The fearless battle of an entire region to protect our land, our beaches, our health, our traditions, our communities, our future. One by one, we have empowered the common man using the irresistible weapons of knowledge. To the oil companies that intend to destroy us, ENI, Petroceltic, MOG, Edison, Shell: let it be crystal clear.

You are not welcome here.

We will fight to the bitter end.

We shall defeat you.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

L' Abruzzo

Very few people are familiar with Abruzzo, a magnificent region in the heart of Italy just an hour away from Rome. Our land has been blessed by breathtaking mountain views overlooking the blue Adriatic sea, and is scattered by peaceful medieval towns, with an abundance of castles, churches and fortresses where time seems to flow at slower, more gentle pace.

Because we are off the beaten path of most tourists, and because historically the Apennines made it difficult to communicate with the outside world, we have managed to keep our true essence of a strong and practical people yet kind and gentle, unfazed by city glamour. Most ancient traditions have remained intact, and are still celebrated the same way they were centuries ago.

A third of our land is designated as a national park. Nature and wildlife thrive here, and you can go from mountain skiing to swimming in the sea within the space of a few hours. Our food is hearty and generous - some of the best olive oils in the world come from Abruzzo and our Montepulciano is exported and sold all over the world. Perhaps you have eaten la pasta "De Cecco" o "Del Verde" - they are all made right here, at the feet of our beloved and white Majella mountain.

Here are some reviews about us, by various world newspapers:

The New York Times (USA)
"..we were so drawn by Abruzzi’s enchanted landscapes that we returned in the spring."

The Brisbane Times (Australia)
"It is as if Tibet were bordered by California"

Wines of the New York Times (USA)
"Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is a good, solid, dependable wine"

The Times (UK)
"Abruzzo is the king of agrotourism"

The Guardian (UK)
"a corner of Italy which holds firmly on to to its unique identity. See it while you still can.

The Irish Times (Ireland)
"some of the most dizzyingly beautiful natural scenery"

The Sunday Telegraph (Australia)
"an instant reminder of that gentler life of yesteryear"

The Herald Tribune (UK)
"Consider montepulciano d'Abruzzo a world-class bargain"

Abruzzo is where I grew up, where one of the fiercest battles of World War Two was fought between Germans and Canadians, the so called "Battle of Ortona", and the place many people left after the war searching for a better life. Madonna's parents emigrated from Abruzzo as well.

Our land also holds oil. Not a lot, not of good quality, but in these times of greed and of "drill baby drill" every drop seems to be precious to the oil companies, it does not matter where it is, what else exists on the ground, what aspirations we people have, what we want for our land.

The image above is part of a larger winery and olive orchard estate that the Italian company ENI (NYSE:ENI) plans to uproot and where to build an oil refinery and an oil field, 500 meters from the sea, a few meters away from people's homes, farms, and livelihoods and using obsolete technology. Their plan is to drill 35% of Abruzzo, all along the coast, at the feet of la Majella and straight to the heart of national parks.

This is a story of political corruption, of greed, of big oil trumpeting over the rights of the people, of a government that does not listen to its own citizens. It is also a story of the love of common people for their land, united across ages, professions, political views, that stretches across continents thanks to the web and that keeps us going. None of us has much power as individuals, but as a community our fight is strong and we are determined to keep our land safe from ENI and its associates. Driven by the people's will and our activism a moratorium against drilling was passed and will protect our land until 2010. Our goal is to have a state wide moratorium for the next twenty years and to keep oil rigs away from our sea.

We want to keep Abruzzo the way it is today, green, peaceful and romantically drenched in nature for generations to come.

I have set up this blog so as to inform the English speaking community of what ENI, Petroceltic, MOG, Edison and other irresponsible and greedy oil company plan to do to our coastal and inland communities. If you have visited Abruzzo, if you can trace your roots back to us, if you simply want to fight for a just cause, the time and the chance to help is now.