Running through the lands of the river Liri – Marco Cipriani


The river Liri flows and goes; across valleys, towns and regions; its race is
sometimes slow, sometimes impetuous, as if it wanted to rebel against
something, I do not know who.
If it could hear or speak better, it would have some secrets to reveal, some
beautiful, some unspeakable, and if it could tell its own, I think it would
complain about its current state, as it is not in perfect health.
But it is there and continues to flow, framing a picture that not even the best
painter could paint more beautifully. Like the Liri and other athletes, I decided
to flow.
There are many who compete, someone does it for passion, someone for fun,
some for exploring new territories.

There are those who do it for the sake of
trying to win, but I believe that at the end in each of us will remain the emotion
and awareness that it is flowing with the river Liri – ‘Scorrendo con il Liri’,
crossing, as it does, towns and villages and enjoying the spectacle that the
surrounding landscape offers to our eyes.

I asked myself: – Why not? Also, this year I want to take part in the third edition
of the “Ecoultramarathon – Scrolling with the Liri, a race along a river”.
This is an event sponsored by CONI and UNESCO, which aims to enhance the
territory for tourism and its historical-cultural roots, as well as to raise
awareness of the environment, making them part of the preservation of our
territory and aware of the fact that Mother Nature has made available to us
water, earth, flora and fauna – but all this has not been given to us, but has only
been loaned to us so that we can benefit from it, without abusing it.

So here I am: it’s September 10 th , 2017; it’s a beautiful sunny day and I, like the
river Liri, together with the other runners, start from Cappadocia, at an altitude
of 1108 meters above sea level.

Here you find the hidden sources of the Liri, in this mountain village that in
winter is covered with a white blanket, leaving a striking fairytale view to the
eyes of the passer – by.

You breathe a fresh, crisp and impregnated air with the smell of dried grass,
daisies, violets, anemones, arnica and other varieties of flowers that surround
this environment.

The town is welcoming and full of fragrances and authentic flavours of good food,

made of typical and traditional dishes that know how to warm your heart even on the coldest days.

It is a destination for tourists who, like me, go there to relax during the summer to contemplate nature in a
tranquility that today is not for everyone.

It is also a crossing point for many pilgrims who cross it to reach the sanctuary
of the Holy Trinity, located at the foot of a rocky mountain that dominates it.

So, like the river, I continue my journey and arrive in Castellafiume, with its
hamlet, Pagliara, of just twenty-five inhabitants who are proud of their origins
and linked to their land, as beautiful as it is wild.
While I am immersed in uncontaminated nature and in my thoughts, every now
and then I am distracted by the pleasant ringing of bells on grazing cows.

Here and there, I see the dung of these animals, but it does not matter because
all this does not damage the beauty of the surrounding environment, indeed, is
part of it: in some of these villages live on sheep farming, livestock breeding, so
why wonder about this?

I keep running, but often I get distracted by the beauty of the territory, made of
small paths, woods with tall trees and meadows covered with wild flowers that
fill my nostrils with sweet perfumes.

Between the Simbruini mountains and the Valle Roveto, stands Capistrello, with its name a bit harsh but with an
enchanting landscape; the inhabitants are hospitable and greet me with their
typical Abruzzese dialect, marking it proudly and deliberately as if to underline
their belonging to this territory.
I am immediately aware of a work of railway engineering that does not disfigure
the environment, but completes it: it is a helical tunnel that crosses the town of
Capistrello: it has been carved into the rock following a spiral path that turns
towards the top of the mountain.
The river Liri runs and flows still; its waters are proud of belonging to this
marvelous land, but I, compared to it, have the advantage of being able to linger
and observe.

I reach Canistro, famous for its thermal baths and its mineral water, limpid and
precious treasure of this town, as well as the Chestnut Roscetta, IGP of the Valle
Roveto used during the popular festivals.

The Liri does not seem tired at all, though I start to feel a bit of fatigue, but I
cannot pay attention, the path is still long and much to be discovered. In less
than no time, here I am in Civitella Roveto, a flourishing town with a more
modern settlement rebuilt after the earthquake of 1915; the main attraction
here is the church of San Giovanni Battista with its sturdy medieval bell tower.

I continue my journey and through Civita D’Antino, a small village located 904
meters above sea level and surrounded by walls that stand there almost as if to
preserve the natural beauty typical of the ancient buildings that characterise it.

Unlike the river, I feel the need to cool off and, between one sip of water and
another, I arrive at the freshness that Morno, located in a green valley of woods
offers me for free. Its name is linked to the fascinating landscape of the Zompo
lo Schioppo reserve, which has as its attraction the superb natural waterfall of
about eighty meters that falls into the torrent below.

To complete the work of art we envisage the hermet church of Santa Maria del Pertuso or del Cauto,
immersed in the beech forest of the Reserve; this is about a thousand meters
above sea level and is set against the rock, forming one with it, almost like a cave.

Inside there are precious 13th century frescoes. What a wonderful place,
full of beauty, culture and traditions linked to the most famous festivals!

I think of the festival that Rendinara, a fraction of Morino, organizes to enhance its
pecorino still produced with ancient techniques. I have to run like the river, but,
while crossing this town, the sense of smell is exacerbated and I get lost in those
scents of home-made dishes following the most ancient recipes;

there are simple ingredients, those of peasant cooking that enrich the tables of tireless
workers, those who carry out heavy work between fields and woods, between
pastures and hills, exploiting, always with the utmost respect, what nature
kindly provides them.

Young people have to be sensitized to the respect of environmental resources,

as they represent the future and therefore must not miss the Ecomuseum of Morino that allows visitors to interact with the
surrounding environment and try to understand what can be done to protect it .

The Schioppo reserve can be explored on foot through a nature trail that offers
a pleasant coolness to visitors against the background roar of the water, a
natural concert of instruments that only mother nature can manage. Bella
Morino, so beautiful that even Ignazio Silone wanted to tell it in his novel
Fontamara and you are there, dear river Liri, to complete a spectacular picture.

Your waters in some places silently slip away and direct you, like me, to your
goal.

You start, unfortunately you too, to continue your run in a painful manner,
weighed down by the pollution that is shown in your waters, wounded and
disfigured by the hand of man who perhaps does not realize the evil that he
does to you or perhaps pretends not to know.

You cannot scream your pain, but who can observe and listen attentively, feels
your silent but at the same time excruciating lament, like that of someone
asking for help without being rescued.
Meanwhile, I came to San Vincenzo Valle Roveto, a village located at the bottom
of the valley; as I run through it, I immediately realize the mastery of men and
women who try to create wicker baskets or embroider the trousseau of future
brides, just as they once did.

From San Vincenzo to Balsorano the step is short and here we do not stop to
admire the fairytale castle, located in Balsorano Vecchio that majestic, in all its
beauty, guards the village below, giving it the charm that attracts many tourists
who come to visit it and to immortalize it?
What a land of Abruzzo, made of fine people, helpful and welcoming but above all

of people who do not bend in front of natural disasters, like the earthquakes
that yesterday, like today, put a strain on patience, endurance, attachment, the
self-esteem and the pride of being Abruzzo!

These people love their land and do not betray it and I can say with certainty,
since my mother is of Abruzzese origin, precisely from Morino and is proud and
stubborn just like her beloved Earth; my father, however, is from Lazio and
loves his beautiful town that boasts a wonderful waterfall like that of Isola del Liri.

Meanwhile, I continue to chase the river and so I arrive in Sora, therefore in
Lazio. Here the river fills the beauty of the town, crosses it and gives the
postcard scenes that add extra charm, especially when photographed with the
evening lights. Another characteristic element of the village is the ancient Volsci
castle which dominates the city from above and can only be reached on foot,
along narrow paths.

I like to remember that this town has been home to famous people such as
Cicero and Vittorio De Sica. I run and keep running, now close to my goal, which
will still see me winning, as a participant. Nothing is taken for granted from
everything I have seen and admired, everything is as it should be and mother
nature has done her job well.

The thundering waters, or Liri, are the soundtrack of many acronyms that tell
the story of communities, characters and landscapes.

Arriving in Isola del Liri, my town of origin, I realize how much its inhabitants are
proud of you, their river, as you have given them wealth and prosperity; many
were in fact the paper mills and wool mills that were able to exploit your
waters. You, with your part ramp and part falls, triggered those mechanisms
that allowed the operation of the machinery. What a great wealth you have
been, so much intrigue and bringing together of many French entrepreneurs
who wanted to do their utmost by introducing machinery and advanced
technologies imported from abroad!

After traveling 65 km, here we are at the finish line located in Via Cascata, in the
centre of the town. Here the Liri gives rise to a spectacular waterfall of twenty-
five meters, with its sparkling waters framing the Boncompagni-Viscogliosi
castle.
Enchantment and poetry for those who observe you, to exalt yourself is not
difficult; you are beautiful, both waterfall and wild beast do you show to the
passer-by who does not want any better background for his most beautiful
photo.

Wonderful, even if sometimes too impetuous, you let yourself fall with strength
and dynamism and we live in the noise of your waters. It is you, your waterfall,
that gives splendour to this town and that fills the soul of those who observe
you with pride and admiration.

I too, exhausted from running, I stop and lose myself in your show, protagonist
actress of a film without words. The roar of your waters tells your mood: you
are radiant on a spring day and listless in the late autumn, in any case you never
lose your charm and your beauty.

And now you, oh river, continue your journey, crossing territories just as
beautiful and rich in history, and throw your waters to the sea!
I thank you for the emotions you gave me; you are a source of pride for those
who have lived in your land and for those who live and can talk about you;

I only hope that man does not continue to hurt you and the territories that you carve
and furrow but that he manages to bring you back to the splendour that you
had in the pre-industrial period.