Folco Quilici

A Magical World

At the southern end of the Alps is perhaps the most famous peak in the entire area. That of Monte Bego. Its summit overlooks the Valley of Wonders. Its water (glaciers turned into small lakes), and many rocks are sacred places. Preserved here is, in fact, the treasure of over 30,000 petroglyphs. Because this mountain area was the heart of the prehistoric Ligurian people, there is a sacred value of every stone, spread throughout the current borders.

Faced with stones for worship is the subject of the prehistoric spell. The magical values can be sensed. It is the suggestion of the places and the symbols, the sun, the bull, an ox and water.

Water is rich in the Valley of Wonders, where the graffiti is considered by some scholars as only crude forms of expression by pastors forced into solitude. Today, however, there is a different, opposing interpretation. It is certain that on the shores of these waters, near the springs and temporary rock shelters, rested not just wander shepherds, but pilgrims as well. Farmers and ranchers from the valley below would come, camp and would carve their symbol, a ploughed field, a protective and vigilant bull.

These graffiti symbols are all invocations to the deity hidden in Monte Bego (Bekkos was the god of ancient Liguria). Whomever made a great effort to come to the mountain, to God, and united his prayer with that of a sorcerer, who is repeatedly represented in graffiti, could plead for help in fertility and good fortune.

[…] Reaching the top of the rocks meant abandoning the real world, entering into one of unknown magic. Coming to a point where the sun was perhaps closer, where one could imagine that the moon could change night into day. Leaving the Valley of Wonders, we recall the poet Ito Ruscigni, who wrote:

Who wants to understand
scrambles on the Mountain
And in a ravine
throw the book
I will browse the wind
The gentle breeze, laden with pungent scents of these valleys. Where the roots of the Maritime Alps plunge into another element without measure: the waters of the Mediterranean.

Folco Quilici

Born in Ferrara in 1930, traveller and documentary filmmakes, forerunner of filming underwater, created a genre between the exotic and the ethnographic. In films like Il dio sotto la pelle (1974, con C. A. Pinelli), he denounced the environmental damage associated with the looting of nature. Among his productions, L'uomo europeo (1981, book and television series), must be mentioned, an investigation for which he collaborated with historian F. Braudel.


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