“I saw those mortal eyes quickly unfold and shine and then fade and die one after the other three souls unparalleled: the most beautiful and the most ardent and the most wretched who ever appeared in the ultimate descendents of an imperious race. In the places where their desolation, their grace and their pride moved every day, I caught clear and terrible thoughts that the ancient ruins of illustrious cities had never given me”.
Gabriele D’Annunzio, Le Vergini delle Rocce (1895)
So Gabriele D’Annunzio abandoned, driven by the postillion supermanism of the Germans, and in particular by the winged words of the great Friedrich Nietzsche, the very figure of an aesthete devoted exclusively to the search of beauty as an end in itself. a path of absolute and timeless magnificence, heroic, violent, epic and disdainful in a total and totalizing gesture. The vision of a world itself able to overcome, with a single powerful leap, the levelling uniformity of the egalitarian thought of modern democracies and the existential resentment of a rising materialist bourgeoisie broke through. Individualism and the sense of one’s individual quality: the only antidotes, along with the physics and metaphysics of love, able to ride the tiger of modernity.
These were my thoughts when, with my heart in my throat and the taste of blood in my mouth, I arrived at the Chiesetta di Santa Barbara, after three kilometres of desperate steep climbing on the western shore overlooking the aristocratic Riva del Garda. Dedicated in fact to the patron saint of miners, this chapel was built during the construction work for the hydroelectric power station and aqueducts (from around 1925) – which from Lake Ledro were forced to overhang Lake Garda.
Guess who gave the first lucky strike, the mystic blow of the axe, to free the impetuous waters in their whirling and frantic journey downstream? Who made the mine shine, who broke the last diaphragm of rock allowing the waters to course along the 960 metres of reinforced pipes on Monte Rocchetta? He himself, the seer, Gabriele D’Annunzio, on March 18, 1928.
We must never forget the spiritual and symbolic value of our mountains –which instil spirit and inspire us to take the noblest path, the highest way. “Many metres above the sea, many more above humanity”, wrote Nietzsche from the alpine refuge of Sils Maria which inspired Thus Spake Zarathustra; nature becomes an allegory for the human condition and, in a gesture of extreme sacrifice becomes Promethean, i.e. teaches humanity its own destiny: to rise above itself. Amor fati. The unconditional acceptance of fate. That only the indomitable force of love, like that of water, can lead to completion.