To the rediscovery of our roots.

The event “Melfi – 1000 years of history, art, culture and falconry” was an opportunity to travel not only physical, but historical and ideal to discover our roots. In this article we want to take you into this land to know some aspects that we neglect today.

by Maria Lucia Tangorra

«Once you know the flight, you will walk on the earth looking at the sky, because you have been there and there you will want to return» said Leonardo’s genius, who «has been able to unveil the secret of attraction that compels us irresistibly to raise our eyes to the sky, summarizing in a single sentence a collective archetype, the dream of flying». We wanted to start with these words related to the exhibition “Aria, uomini, falchi” by Serena Galvani because they perfectly describe what inspired the artist to celebrate Falconry. This ancient art is connected to the figure of Emperor Federico II and Melfi, a territory rich in roots to (re)discover and cultivate. Melfi – 1000 years of history, art, culture and falconry (from 12 to 14 October 2018) was a precious opportunity to do it. The event was organized by the Municipality of Melfi in collaboration with the G.F.I. – Falconieri Italiani Group, Arci Caccia, Falconieri Association of Melfese Nino Laviano, Falconieri Group “De Arte Venandi”, Basilicata Region, Fund for Development and Cohesion and Apt Basilicata. This union of forces is symptomatic of how much the desire for the passage of traditions from one generation to the other is felt.

During the three days of the event, also characterized by historical re-enactments and shows, the International Falconry has found its welcoming home. In these places, the Swabian emperor has not promulgated only the constitutions (1231), but has given life to his scientific work contained in the “De Arte Venandi Cum Avibus”, a treatise on the hunting technique implemented with birds of prey.

The city of Basilicata, in those weeks celebrated its millennial birthday of the foundation of fortification by the Byzantines, «it has always been a geo-strategic crossroads where peoples, cultures and religions met in history», highlighted the mayor Livio Valvano. You can imagine what traces have left – you can experience it in the splendid National Archaeological Museum, located on two floors right inside the castle. «The castle, that we reach for a short ascent of the road is impressive in this silent hour of the night. There is a drawbridge with many gates, gloomy courtyards, massive towers, and butlers with keys and ferocious dogs all the requisites of the feudal fortress of the romances of chivalry» wrote the nineteenth-century writer Edward Lear, who traveled so much our Belpaese.

Massimiliano Mora, President of GFI, told us with pride that finally «in 2016 came the recognition in Italy of “Falconry, a living human heritage”, as an intangible cultural heritage registered in the UNESCO List of Representatives» and during the days of “Melfi – 1000 years of history, art, culture and falconry” took place a round table of international importance (among the speakers also the Undersecretary of State for Cultural Heritage and Activities Lucia Borgonzoni and the UNESCO coordinator for MIBAC Luisa Montevecchi), that was among the aims «to increase awareness of the importance of the intangible cultural heritage among young people and in civil society» (from the official note).

During the event, it was possible to see the remarkable commitment of the subjects involved in conveying this tradition «over time and with the base of the past», underlined Mora, «communicating with the guys also through social networks». Here we are sure that the very young and whoever participated in those days was enchanted in directly assisting the flight of many species of birds and observing the shots of Galvani, so skilled in capturing the expressiveness of the falconer and the animal, to such a point from grasping the soul that, according to him, «is what the raptor and the man communicate in their living together. Man can not fly by his own means, but it is equally true that the moment comes when life teaches him to explain his wings». Falconry for the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire was a means of spiritual elevation and precisely in this light the photographer moved to set up the two exhibitions – the one already mentioned and “Stupor Mundi” – bringing out both the medieval past of Melfi (just think of the thirteenth century Church of the Madonna delle Spinelle) and the esoteric aspect of Federico II.

The man-eagle photo, entitled “Metamorphosis”, that clearly illustrates the intensity of the relationship between man and bird of prey, is also of great impact. «I fly. At that moment for me the world exists no more, I get completely lost and it is a sort of therapeutic cure», Galvani confessed. And these emotions can actually suggest them through the photos (those of “Aria, uomini, falchi” are contained in a book) and we allow ourselves to say that thanks to this initiative we have had the opportunity to try them too. «Il falco va / senza catene / fugge gli sguardi sa che conviene», Grignani sang in “Falco a metà”. One is really immersed in that flight: the hawk starts upwind, but no one knows where it will go; swooping can get to touch you, you have to follow him until the look is lost and that’s how metaphorically we find ourselves thinking of being in the air and flying.

In 2019 Matera is the European capital of culture, our advice is to prepare a well-designed itinerary so you can enjoy the city of stones, but also what the surrounding area offers (from the forests to the volcanic lakes of Monticchio). You will undeniably be impressed. Moreover, every year, in Melfi, in the month of October the falconry festival is repeated and you can relive the evocative medieval atmosphere, rediscovering the passing through to know even better our today. «Without knowing the past we can’t tend to the future. We need collective memory to foster and guarantee dialogue and peace», said Dr. Borgonzoni.

Credits Press Office “Melfi – 1000 years of history”: Reef Communication.

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