Legend has it that before his death in 1979, the self-taught Italian seismologist Raffaele Bendandi predicted that a massive earthquake would strike Rome on May 11, 2011. Well, here we are, and the AP is reporting that while 22 minor earthquakes hit Italy by noon (this, apparently, is normal), Bendandi's "big one" has yet to materialize.
That's not to say that the prophesy itself, building strength on the Internet, hasn't rocked the city. According to The Telegraph, one in five Romans requested time off work today, others are keeping children home from school or hightailing it to the beach or countryside, and local newspapers are publishing survival guides. Reuters reports that in Rome's Chinatown, many shopkeepers shuttered their stores and posted signs saying they were closed for "serious family reasons" or "for a wedding" (the sign above reads, "Closed for inventory from May 10 to 12"). Italian officials, according to the AP, went into full myth-debunking mode: The country's Civil Protection department posted information on its website emphasizing that quakes can't be predicted, city hall answered questions via toll-free numbers, state TV ran special programs, and the national geophysics institute had an open house to teach the public about seismology.