come in from (finally) finishing the new bed beside the South-East pergola, where the sight-lines for the new construction had ended up taking the pergola right over the pre-existing flowerbed, which meant creation of a new bed, and then moving all of the plants (six roses, a deutsia, a cotoneaster, an abelia, and a 'cuckoo' shrub which arrived, unannounced, several years ago from the vivaio, hiding in the pot that brought a magnolia stellata...but which has subsequently grown to become quite a handome whatever-it-is). The day was sunny but cold, and it wasn't tempting to remain outside any longer than necessary. Four-footed was a bit disgruntled, as he believes that once outside, we should stay there until dusk (or dinnertime, whichever comes first). And so, mid-afternoon, I was idly looking at my computer screen (TD doing likewise, on the other side of the desk), and became vaguely conscious of a noise as though somebody was walking heavily over the floor overhead (unlikely, since it is only a low-ceilinged attic) or in the room next door (equally unlikely, since nobody else was in the house); then, there was a sensation not unlike those times at an Islington dinner party, when a Northern Line train passes underneath, with a distant rumble. As the french-windows began to rattle noisily, making the four-footed jump up and stare, and pictures started to do likewise, we looked at each other and said - with remarkable acuity - "My God! It's an earthquake!"...by which time the whole house was shaking alarmingly, with a distinct sideways motion underfoot. Part of me had visions of the thirteenth century walls which tower over us (and don't look in good shape at the best of times) coming crashing through the roof...and part was thinking that surely we should get under the table, or something, but that it would be quite complicated to do, as the stretcher arrangement doesn't lend itself to people and dog seeking refuge there....And as I was still pondering this and wondering if it was going to get any worse, after ten seconds or so, it finished. Thankfully. Followed by an eerie silence, as I imagine the entire city did what we were doing, which was to sit there in mild shock for a moment or two.
Apparently, it was a five-on-the-richter-scale event, and the epicentre was in the Garfagnana. Not very far away, relatively. No serious damage anywhere, though, and no casualties. In fact, really nothing to laugh at, at all. Once is quite enough, though.