‘We're One Big Family': Italians in San Diego Mourn Quake Victims

San Diegans in Little Italy say the deadly quake is top of mind and many are trying to raise funds for the victims

Italians living in San Diego are mourning the victims of the deadly 6.2-magnitude earthquake that struck central Italy and killed at least 250 people, saying the tragedy hits close to home since, in the Italian culture, everyone is family.

“We are a big family; it’s something in Italy, we grow up with, because all the families are very big,” said Alfonso Piscane, chef of the restaurant Civico 1845 in San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood. “In front of this big tragedy, when we really show the best part of us. We show our big heart. But to be honest with you, it doesn’t matter where you come from, we all feel like we need to do something to help in the way we can.”

Piscane, who is originally from the Amalfi Coast in Southern Italy, told NBC 7 that Civico 1845 is in the process of raising funds for the victims of the Italy earthquake.

Starting Monday, if a patron orders the “Amatriaciana” dish from the menu (spaghetti, pork cheek, pecorino cheese and tomato sauce), the eatery will donate 100 percent of the money from that dish to the quake victims. The item will be offered for $16 for lunch and dinner; the fundraiser lasts for two weeks.

Meanwhile, a group of Italian men who meet every day for lunch at Little Italy’s Café Zucchero told NBC 7 on Thursday that they’re trying to put together a fundraiser for the victims, too, via other local restaurants.

Andrea Brudeddi, who is from Umbria, works at Solunto in Little Italy and told NBC 7 his family was near the epicenter of the deadly quake. He said they are all okay, but frightened.

“It never happened an earthquake with this strength in Italy. [It] lasted for more than two minutes,” Brudeddi explained. “It’s something really scary because you feel like you can’t do anything. It’s already tough being here when you have family and friends far away, and when you have a situation like that, it makes the situation even harder.”

Brudeddi said that for all staffers at Solunto, the quake is top of mind.

Joseph Sanfilippo, of Sicily, told NBC 7 he often has brunch in Little Italy with fellow Italians. Echoing Piscane’s thoughts, Sanfilippo said he feels for the victims because Italians are all family.

“Our culture, we’ve very close, we’re one big family and when something like that happens we all care about it,” he told NBC 7.

On Thursday, aftershocks rocked the quake zone in central Italy as rescue crews continued to work to find more survivors and victims in the rubble left behind in the three ancient communities that were hardest hit, including the medieval hilltop town of Amatrice.

Rescuers expect the death toll to rise. Scores of survivors are injured and being treated in area hospitals.

Some incredible stories of survival have emerged from the rubble, as well as deep sadness from those who lost family members, friends and neighbors in the seismic catastrophe.

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