Of Tectonic and Other Priceless Plates


I had lunch this weekend with Leo, Vincenzo and Hasan, a Pakistani student here in Rome whose parents are friends with Leo from his Pakistan years. We took the poor kid to Frascati, home of pork and wine; being Muslim, I’d say he was less than thrilled, but Leo and Vincenzo prepared a delightful meal we were all able to enjoy.


We ate at the Osteria dell’Olmo, Frascati’s oldest cantina. You bring your own food; they supply the wine made on the premises. A delightful idea if I ever heard one.


What does a lovely day in the hills outside Rome have to do with the devastating earthquake last night in L’Aquila? It was a phone call Leo received that day, from a distressed client.

Leo was consigned to create a long glass table per the specs to given to him by the client’s architect. The table was to hold a priceless collection of 300-year-old plates the client had inherited from his family. Leo made the table, but asserted early, loudly and often that the table would not hold the collection even under optimum conditions – let alone in the event of an earthquake or other act of God. He even went so far as to design a scale model of a more sturdy structure.

The phone call he received that day during our lunch was word that the table had, in fact, collapsed just as the last plate was placed – although, luckily, the clients and the architect were able to grab the plates from the table before it all crashed to the ground. He has to meet with the now-sheepish architect to design another structure.

After the phone call, we talked for a while about it and laughed at the possibility of an earthquake breaking those priceless plates. Which is why, when I woke up this morning, I thought I had dreamed of being awakened by an earthquake.

But one look at the news told me it was no dream, and was in fact a nightmare for over 100,000 displaced Italians in L’Aquila, located 60 miles east of Rome.

Leo called me from a tour he was giving in the Vatican; it seems they closed an entire wing of the museums pending investigations of some earthquake-related damage.

The plates are OK.


7 thoughts on “Of Tectonic and Other Priceless Plates

  1. Apparently they aren’t the only earthquakers, one just occ’d in Japan, and Alaska – better bubble wrap the plates! Lovely photos- love the concept of the restaurant!

  2. Wow, I’m so glad you, Leo AND the plates are okay. Hopefully it wasn’t all that galavanting around we did that triggered it…

    Thanks Melanie for the link, I was wanting to find an organization.

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