If there’s a small rule for keeping life at its daily pace and for avoiding it becoming a repetition of juxtaposed actions, it’s to always think about one’s actions: to never do anything automatically. If, then, there’s an important rule for how life could be transformed into the spark for a virtuous circle made up of other lives linked together, it’s to never stop recognising beauty. Responsibility and awareness make us human, and they make us better for it.
Do you know the Parable of the Talents? The one in which a man, before departing for a journey, entrusts to his three servants five, two and one talent respectively and upon his return learns that the first two have doubled their capital, whilst the third has buried his underground for fear of losing it? Here, to let a talent, ours or someone else’s, remain hidden is a real shame, an unforgivable waste. And this doesn’t only apply to people’s talents, but also to the knowledge that history passes onto us and to the territory that accommodates us.
Where I’m from there’s a small town called Camerano that sits upon a hill at the foot of Monte Conero. If you look at it from below you realise that it’s immersed in the Rosso Conero vineyards and you’ll immediately want to take advantage of the Mediterranean view, which from up there is stunning, boundless and varied. As you ascend you realise that Camerano is a lively town with plenty of commercial activity. It has solid roots in an ancient past (the first settlements even date back to the Neolithic period) but a fixed gaze on the future.
You will be asking yourselves what a small town in Le Marche has to do with the importance of recognising beauty and with the Parable of the Talents. Well, the fact is that Camerano is a little like the first of the parable’s three servants: if, in fact, in these few lines I’ve been talking about the Camerano which rise up beneath rays of sunshine, you should know that another one exists, underground, which doubles the value of the first and which, for a while now, has ceased to remain hidden. And just as one congregates around beautiful and truthful things, the link between the two sister cities, between these two opposite souls, is surprisingly simple: a flight of stairs.
The so-called Caves of Camerano constitute an enormous cultural–historical resource upon which, for years, historians did not point their magnifying glasses, on account of the scarcity of documentary sources and because of the misguided thought that they were simply sandstone caves or cellars. The citizens of Camerano, however, have always proudly recognised not only its cultural but also its symbolic value: all you need do is think about 1944, when the labyrinth of ornate tunnels and elegant rooms which make up the caves’ structure saved population’s lives, providing them, for twenty days, with a safe shelter from bombings during the Second World War.
Rooms, churches, quarries, cisterns and over a kilometre of tunnels: a path, extended over three floors and entirely excavated by man over the course of the centuries (it began over 2,000 years ago and developed simultaneously to the town above), provides testimony to a complex history in which trefoil crosses, crosses pattée and other strongly symbolic and ornamental motifs that embellish the hypogeum’s walls describe bellicose monks, masonic rites and other unexplored mysteries.
A passage towards these splendours was only opened in 1998, when the first cave was opened to the public. Ten years later, the underground talent of Camerano was finally brought to light and recognised in all its beauty: in June 2008, a path was inaugurated that today records an ever increasing interest, demonstrated by the incredible rise in the number of visitors and by the media attention and television broadcasts focused on the town. It’s futile to say that this happened because in Camerano they believed in it, the took a risk, they insisted, and it was predominantly the youth who did it, doubling the talent that history handed them instead of leaving it dead and buried, and becoming the driving force behind a virtuous and, of course, contagious cultural development.
The Paradise Trotter