Let’s talk about death. While death is a regular feature in our contemporary cultural landscape, it is always mediated by someone, whether the editor of a newspaper or the user of social media, who discerns deaths worth to be mentioned from deaths that are not. And with death as information and spectacle, the smaller the world becomes, the farther death appears. On the other hand, death is removed from the physical landscape, confined into graveyards. Best case scenario, dead people becomes dead monuments, invisible in broad daylight. Monuments to the fallen. In 1970, Robert Filliou proposed that the countries that considered to engage in war with each other, should have exchanged their respective monuments to the fallen as a preventive measure. As far as I know, no such exchange ever happened. What a shame.
Recently my cat was run over by a car. Margot! We loved her very much! We improvised a burial ceremony in the middle of the night, dug a hole in our garden and used a nice slab of Norwegian pink marble we happened to have at home, as thumb stone.
My grandmother died in a car accident. She was 85 years old. Nonna Toni! We loved her very much! Five years before passing away, she decided to realise her dream to live in a baita, a traditional alpine hut. She sold her apartment and bought a cabin in the Dolomites. At that time, that valley was already familiar to us. Every year she would take us trekking, eating the sandwiches she would cut with her Swiss pocket knife, dipping our feet into the algid creek, and sometimes eating berries topped with wiped cream at the Micheluzzi, another hut which has been functioning as an inn for several years, and that had fossilised organisms and shells on the stones used for its outside walls. Indeed, fossils should be used in architecture, rather than kept in museums. Anyway, last time I went there, some of the largest fossils had been stolen, removed with hammer and chisel.
The valley is only accessible by foot, bike or, if you are granted a special authorisation, with a four-wheel drive vehicle. In order to go grocery shopping, my grandmother had bought a quad bike. A super sprint grandmother. Everybody knew her as the old woman that lived alone in that cabin, the old woman that walked faster and longer than anybody else. She used to wake up at dawn, do sit-ups, have breakfast and go trekking in the spring and summer, picking mushrooms in the fall and skiing in the winter. When she died, some locals put up a memorial stone. Her cabin is my favourite place of all, but unfortunately, my aunts and uncles want to sell it. Some need the money, others would prefer a more comfortable situation. After she passed away, I spent two weeks in this place, looking into her belongings, using her tableware, reading the poems she wrote, going for walks and showing the place to people interested in purchasing the property. As of today, the cabin is not yet sold. I hope it never will. I hope I’ll get the chance to go back there anytime soon.
In the basement, there is a room anyone can access, through a door above which the word bivacco has been painted. This bivouac room is equipped with a bed, a wood-burning stove, a gas cylinder, and canned food. If you are lost or find ourself in the middle of a storm, please don’t hesitate to take shelter there, I promise you won’t starve nor freeze to death.