12 Agosto 2017 In ARTICLES
ROADS AND BACKROADS
Wake up early, everyone is asleep. You prepare yourself with the things that might be needed, I would say
essential. Nice jumper, raincoat, knife, reflex and many images that go through your mind driving up the
numerous hairpin bends, 12 km from Cittanova to Zomaro (from the Greek Ozómenos – waterlogged), gate
of the Aspromonte, a land of bandits, hidden paths , rugged mountains and landscapes sung and praised by
Norman Douglas and Corrado Alvaro.
The name Aspromonte has two potential etymologies. In addition to the obvious meaning of “rugged
mountain” that describe the morphology, another possibility is the meaning of “Mont Blanc”, the Greek
word “aspro”, which means white.
Places of history, it is said that Spartacus has taken refuge and there, at Marco’s plans, defeated the Roman
legions of Marco Licinio Crasso. Past by many brigands including Nino Martino, Giuseppe Musolino, the
band Mittica, Bizarro And Giuseppe Pronestì, the brigand Sonnino all engaged in the fight against the
‘mercenaries’ of Garibaldi, he himself wounded in Gambarie, sent to conquer the south around the 1850s.
At 1000 meters high, 20 miles from the Tyrrhenian Sea, 30 miles from the Ionian Sea, someone would now
call it paradise.
You get to the top, it is still dark, it starts to rain
– frequent in these mountains. Clouds come from the sea as black walls burst with rain that collide with the
mountains and where they then stop –
The sun among the trees gives the first timid lights.
While driving you just think about the places you want to reach, the panoramas you want to shoot, but
what about the roads that take you to these places. This is the story I want to tell…
The Aspromonte National Park, in Calabria, South of Italy, is part of the southern Appennine mountain
range. It sits right in the middle of this narrow land which is Calabria. In many places, you have the rare
opportunity to stand right on top of a mountain seeing in front of you the western coast and behind you the
eastern one. Amazing views.
And to get to these places, of course you have to take the path to.
I have always been fascinating by the multitude of shape that a mountain road or backroad can have, the
colors, the color of the pavement, the surroundings… You don’t really need to go and find them, they are
everywhere, but most of the people just drive on them, they are just the way to reach places. Nobody never
wonder how they have been built, why they have been built, what was the original pavement or if they
always been like that.
Most of the roads are now just used by shepherds, forest guards and in some cases by woodsmen and wild
boars hunters, but a century ago they were the main arteries for trade of wood, coal, where everybody
walked them on foot to take their own goods to be sold in markets in the other coast. Much of them have
been paved due to the fact that until the 1980s they were the only access over the mountains, but don’t
expect to find a smooth way up as been a rugged mountain as the own name says, roads are often blocked
by landslides of mud or rocks, fallen trees, sometimes flooded by the rivers that come down from the top.
Once you leave the car, and begin to walk through pine or beech forests there are the backroads, mainly
now used by shepherds and mushrooms pickers, once were part of the net that linked the myriad of villages
perched in the mountains.
There are thousands of these paths, spread out all over the mountain, all different.
Most of these paths can
be easily found on the National park map, where all are well highlighted depending on the size, the length
and the importance. In fact the park, put a lot of efforts, thanks to the park’s guides, to keep them as clean
as possible where possible, to revive the signs that indicate the way from the beginning to the end. This is
very important actually, first for people who needs to learn to move around on these mountains, second for
tourism as these tracks are seen as an important chance to let everybody get to know the beauty of this
Is not really much of a challenge taking a good shot, you need just patience. The same road can look very
different from a season to another. You will have just to make up your mind on what you want to represent.
Some tracks are in the shades, where the light hardly get through, some right under the light of the sun.
During fall or winter, these backroads get quite magical with fog all over the place, the smell of mushrooms
and underwood; this is where I get connected with nature, a sort of inspiring path that leads to the “wow”
VISIT CALABRIA, this is my suggestion
The majority of landscape photographers concentrate their efforts on finding the beautiful place where to
take the “wow” picture, the one that would give you the appreciation of the public. Now I do not really
think this is the way to tell the stories of your own land or the places you visit.
At first, years ago, this was also my way of thinking, I used to take picture with wide lenses, just because I
thought that this was the right way, but in time everything has changed, the way of see things around me. I
started seeing instead of just looking.
I have also changed the main tools, using now tele lenses like 70-200 and also 150-600.
It may sounds a bit weird using a 150-600 for landscape pictures, but I can assure that the views sometimes
can be breathtaking.