Via degli Dei: when a sensory journey becomes an emotional journey


Like an alchemist, Nadia knows how to distill the emotions that the passageway, la Via degli Dei, intended. She has the capacity to write what others only know how to feel and experience. Being visually impaired has a lot to do with this. To be able to read and then translate, to be able to translate senses felt only with the heart. And yet she wonders whether it is possible to draw an emotional map that gives answers.

A week of trekking. 130 kilometers up and down between woods, meadows, narrow paths, dirt roads, soft grass and … mud. Muddy pathways. The mud that is earth, the same earth that sustains us and nourishes us, but shaped by water. Which bathes it, molds it, floods it. Water is the metaphor for emotions, with movements so strong that it animates, vivifies, but they can also – if out of control – upset us, which – perhaps – is not always a bad thing. And beyond those emotions? Where do those impulses take us?

Will it be muddy, of which we are immersed, for all of the descents and climbs, for its impervious traits, for the dances of light and dark, of rain and sun, for the magic that seems to follow its every step? I can confirm that the ancient Etruscan road discovered by Franco Santi and Cesare Agostini that connects Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany has truly become an emotional journey, full of magic.

And it is not only because walking in nature is an incredible opportunity to look inside and listen deeply, but also because every person you meet on that road, as it happens in life, is a reflection of us, who is there to teach us something.

If it is possible to trace a space-time itinerary of a path, will it ever be possible to draw an emotional map? I looked within to remind myself of those magical paths.

Literally “God in Us”. And ‘the spark that animates us in front of new adventures, is that sacred flame that activates us and gives us energy to invent and create, to live. Before we departed there was frenzy, excitement, and trepidation. I felt the flame turn on when I started preparing for the trip. It warmed my heart and lit up my smile. What should I put in the backpack? Train yourself, get ready, take whatever is necessary and spread the warmth of what is yet to be discovered.

I felt it grow, that divine spark, every time I carried out projects that I felt were mine. Even this time, for this trip, I decided to welcome the spark. I fed into the feeling, singing and dancing around the suitcase that is not yet complete. And I found my spark along the journey, at every awakening, at the beginning of each day of travel. It was in our scream “Yellow the world!” that was yelled out at the beginning of each stage and on top of the mountains. It was the determination to continue despite the heavy effort. It was the enthusiasm that raged amongst us during the miraculous steps of Mirella, more and more free, more and more eager – as Sharon would say – to eat the mountain.

From the Latin “de – sidus” to mean without stars. With a lack of stars there is the desire to carry those stars with us. In other words, this passionate yearning to approach something far away, such as this passage, much like the stars up there.

And there is the desire. Bruno who asks for the description of each landscape and woods. To smell the trees and see them with our noses, to plunge into the thorny shrubs and from those undefined shrubs becomes a flower to touch and smell. And if a wolf has left his paw prints then it is not enough to look at them if you do not see them. Kneel on the ground and stick the face to the path and then touch that sacred track. It is this desire to learn and listen to the stories of someone or something who has crossed continents and lives unknown. But the desire is first of all what is lacking: “Do you see the rainbow? Over there!” And for a moment I think back to the melancholy of certain watercolors of Monet and feel a silent tear that pains me inside and then a word, a smile, a sigh of bliss of someone who is staring at the seven colors of the iris and voices them back to you. I wish and breathe. And for something we do not see, there is always something else that catches the eye. Or the ear, the nose, the hands, the soul. Even though it’s not the same, it somehow is.

Light. Too much light and there is no longer any depth. There is no secure line and the perspective flattens out. Whether it is a rock or a hole in the path, I cannot see it anymore. Tell the feet. “Mud, stay right, go up, it’s steep. Stone, mud, there is a root, careful that it is slippery”. I listen for the directions, but it is not enough. Something shifts inside me. I glimpse at the emptiness next to the path. Maybe I feel it. Because you feel the emptiness if you cannot see it. And it’s terrifying. The heartbeat accelerates, cold sweat, I tremble a bit and my legs move with extreme difficulty.

There’s this tangle of fears. Fear of falling and getting hurt. Fear of not making it all the way. Fear of not being up to it. There’s this sense of inadequacy. A fear of being judged. Sometimes it is not so much the “What will happen if I fall?” But rather the “What will others think if I cannot make it?” But the mountain is severe. It forces you to be silent, to think only of your feet, ankles and knees. It drags you into this dance and there is no other choice but to Feel. Fear included. Breathe. I also listen to the terror. It is telling me something. It is teaching me to be quiet, to silence the thoughts and to listen to the feet. Courage is on the opposite side of fear. Courage teaches us to ask for help, to let ourselves be guided if necessary, as long as we understand and communicate the help we need.

It is in the most difficult moments that you discover you are not alone and can count on others. It’s when you ask for help and open your bubble space that someone can show you they are there for you. Like this, with the nature, the land of the passageway, with your fellow travelers. A group, this whole that is much more than the sum of its parts. The group supports, protects, enriches and relaxes. When you feel fear grow, you can proceed a little more easily if you know someone is there beside you. And every time someone reaches a goal such as successfully completing a climb that he did not think he could face, or whether it’s just a sigh of joy, those moments become a victory for the whole group. It successfully happened with all of us. If I had to define a sound for loyalty, it would be the chorus of the comrades that welcomes me after a comedic yet painful slide. Or maybe it is the sound of the footsteps of Igino and Bruno behind me, which makes me feel protected during my ascent.

Then there is a special loyalty between women. It is a loyalty that is felt when you find yourself in contact and you feel that the closeness is so intimate that a word is enough, in a hotel room or under the moon, to show your vulnerability that is more naked, more real, and more fragile. It is there, the moment you discover and let yourself be discovered in your vulnerability, which opens up this confidence and of sharing a loyal and intimate embrace. This is what you feel you can count on this journey. Off comes the mask because everything will be fine.

When all of mankind’s ills escaped Pandora’s box, Zeus made Elpis, the last Goddess, Hope, stand beside mortals. The origin of the word Hope passes through Latin and reaches the Sanskrit root “spa” which means striving towards a goal. It is the belief in the possibility of change, in the conclusion of something positive coming out of something concrete such as success. It has a lot to do with a positive mental attitude that nourishes trust in ourselves, in those around us and faith in something that goes well beyond us, whether it be God or the Universe or something else.

Hope is the greatest gift counted in each and every step on the passageway Via Degli Dei.

The confidence of being able to do it and the clear feeling that with the support of the Earth and in harmony with ourselves and those around us, every dream can come true. We can truly believe in every purpose that starts from a burning desire feeds on the awareness that making the difference is always something we can give, not receive.

Plato used to say that contemplating beauty is a necessary step to arrive at Love. The passageway Via Degli Dei offers beauty and wonder at every step. There is also a summit named after Venus. But I think it would have been reductive to restrict Eros to a passageway or a mountain. Eros travels along that path with those who discover and appreciate it. From the vital yearnings, from the spark, from the sensation of being part of a whole, that energy which is the law of the Universe is fertilized.

The strength of accepting the challenge of facing one’s own shadows and those of others is born from trust and breath. The earth supports those who it receives and welcomes others, our mirror, in silence. And if there is a reunion with the shadows, even the light is warmer.

Beyond freedom
When you find the center of you, your spark, when you breathe in your potential and expose it to those who are with you; when you hear what you can create, then find again that sense of freedom that oftentimes drown with our duties and everyday life. When you breathe and feel that you are free to be what you feel, then it is time to take responsibility for that flame.

It is a flame that is born within everyone, a thread of yellow light that connects those who find themselves united on their journey and in the faith that a dream can come true.

Here is where I stop and share with you through my written words.

The yellow thread of an infectious light, which is the freedom to explode one’s potential together with others, must remain a precious treasure to share, nourish, protect and grow.

And Gods willing, the dream – yellow – continues on.


Translated from the original by : Sophia Boccard

5 comments from the community

  1. Anche io, nel mio piccolo, faccio avventure di trekking.
    Ti leggo e i miei pensieri si riconoscono in uno specchio, fino a riscontrare una sensazione umana più universale di quella imposta dalla disabilità.

  2. Cara Angela, le tue poche parole mi hanno scaldata il cuore. E’ proprio questo che spero possa fare scrivere di emozioni e di sensazioni umane: connettere gli Umani. Siamo in una fase in cui un po’ per imitazione, un po’ per inerzia, un po’ per moda, siamo più inclini a erigere muri, a costruire barriere e a giudicare l’altro irrisolvibilmente diverso da noi. E invece, quando smettiamo di ragionare, quando ci lasciamo andare al sentire scopriamo di essere vicini, simili, Umani, anche se ognuno ha la sua sacrosanta unicità.
    Ci vuole coraggio, certo, ma l’avventura di re-imparare a sentire porta lontano.
    Un sorriso vicino di cuore.

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