This week we were in Teramo, Italy for 3 days. Derek and colleagues from OIE were running a conference and workshops for practitioners from European member countries (of OIE) working in the field of Animal Welfare. Teramo is a university town and is known for its International Centre for Veterinary Training & Information which is part of Teramo University’s IZSAM centre.
Istituto Zooprofilattico sperimentale
Founded September 2, 1941 the “Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale dell’Abruzzo e del Molise G. Caporale” (IZSAM) is one of the ten experimental zooprophylactic institutes in Italy. Its job is to inspect animals’ sanitary conditions, their health conditions, the origin of products, veterinarian vigilance, education, experimentation and scientific investigation, and the ambient care.
Teramo is in the region of Abruzzo which extends from the Appennine mountains on its western edge to the Adriatic coast on its eastern side. The largest city in the region, Pescara, sits right on the sea, and Teramo, where we were is about 40km inland. We flew to Rome then travelled about 2 ½ hours by bus to reach Teramo.
The city itself is typical of the region where you can see with your own eyes layers of ancient history built into the town’s current structure. There are remains of an ancient Roman theatre dating back to 2nd century (AD) constructed in the time of Emperor Hadrian. There is now a project underway to restore the site as over the centuries the building materials of this grand theatre were recycled and used in “new” constructions such as the cathedral built in the 12th Century, called the Duomo of Teramo (or more fully the “Basilica Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and Saint Berardo”).
Cheek by jowl with the Roman theatre and other ancient structures are more recent buildings, the new abutting the old, or squeezing into available odd-shaped spaces that must be a builder’s nightmare. Adding to the mix of history, nature has had a significant hand in that major earthquakes have damaged the town. (The nearby city of L’Aquila suffered a major earthquake in 2009 killing 297 people and damaging historical buildings there.)
I enjoyed wandering around the narrow streets, not following any map, just taking in the sights and trying to absorb the reality of how much time stood between these historical layers and me being there.
Amongst all that history I survived on about 5 words of Italian:
Buon giorno – good morning or good day, and buona sera – good evening
Arrivederci – good bye, and ciao – a more informal bye
Grazie – thank you
Salute – cheers, good health
Not a lot of people spoke English, so polite greetings, liberal use of grazie, guesswork and sign language meant I found nice coffee and snacks. It did make me realise how much French I know already. It was as much a relief to see or hear French news as English news to get the gist of what was happening in the world while I was out of it.
I am writing this on Friday 8th March, which is apparently International Women’s Day. So I am going to tell you about an interesting person I met. She was one of the practitioners attending the conference and I happened to sit at the same dinner table as her a couple of times. This lady trained as a veterinarian and now works in the field of animal welfare, she also completed a PhD and has 9 (nine) children ranging in age from 3 to 22. She was interesting to talk to about her job and scientific issues relating to her work, about her family and how they manage their routines – there’s no household help; a cleaner, nanny or suchlike. Very impressive and very nice.
All in all my excursion to Teramo was most enjoyable. I am going to make sure I do a bit more language preparation for future visits out of France though.