On november 23, 1980 an earthquake struck inland areas of Campania and Basilicata; it was one of the most disastrous catastrophes of recent Italian history for the extent of the affected area and the number of victims and injured. National media have often focused their attention on the rebuilding period and its corruption and clientelism scandals and they contributed to shape a representation of seism neglecting the tragic experience of affected people. In order to investigate this experience, memory is a privileged eld: the stories of witnesses who lived in those areas before the catastrophe, who attended the nature’s rage and then experienced following changes, may open new scenarios for understanding large-scale disasters which, by imposing themselves as authentic divides, change the path of entire communities. Indeed, besides informing us about events which can be overlooked by media and by of cial history, memory helps us to understand people’s own interpretations and opinions, the way they faced and reworked the trauma, the signi cance that, 36 years after, that tragic event takes. The paper shows the different phases of the «path of memory» analyzing interviews to witnesses conducted in some severely affected villages. What comes to light is the individual and collective interpretation of the past, how the protagonists of that time give meaning and sense to the change, through direct and indirect experiences, stories, opinions and expectations.
Keywords: Earthquake; Memory; Experience; Case study.