No Matter What We Possess In Life, In the End All That We Have Is Time


| 9/7/2016 10:52:00 AM


It's Tuesday evening in Rieti and locals and regular visitors stop in the bars for a sparkling aperitivo. In the hilltown piazze, their children make friends with the Pomeranians, Bichon Frizes and spaniels who've escaped, with their owners, from Rome in August.

Amatrice is in festa. And so are these families. The light is changing, the nights are cool, the conkers are about to split their spiky reptile-green pods, there's a hint of orange in the leaves of the tigli. Which means one thing: school.

Italian earthquake 

A woman and child sit on a bench in the center of Amatrice, Italy, in the wake of the August 2016 earthquake. (Photo by Getty Images/Carl Court)
 

The writer Elena Ferrante isn't kidding. In Italy, school is gruelling, operatic. And it starts in three weeks. Along the peninsula, kids are rushing to finish their summer homework, cursing chemistry, sweating over Greek verses, looking up the web, hopelessly, for hacks, buying homework diaries in glossy black, pastel or neon. Since there is no half-term, this is the last good break until Christmas. Families are making the most of it.



But as the men and women sip their cold, glittering Negroni, Campari or Aperol Spritz, and their sons and daughters in their Converse and shorts and fake tattoos and plastic chokers play with the Roman toy dogs, Death invisible has arrived and is marking them out. She looks north to Accumoli, nods here, smiles there, cups a small warm head at the level of her cold hand. She passes the Hotel Roma with a sweep of her arm. The marketing video ignored her when promising "precious contact with nature".



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