There are many differing views as to whether social media is a good thing or not. Some people turn up their noses at what they consider “a waste of time”, “totally useless”, or downright harmful. Of course, all of these ideas can be true, depending on how the media is used, and for which reasons. Recently, some locals have come up with a brilliant idea on Facebook, which proves without a shade of doubt, that it can also be a wonderful means of comunication, of bringing people together.
So what is this brilliant idea? There was already a group which encourages inhabitants of our valleys to share photos of our magnificent places, which is entitled “LE VALLI MAGICHE” – the magical valleys. The creators of the new page went a step further, and named the new group “C’ERANO UNA VOLTA LE VALLI MAGICHE” – THE MAGICAL VALLEYS, ONCE UPON A TIME. People were invited to post any dated black and white photos they have of the old days, pictures in which all the enormous changes in scenery/way of life/clothing/trades can be seen. The response was immediate and massive – photos began to appear of parents, grandparents, ancestors of all kinds. 1900’s, 1800’s, even earlier……..but the biggest attraction was that each and every photo is magically transformed into color, with the aid of modern technology!
This operation is carried out, with much patience and expertise, by our friend and well-known member of the comunity – Niki Manfredi. When Niki was invited to contribute to the group by bringing the precious photos “to life”, he never imagined the constant amount of work this would entail! So now he is scribbling away day and night with his crayons, which are running down very quickly!!!
The initial brainwave came from Luciano Battoglia and his partner Daniela Moglia, who, equally amazed at the unexpected enthusiasm generated by their initiative, began to recruit residents from the various “comuni”(municipalities) of our area, asking them to comment on photos with anecdotes, and any personal information they may have. There are already five or six of these “Special Agents”, who give their own particular view on photos concerning Bedonia, Borgotaro, Bardi, Varsi, Tornolo and… still counting! Other members are contributing by creating subgroups for the cartloads of images posted daily, in order to be able to find any specific topic easily.
Everyone is now frantically scouring their chests for old photos…..and everyone is also carefully scrutinising the pictures which keep popping up on the page, because it’s easy to spot mum, dad, grandpa, Uncle Peppino or Aunt Maria in any of them! A hundred years ago, the many hamlets were small, families were all intertwined in some way or another, so nowadays, we are all distant cousins (more or less!) of someone nearby! Many a lively discussion starts up when a relative is recognised, which in turn leads to a binding amongst the descendants or friends.
We are seeing our towns in a completely different light, in photos taken before most of today’s buildings were constructed. The very first vehicles used around our roads, folk carrying out professions and crafts which hardly exist any more. We are seeing a simple, dignified elegance which somehow got lost through the years, and smiling, hard-working families waving back from fields in which their whole existence is planted, and lovingly cultivated. We are basically seeing where we come from.
The huge participation, and the vast amount of material produced has convinced the administrators that it cannot all go to waste. Yesterday, they informed us that they have come to a decision; a book is already in the works! It will be a “cut and paste” opera of all the contributions received- not only a reminder of the way we were, but more importantly, an significant page in the history of our magnificent little corner of the world.
The group has also aroused interest in many emigrants and their families. Followers of the page are from the USA, Canada, France, UK, Switzerland and Argentina. If any of you out there have origins in the area (or are simply curious) and would like to participate, don’t hesitate to do so!
We like to imagine a great big “MAGICAL VALLEY” family in the world…