my mountains



I took the liberty of borrowing the header of these lines from the title of a famous book that I read as a boy and that had very impressed me, "My Mountains", by the well-known mountaineer and explorer Walter Bonatti, one of those rare characters who leave a mark on the world and make people dream with the stories of their businesses. People animated by a great curiosity and thirst to know, to see, to know, and at the same time animated by a deep respect for the majestic mountain environment, one of those people who never give up, but don't get me wrong: I am not I aspire to become a mountaineer, and I often give up: in the mountains I go there only to hike and walk, admire and contemplate nature, sometimes alone, sometimes in company, and to take a lot of photos, obviously.

On this page I want to tell you about my relationship and my admiration for the mountains, this so suggestive and almost magical and mystical environment, where nature manifests all its beauty and its creative power: from the grandiose landscapes to the explosions of the colorful blooms , from crystalline waters to rocks with extravagant shapes, and then again small and large animals of all kinds, up to man, that of the past, who, like a skilled craftsman, using effort and tenacity, has patiently chiseled the harsh nature , softening its harshness and embellishing its appearance with suggestive paths, charming villages, daring refuges, perched castles, mystical places of worship, and even terraces, bridges and dry stone walls. All works harmoniously set in the landscape, to embellish and pay homage to the generosity offered by nature to man, creating as a whole that space-time mixture that takes the name of "history". Man, nature, history ... three parameters that often generate misleading thoughts in our territories, if considered as three independent parameters, but which together has created what our territory is.

In the mountains there are not only summit, peaks and rocky walls, vertiginous paths, via ferratas, bivouacs and refuges. There are also paths in the valley, where the landscape is and has been shaped over the centuries by man's work and needs. Each space has its own charm and its own magic, it is very nice to climb to high altitude and breathe the crisp air that smells of clouds, but it is equally nice to follow low-altitude paths, roads, mule tracks and paths, perhaps less spectaculars but not for this less suggestive.

Of course, today we have a very different point of view from the people who lived in these mountains in the past: today we go back to the mountains to seek peace, to seek ourselves and that intimate relationship with nature that is impossible to establish in the cities and in the plains. But the people who lived and inhabited these mountains in the first person had a very different relationship with these environments: for the ancient Celts the woods, mountains, rivers and all nature itself was a divine entity, which nourished , protected and marked the human time and its existence according to seasonal rhythms. For other inhabitants such as the Romans, the Lombards and others later, these places were territories to be exploited, to be stripped, for all they could offer economically and politically: people, lands, wood, chestnuts, energy (from water like the mills), building stone and mineral deposits and so on. In more recent times, with the increase in material expectations of life, when these territories could no longer support so many people with complicated and perhaps excessive needs like ours, unable to offer answers to such a load of requests, they began to become hostile territories, people perceived the nature as asungrateful, the mounains as places of poverty, sadness and despair, hence the whole phenomenon of depopulation, abandonment, denying one's origins, in search of well-being and bourgeois and comfortable living, as citizens. In some ways it is still a widespread mentality.

Now that in our cities we are inundated with things, our every desire seems to find satisfaction, our bellies regurgitate like boiling lava, now that we are bombarded with all kinds of information, words, sounds, lights, colors, and we are surrounded by thousands of other human beings deaf and blind to each other, now that in all this chaos we often find ourselves alone clinging to our despair, like shipwrecked men swimming in a sea of ​​as many men equally adrift, in search of who knows which beach where to shipwreck , now that our life is reduced to all this, someone perhaps begins to understand, to doubt, to question themselves, to retrace their steps timidly, to those places abandoned out of desperation, and where today perhaps we return for the same reason, out of desperation , for try to travel by other roads, other paths, but they cannot only be paths of earth and stones, they must also be paths of spirit and heart, after perhaps having understood that are not the things or their quantities that give meaning to our existences.

Maybe we should always keep this in mind when we come to these enchanted places for an excursion, a trekking or a simple outing: they are places that deserve deep respect, and not so much because this rare flower grows here or the protected bird nests, no, not for this, but because these are places where many people, people like us, have lived, have fought wars, have found death and given their lives, have lost and found hope, have dreamed, prayed, found material and spiritual refuge, they worked, sweated hard, they laboriously built, destroyed and rebuilt, they suffered, hated and loved. These are places steeped in life lived, where every stone, every tree, every path would have a thousand things to tell, and they are all true stories, dramatically true, also and above all for this reason the mountain deserves respect: the mountain is not an amusement park, and nature is not a toy for grown-up children !

I do not share the point of view of those who consider the mountains only as a leisure, amusement park, sport challenge or challenge with oneself. For me the mountains, but also the river, the forest and nature in general are a "serious" thing, sacred and severe. Of course in the mountains you can laugh and joke, happiness is always welcome, but in truth I perceive something deeper, I perceive these places as an extension of myself: the forest is a cathedral without walls, the stars are the vault: its an environment where the divine live, as for the ancient Celts each tree is a column, each stone an altar, each star a God, places that therefore deserve the right respect, profanation would be sacrilegious, like poisoning or selling off one's soul: leads nowhere ! The divine and the mystical dwell inside and outside of us, and there are places where the boundary between this inside and this outside becomes blurred, impalpable, imperceptible, the landscape itself can be considered as a dimension of our spirit, its profanation is a profanation of ourselves, a self-harm that leads only to perdition, that is to lose ourselves, to lose contact with ourselves and with our roots, and excuse the terms perhaps a bit too much like a "preacher", but it is only to convey the idea, I do not preach anything for charity, but these are things that I feel, that I live on my skin.

Many consider trekking a sport, for me it is not a sport, absolutely, all those characteristics that are typical of a sporting activity are missing: sport presupposes a challenge, a competition, against someone or against oneself, sport presupposes that there both a loser and a winner: I do not go to the mountains to challenge anyone or anything, neither to win or to lose, for me it is an activity more similar to meditation and contemplation, sometimes it is almost a small initiatory journey: one abandons civilization and its din, to go deeper and deeper into the almost palpable silence, one moves in an environment where time and space are dilated, measured with the rhythm of one's own steps and breath, and the the only strength to gain ground is that released from our legs, every step is a fatigue, but it is a satisfying effort, very different from the fatigue that haunts us in everyday life, and weariness that come in the evening has the taste of joy ! With this effort we have enriched our soul with new sensations, we have regenerated and nourished ourselves, nourished by beauty and humility, confronting ourselves with an environment where we are not masters, as we would like to believe: no, in the mountains we are only guests, as in the life, and for this we only have to thanks for be part of this magic.

Nature and mountains are for me like the descaler for the washing machine: they descale my brain from the harmful deposits of everyday life. I always come back renewed from my excursions, renewed and reinvigorated in enthusiasm, conversely staying away from the woods, the mountains and the rocks, the greyness intoxicates and depresses me !


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In the header: an image of Molinatico Mount, near Borgo Val di Taro