The earth trembled

Vox Populi

The earth trembled and it will do so again. Every time Sigyn empties the filled bowl, the punitive serpent’s venom drips onto Loki’s frowning forehead, he writhes in pain, his spasms generating quakes. And over there, ploughing through the placid waves of the ocean of milk, every time a naga relaxes its exhausted coils under the weight of Vishnu, tremors unfurl throughout the cosmos. Whenever Poseidon becomes angry and beats his trident on the ground, every time the mighty canine Tuli stops in the Siberian steppes to scratch at his infernal fleas, when Kashima dozes off and loses control of the mischievous catfish Namazu, an earthquake is ready to shake even the bravest human soul.

In every mythology, the earthquake appears as a tear in the dense fabric of time. But it’s a reversible tear: a few moments of chaos and then Sigyn returns to collect the poison with her bowl, Tuli to drive the sled, Kashima to imprison Namazu under a large stone. In mythology, the tear is sewn into eternity. In the world of the human, however, nothing returns to the way it was before. In the world of the human, an earthquake is too big to pass without consequences; it accelerates the particles of history. Tears become chasms, so deep that a mere glance sparks in the mind the idea of an abyss.

It's been almost a year since we last said goodbye. A year in which our earth shook again, causing us to avert our eyes from the firmament to test the bond of the roots buried in the substrate. We returned with our eyes fixed on the ground, we saw disturbing gaps, and heard the echoes of years of human negligence. The rifts that have opened on the mountainsides remind us how many wounds have been inflicted by greedy hands. We have seen the people of these mountains bend under the blows of fear, displaced from already-deserted places, safe yet silenced by the noisy machines of reconstruction. Sigyn has not returned to her beloved Loki: in her place are ranks of fearless entrepreneurs, bureaucrats, restorers. Her salvation bowl has been replaced by a leaky umbrella of laws written elsewhere.

Yet hope is not dead. Gentian flowers have already sprung up on the edges of the abyss. Many have refused to be turned into museum objects; many have resisted and continue to do so. Many have shaken hands in solidarity to build bridges over the deafening voids.

And our Festival too will do its part. This year’s edition of Montelago will be an ode to all those who have decided to resist and above all be a reference point to muster the energy – still pulsating – to work together, because the spirit of our land will not be quelled. Because the earthquake will not turn into the last unhappy act of a process started long ago to reduce and progressively break down services in the hinterland, with a resulting forced push towards the coastal cities, major metropolitan centers, and identity-crushing vortices that engulf everything and everyone.

Montelago won’t stand for this. The mountain must continue to be a place of everyday life, and it’s from here that our Festival wants to restart: from the revival of the Apennine culture that for 15 years has constituted its essence, and the recovery of the identity of a territory that is wounded but has not yet surrendered.

And it is this Montelago, this enchanted city – framed by the surrounding peaks, without inhabitants or strangers, without walls and pillars of real or faux concrete, but made of solid roots embedded in sharing and harmony, and gossamer wings capable of indulging the power of nature – that is the perfect place to come home, to talk about the mountain, not as dangerous and destructive, but as a land of rebirth and possibility.

A place intertwined with perpetual crossroads of countless adventures, a ploughed field where over the years throngs of travelers with a thousand destinations have gathered, and which this year has decided to host the most authentic exposition of knowledge, tradition and values of all those actually affected by the earthquake.

We, as you well know, will never abandon these lands, nor do we want to feed the militant rebuilders and their impromptu ideas, we ... want to choose the rules of the game.

Only then can we one day reunite the two extremities of the stratum and rejoin the gash.

Only then can we return to live in Beauty.