Romans take a holiday after charlatan predicts earthquake

If Rome's usually bustling streets seem less busy than usual today it will be because hundreds of thousands of locals have decided to vacate the Eternal City for 24 hours – on the off-chance there might be a devastating earthquake.

Predictions of a disaster in the capital on 11 May 2011, attributed to a long dead pseudo-scientist, Raffaele Bendandi, have been dismissed and even ridiculed by public safety officials for weeks. But this hasn't stopped many Romans planning a day off so they can head for the country just to be on the safe side.

According to La Repubblica, 20 per cent fewer people than usual are expected to be present in Rome's schools and offices today. This was confirmed by figures quoted elsewhere in the media suggesting the number of days off requested by workers is up by fifth compared with 11 May last year.

Rumours about Benandi's dire predictions have been proliferating on social networking sites for week or even months.

At the start of April the civil protection agency began putting put out notices telling people not to panic after concern about the charlatan's predictions started to swell. The national television network RAI has run programmes aimed at preventing fear of a tremor. The city's La Sapienza University even organised an earthquake information open day, in combination with the National Institute of Vulcanology, to dispel the fears.

But Romans' concerns appeared to be down to Chinese whispers, much less cod-science. Paola Lagorio, the president of an association dedicated to Bendandi, which preserves all his manuscripts, claimed there was no clear reference to any major earthquake in Rome in 2011, despite claims to the contrary circulating in internet chat rooms.

Bendandi, who died in 1979 aged 86, did make many prophesies, however, and believed earthquakes could be predicted accurately on the basis of the interaction between the planets, the moon and the sun.

In 1923 he forecast a quake would hit the central Adriatic region of the Marches on 2 January the following year. He was out by two days, and, given the numbers of portentous warnings he produced, it might be argued that sooner or later he was bound to strike lucky.

Nonetheless, Italy's main newspaper Corriere della Sera called him: "the man who forecasts earthquakes". As a result Bendandi's fame grew and in 1927 he was awarded the Italian version of a knighthood by the Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. Later in life, as he started to unnerve too many people, Mussolini forbade him publishing further forecasts on earthquakes, on threat of exile.

In Rome today, memories are still vivid of the 2009 L'Aquila earthquake, on the other side of Apennines, which killed more than 300 people and could also be felt in the capital.

Some high-profile Roman citizens have publicly stated that they will ignore the 11 May earthquake prediction.

The actor and TV presenter Claudio Amendola, said: "An earthquake in Rome. I don't believe it.

"I'm staying in my city. The city's eternal, it can't be destroyed."

Sticking to the scientific facts, rather than tempting fate, Franco Gabrielli, head of the civil protection agency, said: "Instead of concentrating on these urban legends, we should be checking to see if our houses are constructed to resist earthquakes."

Suggested Topics
Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Nursery Assistant Plymouth

£10000 - £20000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd...

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week