L'Aquila is a small town in an italian region usually not familiar to foreigners, Abruzzo. The earthquake struck in the middle of the night (nine o'clock PM EST) a few miles from the town, near the mountains that had a place in history when Benito Mussolini was held prisoner for a couple of weeks in 1943, before a spectacular escape staged by the Germans.
At the time I'm writing we know of 50 people dead in the earthquake and 50,000 out of their home. TV is showing many shattered houses and routes. The quake was felt in a big part of the country, even in Rome. Earlier in the night a smaller quake had struck Romagna, where cities like Rimini and Ravenna are. For the whole night many people have been exchanging news on Friendfeed and Twitter, while newsrooms where still dark and silent.
Update: Death toll is up to 100 now, 1 PM EST