Away from Collective Madness

Summer 2020

The most dreadful thing about COVID-19 is the incomprehensible transmission mode, it doesn’t happen when ten people are sitting in a cafe or restaurant laughing and joking around, but it suddenly becomes contagious if you get up to go to the bathroom, and the mask becomes a must. This deadly virus, harmless below 1.5 metres above ground level, instead follows you up to the peaks of the mountains, where it is not uncommon to find lonely people wearing masks. Before this nightmare, from which many have not yet woken up, you went to the mountains to breathe fresh air, today you breathe your own fetid breath with a continuous recirculation of your waste.

I remember that until the summer 2019 the problem #1 was the exceptional heat, there was not a single year in which the global heat was no longer alarming than the previous year, therefore the newscasts recommended especially the elderly to take refuge in shopping centers and drink lots of water to avoid illness. This year, however, everyone is supposed to wear a mask at 35 °C even without a single human being within 100 metres, and this is considered safe for health. The elderly are perhaps the most affected by media terrorism and it is not uncommon to meet them on a bicycle along the highways where cars speed by at 90 km/h, without a helmet, but with a mask. You never know, if you die from a car accident then you go to increase the number of coronavirus deaths.

It is also very strange that in January and February, when it was not yet known how to treat this new disease, no one was required to wear respiratory protection, not even the health workers and certain doctors who continued to examine at the day hospitals with the temperature. On the other hand the experts from television, on the scientific evidence of hot air, declared that the risk of contagion in Italy was zero, because the virus was not there. The best is that those same experts haven’t fled to Costa Rica to avoid the angry crowd, but they are still being hosted on television because the crowd is more tame than ever.

The emergency management was characterized from the beginning by nonsense. A newletter sent to all the Regions, evidently forgotten in a drawer, indicated that measures should be taken against the possible spread of the epidemic and while a state of emergency had already been declared by 31 January, political exponents of the current government were organizing aperitivos in the Navigli district, a short-sighted mayor spreaded the “Milan doesn’t stop” campaign, and the Atalanta-Valencia match was authorized with 46 thousand spectators just three days before discovering the so-called patient zero of Codogno, the one who had been sent home with pneumonia because despite having all the symptoms, he had not been in contact with China.

From the winter reassurances about a virus rumored to be on the other side of the world – actually, the gates of Europe had been opened to spread efficiently – we quickly moved on to an effective campaign of lobotomizing the population through television and newspapers, with an aggressive, insistent terrorism, using a war jargon, making a bulletin of thousands of deaths every damn day, inserting into the statistics people who died from heart attacks or road accidents and even negativized positives (sic), performing the drama of military trucks carrying the corpses of people cremated without having greeted their relatives and without having been subjected to an autopsy.

From the embarrassing “hug a Chinese” campaign, we have moved on to not being able to hug even our parents, due to the house arrest for 60 million people, transforming Italy into a huge penitentiary. They have segregated people at home banning healthy outdoor physical activity, sunbathing and thus keeping the immune system efficient. With the children locked up at home making remote learning with makeshift means, they closed the stationery stores and forbidden supermarkets from selling writing materials, while it was always allowed to leave the house to buy cigarettes and grow your lung cancer every day. Closed parks and open tobacco shops: clear proof that the priority was the health of citizens.

The State has proved capable of imposing the rules in a widespread way and with excessive penalties, fines of 400 € to people who simply tried to live, Federica Torti reported that she was fined because she was wearing tracksuit and sneakers, a separated mother from Grosseto told me that she was fined while she was cycling to the kiosk with her three children, because in both cases the officers judged they were practicing physical activity. Hefty fines were imposed on those who took the dog to pee 300 metres from home instead of 200. I remember the paradoxical live TV of the helicopter chase of a poor man alone on the beach, with Barbara D’Urso cheering. Drones chasing picnics. And, with the partial reopening in May, fines for engaged couples who kissed after two months of being away. And to think, such vehemence had never been used against drug dealers, who were instead left free to settle parks and stations.

The confinement and the continuous catastrophism of the mass media have generated a psychosis in adults and children, and for many the fear of dying has overcome the will to live. After the foolish idea of sanitizing asphalt and building facades was born, people believed that the virus was everywhere in the air. In my neighborhood I heard about the extreme case of a diabetic girl who hasn’t even been out on the terrace since February. Before entering any store, the ritual of hand disinfection is required, and the alcoholic solution dispenser is like the holy water font at the entrance to the churches. There are people who still spend all the day disinfecting their hands convinced they are doing themselves good.

A large part of the community is now composed of pathophobic hypochondriacs that overstep the already questionable recommendations of the health authorities voted to the worst-case scenario. I have seen two-year-old children whose parents imposed the wear a mask, which is theoretically required over six years of age. While physical activity outside your own home was prohibited, I saw a family of three taking a walk in the shared garden every day, all wearing masks. Runners had become the utmost plague spreaders, and running on the street could cost you to be beaten savagely.

With the partial reopening in May, as soon as I could, I ran away from this collective madness towards my beloved mountains.

In the Chiavenna valley the air was totally different from the pandemonium of the plain, people were not so frightened. A walker met on a path told me that many went out for walks in the woods even during the lockdown.

The following photo is of the first hike in Montespluga, a panoramic view of the lake of Andossi (2039 m). It is also known as “Lake of Ducks” by the locals because once these birds migrated to the Andossi plateau and lived in this small stretch of water. There are still snow residues, and the pink hue that is seen is given by a unicellular alga, Chlamydomonas nivalis.

Lake of Andossi

In this another panoramic view, you can see the whole lake Montespluga bordered by the Highway 36 which leads to Milan, on the left is the dam that have been built in 1931, on the right is the village Montespluga, next to the Splügen Pass and the border with Switzerland. The mountain that overlooks the lake is mount Cardine (2467 m). From the left, four main peaks are recognizable: Pizzo Ferrè (3103 m), Cima di Val Longa Centrale (3004 m), Pizzo Tambò or Tambohorn (3279 m) and Pizzo Tamborello or Lattenhorn (2858 m).

Lake Montespluga

At the second hike, after three days, I found a pleasant weather and I was able to reach the Black lake of Spadolazzo (2310 m). The lake, still covered in snow at the beginning of June, is located in a basin of glacial origin on the west side of Pizzo Spadolazzo (2720 m). The greenish hue of the rocks is given by mosses and lichens. The lake is close to the Lai Ner pass, which leads to Switzerland.

Lago Nero dello Spadolazzo (Black Lake of Spadolazzo)

On the hill above the lake, about forty meters higher, I met some sheep grazing. In the background there is the path that goes down to the Andossi plateau.

Sheeps at the Black Lake

This instead is the waterfall of Cenghen in Abbadia Lariana (Lecco) in all its height, a jump of about 50 metres, a vertical panoramic view obtained by merging several shots on a tripod. The waterfall can be reached easily through the mule track Sentiero del Viandante (Wayfarer’s Path) starting from the wash house in the Linzanico hamlet.

Waterfall of Cenghen

Starting from Pescegallo, hamlet of Gerola Alta (Sondrio) on the path to the lodge FALC, just before the dam of Trona, take the fork to the left towards the lake Rotondo and you will find the beautiful lake Zancone (1850 m). In the middle of July the water is cold and calm, and you can bathe. Here a polarizing filter has intensifyied the green color of the lake giving transparency to the water.

Lake Zancone

Here we have moved 600 km further south, Mount Amiata (1738 m) seen from Mount Labro (1193 m), Grosseto. Amiata is the highest peak in southern Tuscany and is an extinct volcano.

Mount Amiata

Unfortunately, collective madness is always there around the corner, ready to surprise you when you felt safe. In early August I hiked to the summit of Mount Amiata and found what I call “Monument to the Human Idiocy“: dozens of potentially infected wet wipes and surgical masks fastened to the basement that holds the sculpture Madonna of the Scouts, left at the mercy of the wind that will tear some of them dispersing in the woods, and then take hundreds of years to decompose. This discovery spoiled my day and reduced further the already scant hope I placed in the most intelligent species on the planet.

Statue Madonna of the Scouts

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