“I am leaving with both, Custode and Cigherè. Even if a horse would be enough for the type of trip, on the contrary I would be much more agile and it would take maybe a month less. But it would seem to me that I am doing one or the other a disservice ”.
The bond between Paola Giacomini and her horses has grown and consolidated in two extraordinary years. The ones it took to travel the 9000 kilometers that separate Mongolia from Piedmont. The two tireless Mongolian horses, born in the steppes, have now settled in the Alps and are now ready to leave. This time for a much shorter but no less intense journey.
“We will leave on June 16th from the Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise National Park to arrive on September 18th on the Gran Paradiso glacier”, says Paola Giacomini.
What is the meaning of this new adventure on horseback?
“In 2022 both of these National Parks celebrate their century of life. But the real leitmotif will be a 200ml bottle: from every source encountered along the way I will take a drop of water. In the presence of the Gran Paradiso I will make it evaporate on a brazier in front of the glacier, hoping that it will become a cloud that then makes new snow fall on the Gran Paradiso glacier. And then along the way I would like to meet with local experts, to give visibility to three environmental issues that are close to my heart: the ice that goes away, the wolf that returns and the forest that changes. With botanists, geologists, biologists we will address these topics depending on the particular place where I will be at that moment. I’d like to have some greeting cards come out for the next 100 years of our parks ”.
The bottle symbol of this mission has a particular history …
“It’s true. I work on the ski slopes in the winter. And a colleague who is also a blacksmith took two pieces of the pipes for artificial snow, welded them and made a bottle for the snow of the future ”.
What is the territory you will cross with Custode and Cigherè?
“We will leave from Pescasseroli, the heart of the Pnalm, where on the evening of June 15th there will also be the first thematic meeting. Then I will reach the Maiella, then the Gran Sasso and the Monti della Laga, I will cross the Sibillini and touch the Monte Cucco. Then again north towards the Casentinesi Forests and the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines. I will cross the Po in Pavia and go up the Ticino to Lake Garda. It will turn west, to go around Monte Rosa and go down to St. Vincent to enter Valle d’Aosta. From there the Valsavarenche and then up to the Gran Paradiso “.
Eight national parks. A thousand kilometers in the most “wild” part of Italy, but still rich in human settlements. A walk compared to the 9000 kilometers of the last trip. Or not?
“From a technical point of view this will be much more difficult, because everything is on mountain routes. Riding in the steppe is much easier. This time there will be very narrow passages where the horses and I will have to be very careful. And controlling two animals instead of one is more difficult. This is why I do not rule out continuing the journey with only one animal, once in the Alps. But now we are not three in a team and I will do my best to keep it together for as long as possible “.
Will he travel spontaneously again this time, a waterproof tarp as a roof and a sleeping bag? Or will he take advantage of the civilization at hand?
“My travel style will remain the same. But I will be able to do smaller and more frequent purchases, without having to load the horses with stocks. And this is a great advantage for the animals “.
He will often have local horsemen as travel companions.
“Yup. Many of them were fundamental in helping me find the right path to follow. I am thinking of Frank Montefusco, who works in Sant’Eufemia in Maiella, and who provided me with directions for the entire first part of the journey, from Pescasseroli to Gran Sasso. But also to many others. I will be happy to ride with them “.
After two years in Piedmont Custode and Cigherè have adapted to their new Italian life. And you Paola, after that extraordinary journey, did you get used to being a resident again?
“In these two years the world has changed. We all had to adapt to a completely new reality ”.
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