The big italian river

Stories and images related to water in the Po Valley

"There is a very strong bond, a close relationship between the places we live and the thoughts that come to our heads. Our way of seeing the world, our beliefs, our hopes and our fears, arise from our own experiences, from roads we travel through, from the countryside and rivers that surround us, from the houses that host us and their ability to welcome and reassure us. (1)

In a certain sense we could say that even the landscape has a soul. This is valid if we think of the soul as a vital principle, a composite essence, in the case of the landscape arising from the sum of different elements: the natural places, the character of the people who live there, the climate, the architecture and many other peculiar characters. Elements that are there for all to see, but are not for this reason simple to grasp, or immediate to describe, because the soul of the landscape, despite having roots in appearance, also has strong links with interiority. (2)

Fantastic creatures are born from these bonds, and live in people's heads and stories. They are the responses that communities created to interpret and give meaning to otherwise incomprehensible phenomena and events, to educate, to transmit values and ideas, for play and for rebellion..." (1)

I also add my personal hypothesis that these fantastic creatures may represent not only a banal search for explanations of incomprehensible natural phenomena, but may also be the internal sedimentation of ancestral memories, of even collective experiences of ancient and forgotten events of which we have the conscious memory. It would be too banal otherwise to reduce everything to simple stories, human beings always need to fantasize and fictionalise, reality alone is not enough for us, it is tasteless food. Fantasizing, telling, passing on and fictionalizing is a need of our soul.

These creatures could come from a distant past, and even have merged with recent memories or events in order to generate new symbolic languages, they could come from reminiscences of ancient worlds very different from how we know the world today, or perhaps even from parallel times or other dimensions, which could be fantastic things, but could also not be, because after all life is a great mystery, and in this field even the most brutal scientist has no certainty whatsoever.

The marshy and marshy areas of the Po Valley were places that were in many ways difficult, scary, treacherous, and full of dangers of all kinds; popular imagination populated them with monsters and fantastic creatures of all kinds, then on closer inspection perhaps not even so much fantastic, probably just a little fictionalized.

Fantastic animals were also depicted on the posters of the annual Georgica fair which is held every year on the banks of the Po in Guastalla, these from 2022 are very beautiful and particular, they wink at the imagery that populates the fantasies of the river people. making them artistic icons.

(1) from Fantastic Creatures of the Po Valley and surrounding areas by Luciano Pantaleoni - Incontri Editrice

(2) Celati, The soul of the plain- di F.Barbieri (24EMILIA.COM)

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