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Gole del Melfa: Il Tracciolino (The Little Track)

Some places belong to the soul of the people who live there.

They are part of their real-life and of their imagination, shape their actions and sometimes are shaped by them.

Gole del Melfa (Melfa Gorges) in the stories of a guy that grew up around here.


Gole del Melfa
Gole del Melfa da Santopadre
ar. Adriano Ruzza

Those, like me, who live here, are not used to say the name  “Gole del Fiume Melfa” (“Gorges of the Melfa River”).

This Place has many other weird nicknames in our guttural dialect, that are familiar to us from early childhood.
Every nephew, child or relative of one of the citizens of the little towns overlooking the Gorges of the Melfa River listened, at least once in life,  stories about who, in this narrow valley, hunted the boar, or, during the War, driven by extreme necessities, went there to find some clothes or some shoes near the dead bodies of the retreating Germans.

Gole del Melfa
Gole del Melfa
ar. Adriano Ruzza

So, after the usual “I remember once…” we hear about the “Tracciolino” (“Little Track”), o “Dènt camp dènt” ("Into the fields"), or “atterra alla Mel’fà” ("the Melfa banks"), many names for thousands of stories all set in this almost mystic place, where the holm oak and oak woods are interspersed with high overhanging rocky pillars or a reddish caves, where, in more or less ancient times, we would have found a quiet hermit or a German machine gun.

The route, called Il Tracciolino (Little Track) by us native, in the past was infested with the gang of robbers commanded by Frà Diavolo (Brother Devil) was built by order of the Bourbons, and sinuously crosses the narrow valley, strictly following the river Melfa. Its name "Tracciolino" (little track) came from the track route left by the livestock in transhumance, or by the mules of the freight haulers going from the Valley of the river Liri to the valley of the Comino.

Nowadays the territory of the Melfa Gorges, while ambiguously retaining its strategic function of artery connecting, its a real nature's monument, crossed by the St. Benedict path, where it is not uncommon to come across some thirsty wayfarer with a foreign voice, and where, if you have the passion and especially the patience of "Tommasino", you can even tell about seeing Ulisse and Penelope flying.

Then I go on a trip with a memory, and I think back to when, as a child, passing with the car along the "Tracciolino" (Little track), I glimpsed the rocking silhouette of some Superman looking like a colorful spider on a nearly invisible tightrope.

Gole del Melfa
Gole del Melfa Andrea Ruzza su La Capra Zoppa ext.
ar. Adriano Ruzza

But life writes unexpected screenplays, and I got bit by the same spider, less colorful, but equally venomous, and, much later, I found myself grasping crimps or hanging from a stalagmite of that cave that I feared as a child.

Thus my love for that place and my passion for the climbing discipline fused together, but my mind always come back the way I saw this place as a child, and I think how I'm blessed to be able to see the places of my childhood from a different, vertical perspective...

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