Mapping. Sile river, stories of water

The Sile is rather unusual, it is a river that “rises” from the depths of the ground with pools of limpid and vital water, a network of springs, called “Fontanassi”.


You can get to know the Sile in two ways: experiencing its water, in a canoe or small boats, on foot or by bicycle. For our activities we have started to map two paths, (virtual tours available at the bottom of the page) accessible for the disabled for most of their itinerary. As a consequence we have also started to explore the natural environment  surrounding  us. The first path, where the Sile is originated, or rather “rising”, is “La Porta dell’Acqua near  the Gran Bosco dei Fontanassi. It is less frequented than the second one the “Burci cemetery” but, on the other hand, less crowded means much more relaxing.

Undoubtedly the Burci are fascinating, the remains that emerge on the surface of water, evidence of a “slow” era that no longer exists, the accessibility of the path, attract many people. Unfortunately (or luckily, depending on the points of view) on Sundays and in summer it looks like a city central area. It took ages to map the path,  if you want to take your time and relax it is better in winter.

Bosco dei Fontanassi – Accessible Path
Burci Cemetery


In summer nature is lush, very green and you can find a great variety of flowers. I thought about it for a moment and tried to answer the question “why do I come here and not somewhere else?” What can I find so particular worth telling?” The answer came to me from the humidity of the place. Yes, just the humidity of the Pianura Padana,  so often depressing, with its skies never, or rarely, completely blue.

It was surreal to find out that, as  in the last period I have frequented other places, I have missed the humidity (normally detested) that makes you feel the physical sensation of “passing through” a place as if you were swimming metaphorically through an impalpable water. Water that you feel  and leaves you a little breathless. In summer the green that surrounds you is greener than green but, in my opinion,  you can fully understand this environment of land and water especially in autumn and winter. With the fog...

Fog along the Sile


Try to imagine the autumn fog, the shape of the places that fade, the sounds are not clear but muffled. Humidity is the main attraction, again and more strongly, the sensation of swimming in and through the place. Time is suspended, you cannot get the feeling of time because you cannot see the sky. Yet  the noise of water in the background, some nutria that dives, the beating of the swans’ wings define the contours of the place.

Often with the mapping activities, we have been accused of digitizing everything and making people “walk around” without having to leave the sofa. Nothing could be more untrue. You can see the place on a screen, you can even follow a path, but you cannot feel it. Can you “swim” in the humidity? The only image of a place does not define its complex and changeable reality. Experiencing by feeling the reality of a place is the key word.

Panta rei, everything flows … reality is a continuous becoming


Mapping: Moby Dick in the woods

We were taking a short walk and taking pictures for the first phase of our project: mapping paths accessible for everyone. All of a sudden there it was! Better still, a shape that reminded me of him: Moby Dick, the white whale.

Mapping our world
Moby Dick in the woods

It was indeed a bit amazing to see such a shape along a path for pedestrians and it was amazing to find out a boat along a lonely track. Actually it shouldn’t be so strange, we were walking along a path close to Sile river, but it was unexpected.

mapping our world

By mapping our world we have found so many unexpected things in the past months. Unexpected relationships between Nature and human beings. What can you see in this picture? Look at it carefully, we have been told that most people see “ivy”

What is it? Plastic trying to destroy natural environment or Nature claiming for its place back? For us the second one. What is our relationship with Nature, is it a Mother or a Stepmother? Honestly we do not have any answer, it is a contrasting and contrasted relationship and as long as we proceed with our activities we have more questions than answers

In the areas of earthquake (Central Italy) where we have seen the effects of destruction it could be easy to say “Nature as stepmother” but it is not so obvious, Nature in that area is so beautiful and imposing that the only possible way for reconstruction is a new environment friendly pact between humans and Mother Nature.

We have been successful so far in our attempt of integrating culture and environmental education, culture and technology for mapping our world, driving, walking for finding out the “unexpected”.  However, the most successful aspect is our changing perspective in the way we see the world. We keep on mapping and telling stories, stay tuned.

For more details on “Nature”: Enchanted Nature. Dialogo tra arte e scienza. Esempi di umana resilienza

For more details on mapping: Da Mountain View ai monti italiani

I Quaderni will be translated into English shortly

For more details on Enchanted Nature. Pictures by Carla Bordini Bellandi   

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