A devastating earthquake was predicted to hit Rome on May 11, 2011. This prediction was never officially released, but it grew on the internet and was amplified by the media. It was erroneously ascribed to Raffaele Bendandi, an Italian self-taught natural scientist who studied planetary motions and related them to earthquakes. Indeed, around May 11, 2011, there was a planetary alignment, and this fed the credibility of the earthquake prediction. During the months preceding May 2011, the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV) was overwhelmed with requests for information about this prediction, by the inhabitants of Rome and by tourists. Given the echo of this earthquake prediction, on May 11, 2011, the INGV decided to organize an Open Day at its headquarters in Rome, to inform the public about Italian seismicity and earthquake physics. The Open Day was preceded by a press conference two days before, to talk with journalists about this prediction, and to present the Open Day. During this ‘Day’, 13 new videos were also posted on our YouTube/INGVterremoti channel to explain earthquake processes and hazards, and to provide periodic updates on seismicity in Italy from the seismicity monitoring room. On May 11, 2011, the INGV headquarters was peacefully invaded by over 3,000 visitors, from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm: families, students with and without teachers, civil protection groups, and many journalists. This initiative that was built up in a few weeks has had very large feedback, and was a great opportunity to talk with journalists and people about earthquake prediction, and more in general about the seismic risk in Italy.
Seismic hazard; Education and outreach; Seismic risk reduction