Seven years on from that fateful day, those who lost their homes have been rehoused in new complexes in the city's redeveloped suburbs.
Today, L'Aquila is still home to 70,000 people.
Yet while 95 percent of the suburbs have been rebuilt, the historic centre remains a ghost town, currently home to about 250 open building sites.
Local authorities have received €12 billion in relief funds since the earthquake and say they will be able to finish rebuilding the centre by 2019.
So far at least, rebuilding attempts have been dogged by a string of high-profile corruption scandals and bureaucratic logjams.
Guido, a local shopkeeper told The Local he thought it would take "at least 20 years" to finish the job, adding that "more should have been done to help keep the centre alive."
The slow progress has also caused the city to lose its identity, residents say.
Focal points where they can meet to socialize are still lacking, and with 56 out of every 100 residents unemployed, many see their futures elsewhere.
The Local's Patrick Browne reports from L'Aquila: