Friday 2 December 2022

A sacred mountain for the Gran Paradiso

By Toni Farina

As usual, there was beautiful sunshine on Saturday 26 November in Turin. It's the norm in North West Italy these days. A worrying and mocking meteorological situation, thinking of the contemporary tragedy of Ischia.

From Monte dei Cappuccini the Alps made a fine show on the horizon, reinvigorated by a very timid sprinkle of snow. Standing out among all, next to the Mole, was the Granpa. An iconic and historic combination.

And it is truly singular that this Savoy city pays so little honor to its most intact and true mountains. Olympic Turin, Turin 2006, but the Gran Paradiso, the first Italian park, a centenary park, has no "citizenship" in Turin. The marginalized office down there in the suburbs basically tells us how unsacred nature is in this country.

And this is enough to give validity to the project that was presented on Saturday 26 at the Monte dei Cappuccini, at the National Mountain Museum: a "Sacred Mountain for the Gran Paradiso". Sacred to Nature and whose summit is left to the exclusive attendance of other living beings, animals, plants or minerals (even rocks have life). A symbol of respect for otherness and limits.

Participation beyond expectations. Counting 150 presences, people who knowingly exempted themselves from the Black Friday stroll of the streets of the center to listen to the speakers. Among these Ettore, a mountaineer from Introd, a trade in laying slates on the roofs and a runner with a passion, a "sky runner".

His for 25 years was the ascent and descent record from the top of Gran Paradiso (2 hours and 21 minutes, it's impressive just to think about it). “But now the time has come to also learn to look at them from under the mountains,” he said. And if he says so… Technical problems prevented remote listening (we will try to fix it) and hindered the online interventions of Daniela Padoan (writer, president of the Laudato Si' Association) and Giuseppe Cederna, mountaineer actor .

Due to logistical reasons Paolo Rumiz could not be present, who nevertheless gave his contribution with an appreciated article in La Repubblica. Present in the hall were Bruno Bassano, Director of the Gran Paradiso National Park, and Lorenzo Giacomino, young mayor of Ronco, a municipality in the Val Soana in whose territory Monveso di Forzo is located, the mountain chosen as "sacred" by the project promoter committee. Their presences are of particular significance, considering the (understandable) resistance that the project encounters at a local and institutional level.

But the technical problems themselves were finally the subject of reflection: the technique has partly betrayed, it has shown its limits. A message: thinking that relying on technology is enough to solve environmental problems is wishful thinking. Something else is also needed, and the aforementioned tragedy of Ischia (yet another tragedy in this beautiful but fragile Italy) really tells us a lot in this regard.

At the end, the obvious question of those present: what now? The answer is obvious, but challenging: we continue. With communication, with local sharing, discussion. And of course with signing petitions on the web page. At the onset of summer, then, the time will come for demonstrations up there in the mountains. It is the Mountain and all of Nature that are sacred.

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