Circular silver medal with laterally-pierced loop for ribbon suspension; the face with the head of King Vittorio Emanuele III facing left circumscribed ‘VITTORIO EMANUELE III RE D’ITALIA’ (Victor Emanuel III King of Italy), signed ‘L. GIORGI’; the reverse inscribed ‘MEDAGLIA / COMMEMORATIVA / TERREMOTO / CALABRO-SICULO/ 28 DICEMBRE / 1908’ (Commemorative Medal Calabrian-Sicilian Earthquake 28 December 1908) within an oak wreath; on probably original ribbon.
The Medal was instituted by Royal Decree 79 on 20 February 1910. It is similar to the medal instituted on 6 May 1909 for those who participated in the initial relief of the earthquake of 28 December 1908 and was awarded to recognise significant contributions to the subsequent relief work.
The earthquake was the deadliest in European history with more than 100,000 deaths. It occurred at 5.20am and thus almost the entire population was indoors where the risk from collapsing buildings was greatest. However, the epicentre was in the Straits of Messina between Sicily and the Italian mainland and a deadly tidal wave (tsunami) some 12 metres (40 feet) high swept ashore into the cities of Messina in Sicily and Reggio di Calabria on the mainland and many other towns and villages along both shores, destroying more than nine-tenths of buildings and disabling all communication with the rest of Italy.