I grew up in Sicily, Italy. We lived about 13 miles outside of Messina, in a little town called Santo Stefano. It was near the sea.
I slept in my grandfather´s bed. I remember the sound of his snoring, but it was a nice sound and didn´t bother me. In 1908, when I was five years old, there was a big earthquake and the nearby city of Messina was destroyed completely. It was near the ocean, and the water came into the city. All the big buildings that were five or six floors just collapsed. Most of the people died.
I was sleeping with my grandpa on the second floor in our house. I remember I woke up and asked him why the building was shaking. He said, “It´s an earthquake. We’re going down now any second!” because a lot of houses around us were crumbling. My grandfather said, “Don’t be afraid,” and he held me until the shaking subsided.
In our town, only two people died. My house didn´t collapse — a few more seconds of shaking and it would have though. It cracked from one end to the other end, in a big line. But it didn’t go down.