Christmas: water, earth and air

Christmas, water, earth and air. Such a strange title to present the Christmas Markets in Zero Branco, not far from Treviso. Let’s try to make a little order (that’s what I usually say, since my starting point is always  chaos) and give meaning to these words.













Christmas: this is clear. I am talking about December 15 and 16 markets. Less clear (presumably completely obscure) the three natural elements.

Our story begins at the end of 2016, December to be precise, just over a month from the earthquake affecting Central Italy. Since that December we have been travelling a lot, our last “landing” was Bolognola, in the province of Macerata, a few months ago.



Bolognola is very small, about 150 inhabitants. It is the smallest and highest municipality in the Marche region. Although tiny, Bolognola is divided into three groups: Villa da Capo, Villa di Mezzo, Villa da Piedi. We could call Bolognola a land of water because of  the sources  of the Fiastrone and the waterfall of the Acquasanta. Water is important for Zero Branco too. Here in the plain (Zero Branco is located in the Po Valley) the small town is  bathed by the river Zero, a spring-fed river, and by the Vernise. The presence of water has been very important since the Middle Ages for the construction of mills, some of which remained in operation until the 60s. The first element of commonality, water, has been therefore identified. I almost forgot…. Bolognola is coming to Zero Branco for the Christmas Markets!


















At Zero Branco I have found a book “Stories of land and water“. The link with the land/earth for small businesses is very strong, just mention the Radicchio Tardivo that makes clearly understand  the union between earth and water. The same link between the inhabitants and their land can be found in Bolognola. A land a bit ‘treacherous”, mother nature and stepmother at the same time, which in October 2016 attested its dominance over the human being. A land that also knows how to give a lot because of its beauty.



Land in which the last element stands out, air or better still wind, a predominant characteristic of Bolognola and above all of Pintura di Bolognola. From the stories of the inhabitants, who are accustomed to gusts that have reached 200km / h, we have learned of the strong wind that blew and of the extreme difficulty of preparing the emergency structures after the earthquake.














All the elements of our story are  here now. The Proloco di Bolognola, with their typical products, will be a guest at the Markets of Zero Branco. But this will not be enough to tell the whole story, or rather the stories, of two years spent between Marche and Umbria. And then, let’s go with photos, videos, virtual reality. There will be much to see and hear as well as to taste. We will obviously not be alone but together with other associations of Zero Branco, waiting together for Santa Claus and his helper 


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

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