Refloated Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia has embarked on its final voyage as it rolled out of the port of Giglio for the very last time. It is expected to arrive at the port of Genoa on Sunday, at which it will began a 2-year dismantling and scrapping operation.
"It is a great day for Giglio," 49-year-old Mario Solari, a resident at the island, told Wall Street Journal. "This has been an open wound for 2½ years and now the island can begin the healing process."
But not everyone is jumping ecstatically over Costa Concordia's final departure.
Antonella Matera, another local who described herself as "pure blood Gigliese," said she is more sad to see the people who helped the cruise liner get up on its feet, so to speak.
"It's right that it's going," she told the Guardian. "But it's sad to see all the staff go. By now we had become a real family."
Giglio, an Italian island located off the coast of Tuscany, has a close-knit community. Life on the picturesque island was practically sober and peaceful. "We were a perfect place, a best kept secret," Mayor Sergio Ortelli told CNN.
Until Costa Concordia's grounding on Jan 2012 which killed at least 30 people and injured 64 others. The accident woke up the seemingly peaceful and sleeping island, with locals rushing to rescue most of the more than 4,200 passengers and crew onboard. The Gigliese not only opened their hearts but also their homes to the survivors.
Afterwards, 2,000 workers from all over the world arrived on the island to start working on Costa Concordia's salvaging operations. These people worked round the clock, forcing the locals to find ways and means to accommodate their basic needs.
"Our whole perspective changed," Rosalba Brizzi, owner of Bar Fausto in the center of the port, told CNN. "No one ever challenged our way of doing things before. We were set in our ways and then suddenly our little island had to adjust to one of the most diverse populations anywhere in Italy. Can we go back to how we were before? I don't know how to do that."
Brizzi's bar has become a favourite spot for the salvage crews.
"Our lives have been so enriched by this experience, and I don't mean monetarily. I've met people from Samoa, from South Africa, from places I had never heard of," she said. "They've brought their families, they show us pictures from home. And now we will lose them all. They won't come back."
Costa Concordia's the departure from Giglio finally signals the start of the island's environmental recovery phase, expected to last several months. The New York Times reported salvage workers will try to clean the seafloor of the debris, oil and everything that spilled from the cruise liner, and will replant the rare marine flora that once attracted recreational divers to the island.