I am asked to describe the Marche and to possibily give voice to those everyday heroes who have made and are making this land great.
I try very hard to run into those heroes at every step, even the smallest one. There are many stories I’ve collected over the years that I will be able to let breathe here. And there are many others that have just been mentioned, along roads that still need to be known.
But then there are days when you’re only in search of yourself, and in order to rest – that’s right, to rest! – you rush out of bed early in the morning and choose to go West. Right there where the Apennine Mountains hide priceless gems.
For this writer resting in fact means above all to observe, to dig through the colors, to be silent in the middle of a path. So, in early March I go through Fiegni, a small outlying suburb hamlet of Fiastra near Macerata. Just above the artificial lake fed by the river Fiastrone, at the Ruffella viewpoint I put my boots on and start to go down towards one of the most enchanting parts of the Sibillini Mountains.
The sound of the rattling stones that mingles with the late-winter wind. The profile of the dam on the right side, caressed by the wavy water surface. The trees that become your roof. The slope that makes your knees bend, but not your desire. A Fiat Panda on the edge of it. The white and red signs that push you ahead, one intersection after another.
A half hour before you reach your destination, though, a greeting puts everything into question. It takes the form of a hero you would never have thought of shaking hands with.
“I am cutting wood for my house, for my fireplace, although the earthquake forced us to move away this year”. Mario, aged “way over 70,” lived in Fiegni before the October shocks damaged his house while he was out in the garden, when the plants began to sway back and forth and the gate pillars seemed to move. “I felt as if my feet were dancing and my upper body was shaking, something incredible! I now live in Polverina, where my daughter got married, and I’m coming back here because breathing mountain air always feels good.” Mario owns lots of land, and as many hectares of forest. He comes up here to carefully chop wood, always certain of one thing: “I go home at noon, change and have a nice lunch.”
He’s the same person who, after taking off his work glove, shaking hands with me and wiping a tear from his deep wrinkles, yells at me while I try to pick up the pace among the rocks and the shrubs: “Sometimes in life, you just have to rest “. That’s right, to rest, that feeling to which we both give the same meaning, without even knowing each other. The same feeling that makes you leave all your notes behind in the middle of the week and pushes you to stand before the fragile majesty of the Lame Rosse (“Red Blades”). The sounds change there, with the amount of gravel that sets the rhythm and the passing of time. The erosion (and the earthquake) transforms season after season this portion of land made of incisive colors, without changing its charm and unique magnetism. I stand there several minutes to catch the light reflections, as well as the stillness of the snow hidden inside. In the meantime, you can feel a continuous and harmonious rolling, almost like a chant.
On my way back, Mario is gone, as well as his white Panda, with which he travels to carry wood among these woods. However, the stacks of branches and logs are there, perfectly chopped and left behind to be loaded tomorrow. He’ll be leaving once again from Polverina. It’s like that pile it’s there to show that there is someone who is forced to bend every time, and then rise again. To bend over, only to rise again. Managing to find one’s own rest time through these movements.