Now ‘Costa Concordia’ has gone, what lies ahead for the island of Giglio?

The feared environmental disaster after the cruise ship ran aground has not materialised – yet

Sat, Jul 26, 2014, 01:00

Ortelli admits this but argues that, overall, tourism on Giglio has dropped by 15 per cent or more in the past two years.

The island really consists of just three places: Giglio Porto, Giglio Campese and Giglio Castello. To some extent Campese and Castello have missed out on the bonanza.

What is true is that the people of Giglio reacted with huge generosity on the night of the shipwreck, not only climbing into their boats to help the 4,200 or so people off the wreck but also, afterwards, offering coffee, a dry towel and a bed for the night to many. The mayor points out that the room we are sitting in was transformed that night into a children’s dormitory.

When it comes to winning back its traditional tourists, Giglio needs to convince them that all is well, that there has indeed been no lasting pollution. In that context the clean-up of the maritime building site that has grown up around the Concordia is priority number one.

Maria Sargentini, director of the Costa Concordia Osservatorio, the state body that daily controls and oversees the environmental impact of the shipwreck, says it will take up to two years to properly clean up around Giglio. Cleaning up the land part of the Concordia site will be relatively straightforward, but one difficult issue remains with the underwater elements of the site.

When the ship was righted last September, for example, from a lying position to sitting up in the water, a concrete platform was built for it on the 20m-deep seabed on which it has been stuck since 2012.

Sargentini adds that it is important that the Costa Cruise company, which administers the Concordia, maintains its agreement to clean up any mess left behind. She adds that close monitoring may be required for a further three years.

As for the island, just about everyone from the mayor down (but perhaps not the harbourside bar owners) will have been glad to see this maritime monster depart. The memory will remain, though.

In the church of San Lorenzo, up the hill from the port, is a little glass-cased shrine containing objects such as a helmet, a life jacket, a painting, an oilskin jacket and the infant Jesus from the ship’s chapel.

These are all reminders of how passengers, wet, weary and confused, crowded into the church on the night of the shipwreck to lie down, to rest and to change into dry clothes. On the shrine is written: “We will never be able to forget . . . signed the people of Giglio.” Indeed, the island will never forget.

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