Educational Dune Garden in the D’Annunzio Pine Forest named for Lola Di Stefano

On Friday, November 25, 2022, in Pescara, the inauguration of the Educational Dune Garden in the D’Annunzio Pine Forest was held. A garden created by the Soroptimist Clubs of Pescara and Teramo as part of the “Un bosco insieme” (A woodland together) project, a new initiative launched by Soroptimist International d’Italia in partnership with the weTree Association.


In Pescara, the project was carried out in collaboration with the Municipality of Pescara and Banca Mediolanum.


Native species such as laurestine (Viburnum Tinus), Phillyrea, myrtle, lentisk, Aleppo pine, Arbutus unedo (strawberry tree) and cistus were planted.


The aim of this educational garden situated in an urban setting is to stimulate knowledge and protection of our ecosystems destroyed by human interventions and now endangered by impending climate change. It also wants to be an example of how to make our cities more environmentally sustainable.


Un Bosco Insieme” (A woodland together) is a new initiative launched by Soroptimist International d’Italia, a historic association of women fighting for women’s empowerment and environmental sustainability in line with the goals of the UN 2030 Agenda, and weTree, an all-female project for disseminating good green practices among citizens and for creating, in Italian cities, green areas named after women who have distinguished themselves for their commitment to a better society.


The Educational Dune Garden was named after a special woman, LOLA DI STEFANO, a gold medalist for civilian valor and scholastic merit because, in an accident in January 1954 at the Montecatini Company plants, she was asphyxiated by chlorine fumes while heroically bringing her schoolchildren from Bussi Officine to safety.


Present at the ceremony, among others, were:
Soroptimist National President Giovanna Guercio, President of the weTree Association Ilaria Borletti Buitoni, President of the Pescara Soroptimist Club Elena Petruzzi, Mayor and Vice Mayor of Pescara Carlo Masci and Giovanni Santilli, Mayor of Bussi Salvatore Lagatta, etc.


The inauguration was preceded by a short conference, addressed to middle school students, held starting at 10 a.m. at the Ennio Flaiano Auditorium, in support of the International Campaign ORANGE THE WORLD, on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Dedicated to

  • Lola Di Stefano was born in Bussi sul Tirino (Abruzzo, Italy) in 1920, the daughter of Amedeo Di Stefano, a worker at the local Montecatini chemicals factory, and Concetta La Gatta.


    With dreams of becoming a schoolteacher, Lola graduated from the Istituto Magistrale’s teacher training course, beginning her work experience in various small mountain towns in Abruzzo, such as Ofena and Sant’Eufemia a Maiella, until she returned to her village, to the school in Bussi Officine, a few dozen meters from the chemical factory, to be a teacher to the children of the workers whom she, unmarried, felt were also her own.


    On the morning of January 19, 1954, 5 tons of chlorine leaked from a cistern. Everyone ran for their lives. She made sure all the pupils put a handkerchief over their mouths, and went in and out of the school several times until the children boarded the bus that carried them to safety in Capestrano, far away from the toxic cloud. In her haste she forgot about her own safety and did not protect her mouth from the chlorine, which filled her lungs. She died on January 29, 1954, after 10 days of suffering.

    For her heroic act, Lola was awarded a gold medal for civil valor and three schools were named after her: in Bussi, in Sulmona, and in Rome.