In a report about the earthquake of 11 January 1693 the Bishop of Syracuse described a dramatic sight: “The sun as obscured, the air, blackened and turbid, so for the dark and bleeding clouds, as well as the dense dust of the buildings that exhaled from the fall of the structures.”
According to the chroniclers, the atmosphere seemed suspended in a seemingly endless succession of earthquake tremors, though the catastrophe in fact took place in the early afternoon of 11th January and lasted as long as the prayer “De Profundis” (Out of the depths).
The inhabitants of the Val di Noto ran to different shelters according to their social class: the rich reached their properties outside the walls, the poor in other places, from the woods to makeshift shelters, haystacks, and the various plains located far from the borders of the cities.
The clergy fled to more distant monasteries, and let’s not forget the chronicle’s description of the wandering nuns with nowhere to go.
The interruption of the secular rules of a strictly disciplined life, such as seclusion, created the image of a society broken apart by dramatic circumstances.