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To the valleys and its people

This short text by Federico Galvani is contained in the photographic book Ramonika, by Valentina Iaccarino and Pietro Peressutti, which won the Bastianelli prize as a self-produced work in 2023. The images in the book proceed with a cadenced rhythm and are interspersed with the text, a metaphor for the breath of the accordion, precisely Ramonika in the Benecjan dialect.

The Natisone valleys are a ridged strip of land connecting eastern Friuli Venezia Giulia with Slovenia. They are borderlands and their isolation resonates with nature as a dissonant musical expression, unchanging but yearning to be reclaimed. The people who still inhabit these valleys share a sense of belonging that is often intimate and unexpressed. Histories, cultures and traditions differ from place to place.

All seems to flow far away and return in the shape of people, animals, houses and landscapes… like the opening and closing of a ramonika (accordion in the Benecjano dialect). Salamanders and deer populate the streams and hidden caves, the woods and orchards. Among the tall grass and brambles with thorns scratching the lime trees, there are still creatures with twisted feet that can teach ancient crafts to men and women. They have been silent for a long time. No one knows since when.

Those creatures were silent when the Austrians marched over the mountains towards distant rivers with Italian names and returned with muddied boots along the same roads – but with the livid grins of defeat.

They were silent when blood was spilt under the chestnut trees by men like them but in other uniforms; men who planted their own ideas like stakes of steel to mark a boundary.

Those creatures kept their silence when wagon wheels rumbled along steep gravel mule tracks carrying people far away; people that were never seen again. They were silent for a long time, but some say they are still there.

They speak in a remote Slovenian, a language that some refuse to call by its true name, but a language that holds the pains of those who passed on their way to the four corners of the earth. A language as delicate as the stone, to which few would know how to respond. Some say that it will be them who will again teach all that has been lost, when the remnants of modern life with their broken promises finally leave that land.

Then they will put man back into nature’s rude embrace. But this will, or might, happen in another tomorrow. For now these people, the so-called ‘Krivapete’ with their twisted feet, are silent. Like the other people of these valleys, they hide and again wait… for something to happen.

Valentina Iaccarino is an italian photographers. Check her Bio.
Pietro Peressutti is an italian photographer. Check his Bio.

Federico Galvani is a poly-instrumentalist italian musician, living in the Natisone valleys, once leader of the band Arbe Garbe. Today he’s a teacher altough continues to compose.

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