Sunday, September 20, 2020

Flying Gazebo

Cisternino, Puglia, Italy. Sunday 05-January-2020.

First we knew was a notification on FaceBook of an incident in Cisternino centre.

We then got a WhatsApp from our friend Antonella to say that high winds had blown a roof top gazebo into the street below damaging two cars. She had been told it belonged to the English couple who had an apartment there. We were able to stop the rumour mill straightaway. Not our gazebo! We only have shade sails for our terrace and they were boxed up for the winter.

You can see why the locals thought it might be ours as it landed right outside our front door as seen here.

It turns out that it came from a roof across the way. The winds had uprooted it and blown clear across the street onto our roof where it smashed forty tiles, took out an air conditioning unit and demolished part of the parapet wall. It then fell back to the street below taking out a street light on the way down and writing off two cars parked below. By some miracle no-one was injured as this happened mid afternoon during siesta time, the shops were shut and the streets quiet.

Roof damage.

We happened to have a picture of the gazebo from when we were doing up our apartment. All that is left now are a couple of uprights.

It took some time for the emergency services to clear the debris and tow away the cars. The police were called and accessed our roof from the civic building next door. They took lots of "8 x 10 colored glossy photographs with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back" [*] and issued a full report.

It was a highlight of the week (month?) and made the local paper "Porta Grande" [** see translation by Google]


Our builder got straight onto the repairs to make the roof waterproof and the parapet safe. This was all managed locally by our friend Pietro who was invaluable. He organised everything, liaised with the authorities and the tradesmen. It would have been a real nightmare without him. 

Scaffolding and a hoist was the best way to access our roof to clear debris and bring up new materials.

Repairs in progress.

We had hoped to meet with the owner to discuss reparations and were due to fly out for the weekend of February 29th for a special parkrun and again on April 5th for the summer but COVID put paid to that. Instead we sent a recorded letter in May setting out our costs but heard nothing back. It turns out the letter was sitting unread in a letter box while he was away on business. 

When we did establish contact in June we had a very amicable conversation and agreed that settling direct was much better than the hassle and expense of an insurance claim and subsequent recouping of the money by legal means. Payment came gradually in instalments with the final payment arriving in September. Fortunately our builders were very understanding and content to wait for payment. Now all the money is in, the workmen have been paid and honour is satisfied.

* Alice's Restaurant by Arlo Guthrie

** translation by Google:

A TRAGEDY IN THE VILLAGE A large wooden gazebo literally flew over Corso Umberto. The material damage was considerable, but luckily no one passed, either on foot or by car. It was just past 3 pm on the first Sunday of the year, it was last January 5, an afternoon in which almost everyone was closed in the house due to the very strong gusts of wind and the freezing cold that characterised the early 2020.

There were also many tourists in the village, but at that time they were still comfortably seated in restaurants. In short, if that gazebo really had to fall, he couldn't have chosen a better time of the day. 

The gazebo was on the flat roof of a historic house owned by a well-known professional from Cisternino and, according to what is learned, it would have been the subject of a control by the Local Police in 2017 which would be followed by a removal order. The wooden artefact in question, once unhinged from its attachment points to the roof, located about 15 meters from the standard level, flew to the opposite pavement damaging the roof tiles and an air conditioning motor, before going down and destroy a street light and hit three cars causing various damage. A JEEP off-road vehicle of major damage, although the owner managed to bring it, it would have been barely touched, while a utilitarian KIA suffered away in gear; the worst was a Nissan Note owned by a local restaurateur. This last car was almost completely destroyed and the images show the extent of the violence of the landing of the gazebo. 

Throughout the country there was talk of the fear and risk that anyone who had found himself passing by at that juncture would have run. Fortune wanted the road to be deserted. civil protection who concretely collaborated in the clearing of the road to allow it to reopen around 8 pm, after the local police and the Pro volunteers intervened on the spot - over 4 hours of work, culminating in the removal of the last car with the tow truck.

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