On an autumn afternoon, after the annual olive harvest, my daughter Maria and I went to Zagarolo, a town we had always known only by the train stop, where a group of wonderful people had organized a two-day “resilience” at Palazzo Rospigliosi. (I must admit that our decision to go derived from a certain attraction to the Toy Museum housed in a wing of the magnificent palace)
The event arose from social networks: mutual friends who practice sustainability, digital friendship with someone who makes witty comments to a post, some messages and event information.
Francesco Neri, one of the supporters who I have known from our common technical training, has a desire to use his life to do something harmonic in the philosophical sense of the term.
The countryside of Zagarolo seems charming, perched on a small hill like many of the centers in the area of the Castelli Romani. Born around a palace of one of the many papal families, with an entranceway that over time has become the main street of the town with the shops on either side. The palace and the town live in symbiosis and their fates are inevitably intertwined though no longer on a level of subjection. We expect to meet Alberto Sordi dressed as Marchese del Grillo with his easygoing air commenting on the role of small people in the world, “because I am me and you are nothing”.
Palazzo Rospigliosi is gorgeous, newly restored and is intended for civic uses. From the way it is described in official documents it seems to have become a common good of the city. It amazed me the love that transpires from such cold descriptions in the brochures and I remember the song by Paolo Conte on the texts of a divorce lawyer “these are words of love written on a typewriter, and it feels good to my heart..”
We enter and we find a large number of people aged between 30 and 40 who have “reinvented” their lives. Many of them have studied and have been surprised by a crisis in their planned route. They could leave the country, could follow the parade of politicians in office or pander to television messages but have chosen love. They started to think that if this world is so unbalanced sooner or later it will lead to a collapse and it will have to start again. How? In a harmonious and sustainable way .
This is the resilience, a phenomenon known to those who study physics as the ability of a material to absorb a change and adapt in an original way.
Festival of Resilience
We arrive in the courtyard immediately go up to the first floor starting to chat. Everyone seemed to be smiling and happy with what they were doing. On the one hand I wanted to know their stories for our Energitismo blog, and on the other to show Maria that there are many wonderful people who are not on the international stage or in glossy magazines, but they still deserve to be heard. And maybe they can give us the courage to make our own choices that seemed so difficult.
Natascia Di Mora who works with iron and collaborates with ceramic artists of pottery making funny skirts, plans to leave the capital and to come and live in the province, on a more human scale.
Sofia Modena, who has a weaving workshop of handmade textiles, lives in Zagarolo and has developed elaborate textiles using only natural fibers. I want to touch all her creations. Her loom is from Treviso and she is interested in restarting the bachicultura Lazio planting mulberry trees. And here everything is linked to beautifully to what Daniela and Gianpiero Zonta have restarted in Veneto with the revival of the Silk Way and the support for the CREATE of Padua.
“Crafts and scientific knowledge are the perfect union, the future of our planet.”
A young man intent on creating a brooch with brass and copper invites us to enter his world. Cristian Romei lives in Rocca di Papa and for 12 years he has been proud to be a blacksmith on the border between art and craft. His smile bewitches and you cannot help but listen to stories of all his experiments with different materials. He combines wrought iron and PVC worked and shapes by heating with the flame: it seems an unlikely combination but the result is amazing.
Yet perhaps Daniele Dell’Orco most impressed my daughter, and not only for the delicious chocolate that he produces “cold” in the semi-unknown village of Labico. We stop to sample all the different types of chocolate that he produces and, in a voice hoarse from too many words spoken in recent days, is happy to explain what he does and to talk about it.
Daniele became a vegetarian at the age of 7 years after seeing an animal mistreated. At 17 he became vegan. He has a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree in the Netherlands and his Doctorate in Cultural Anthropology still awaits the thesis. Now he has opened a small chocolate business and formed an association of forty workers like him who attend fairs and events where they know they can be appreciated.
We excuse ourselves to go to taste a pastry baked from vegan food in Olevano, and meanwhile the chocolatier begins again to tell the story of the criollo cocoa (the same name of the breed of horses) and how you exalt its taste properties with the low temperature preparation. So we do not lose … its chocolate is too good and has many stories to tell to our blog.
The economic crisis seems to be allowing a lot of opportunities to surface and many fine people to emerge who should become an example and a beacon to guide the younger generations.
We departed at night fall happy to have met special people, happy that the town of Zagarolo uses Palazzo Rospigliosi to promote the wonderful people and has created a Sunday market of local organic products and perhaps I look forward to our fresh olive oil in the morning. In the end, life is beautiful for those who seek to see it.