HOW IT BEGAN
We met Andrea Mori in September 2021, when we invited him to share his vision of mountain life and exploration with us at theAdventure Outdoor Fest in San Marcello Pistoiese in Tuscany, as part of the “Nature Lab” talk on sustainable tourism that I was moderating. We realised immediately that we had lots in common.
When Andrea told us about the Tessere il Valico project, which he brought to Umbria in 2021 together with Valentina Fanoni, I immediately fell in love with the idea. The project focuses on conserving and giving value to the collective memory of the mountain people, through collecting and sharing their stories via ‘street theatre’ performances in the local villages.
Andrea told us that the people from the village – suspicious at first – began to watch and follow their itinerant narratives, contributing to the open-air performances that recounted the stories of their lives and the valley.
Via the project, this area of Umbria experienced a regeneration and renewed enhancement of its culture, thanks to the sharing of the life experiences and personal histories of its people.
With the ECOlab project we had been thinking for some time about initiatives in the Lima Valley in Tuscany, our homeland, to connect the villages in the valley via a circular trekking route. The area suffers from the same fate as many other mountain communities – abandonment, migration to towns and cities and internal rivalry. When Andrea and I met we were thinking along the same lines – to bring Tessere il Valico to the Lima Valley, helping toovercome historic barriers which have prevented the inhabitants of the valley from enjoying the dignity that their way of life deserves.
CREATING THE PROJECT
Creating this project has been a journey of friendship, listening, nature, art and most of all love for the mountains in all its forms.
With support and financial assistance from Canyon Park, technical consultancy from ECOlab and the backing of the Tuscany Region, after a phase of planning and site visits, in June 2022 we finally launched Tessere il Valico: Val di Lima. Theproject saw Andrea Mori and Valentina Fanoni collecting and recounting the stories of the mountain’s inhabitants via 5 performances of itinerant theatre, along a walking route which included several of the villages in the Lima Valley in the area of Bagni di Lucca, Tuscany.
Andrea and Valentina walked for ten days, accompanied by an important third member of the mini team, an artist in his own right: the director Cesare Baccheschi. Cesare’s role was to record the whole event with the trained eye of a documentary film maker, with the aim of creating a future documentary from the material. The project will live on beyond the ten-days of theatrical performance when it is screened across Italy.
EXCITEMENT AND ANTICIPATION
There were many magical moments during the initiative: Cesare being chased by the shepherd’s dogs, the mutual removal of ticks (which sounds worse than it is), huge meals at local trattorias, folk dances, stories around the campfire and under the stars. But by far the most emotional moments were seeing the eyes of the inhabitants of the valley filled with tears, telling stories of the mountain -genuine,true stories, often of hardship, that belonged to everyone there.
These stories seem to belong to another time, but they actually recount a more recent history, when the villages were bustling with children, women and elderly folk. Even where money was in short supply, there was a love for the land and a sense of community.
The sacrifices made to sustain mountain life lived side by side with a strong local wisdom and sense of place. When we asked people if they were sad for the loss of those times, the answer was almost always: Si.
The success of the Tessere il Valico project and the vitality of some of the places we visited in the initiatives in Tuscany and Umbria show that these areas still have the energy to regenerate and create the necessary conditions for a sustainable repopulation of the mountains.
Our idea is to extend this work, through ECOlab and the expertise of Andrea, Valentina and Cesare. We want to contribute to protecting and enhancing the collective memory, bringing the Tessere il Valico project to other areas of Italy. We’re sure that over time, using the narrative theatre experience and the format of documentary film, we can help to express the complex reality of mountain life and contribute to regenerating these unique areas.
See you at the screening! Stay tuned!
— Arch. Jacopo Bardi, ECOlab and CamminoLento project curator