ROME: A former quarry on the Sicilian island of Lampedusa will be transformed into a natural theater and a memorial dedicated to all those who have died trying to reach the Italian island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea.
The island’s mayor, Totò Martello, announced that the memorial will be paid for by the municipality and will be constructed between Cala Francese and Punta Sottile, the landing area for most of the boats that have arrived over the past 10 years carrying thousands of migrants, mostly coming from Tunisia.
“I have always been convinced that a person’s fundamental rights should include the right to culture, to share ideas and preserve collective memory. This is why I have strongly promoted this project,” Martello told Arab News.
Martello explained that the area of the former quarry will host a “memorial on migrations: a place where one can pause and reflect, meditate and pray — a space that must be open to all religions and faiths. Prayer will be the best way to remember those who died in the Mediterranean, no matter what religion they practiced. This is why the memorial will be an interreligious one.”
The area will showcase one of the boats used by migrants to reach Lampedusa. 368 Holes will be dug into the south-eastern wall of the cave to commemorate each of the victims of the shipwreck on October 3, 2013, when 368 people died and 20 were reported missing.
“Nobody must forget that particular tragedy — nor any of the tragedies we have witnessed in the past years,” the mayor said. “Too many people died, and everyone has to do his best at every level to avoid this happening again.”
The memorial will also be a tribute to those trying their best to turn the Mediterranean into a “sea of peace,” Martello added.
“We need to remember the people who have died trying to reach a better future. And we must also thank those who have been doing their best to save lives,” he said.
The Teatro Naturale della Cava (natural theater of the cave) next to the memorial will, he explained, “be a space available for all people of Lampedusa, as well as an attraction for those who will come and visit our island.”
Vincenzo Latina, who was awarded the Gold Medal for Italian Architecture in 2012, designed the memorial and theater.