Mario Rigoni Stern

A gift of God

The boundaries of nature have no nets, walls, barriers, fences, guards or laws, if not those eventualities that nature herself puts at her unquestionable defense. So, at least with regards to environmental geography, one should never talk about borders, but of continuity, intercropping, natural and historical correlations of adjacent territories.

Since the earliest times of human presence in the mountains, most communications were done from the steps of the ridges to the valley floor. […] A clear example to all, a still legible document, is that of the Maritime Alps where marks left by humans over the millennia are still alive: the paths of ancient hunters, the petroglyphs in the Valley of Wonders, through the streets of the transhuman shepherds, those of the Romans, medieval and modern settlements. And again, place names, language, customs, myths, readings, traditions. And Nature!

It is here, where the Alps and the Mediterranean meet and mingle, and blend together to create something unique, where the foundations of the mountains are bordered with hot foam and the mountains of permanent snow. The eye of the naturalist could spot an impressive variety of plant species, a natural botanical garden, perhaps the richest in Europe with rare endemic species.

It can be observed, without difficulty, chamois and ibex, marmots and eagles and vultures in the abyss of the sky, enjoying the murmur of water and wind forgetting the daily trials, which must remain “outside”, away from these places and also from us. Argentera-Mercantour straddles Italy and France and the protected areas of the Maritime Alps and Ligurian have no boundaries between them, are a site of Europe, a gift of God to the men to 2000 to be kept and handed down.

From: Montagne senza frontiere, L’Arciere, 1995.

Mario Rigoni Stern

Writer, born in Asiago in 1921. During the Second World War took part in the invasion of Russia. This experience was chronicled in Il sergente nella neve (1953), which is considered the highest testimony of poetic memoirs of the Italian war. It was in the military that he came to know and frequent the Western Alps. In addition to numerous works related to the war period, Rigoni Stern is the author of short stories and novels set mostly on the Asiago plateau.

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