Photography and words by Paolo Ricca
Unmaterial Heritage
The cultural heritage of a civilization is not only the expression of monuments and objects, but also concerns all the traditions transmitted over time. Social practices, languages, religious rites, holidays and the practices of everyday life, an immaterial treasure that has comes up to the present thanks to our predecessors, through the succession of generations. Its understanding encourages mutual respect between different ways of living and thinking, a tangible source that preserves the inestimable wealth of our skills. In Italy, in recent years we have witnessed a real return to the origins, a movement who see many people returning to embrace the customs that belonged their ancestors. From north to south, passing through the center of the country, one of the most characteristic is the shearing of sheep, a collective ritual that is renewed every year during the early spring.
Luciano's farm is a kind of place where the rhythm of the pasture still flows raw and impetuous. Arteries of the city begin to fill with traffic and hundreds of sheep are gathering laboriously dragging a wool cloak that the latest rains have made even heavier and unsustainable. The gathering can last several hours and pushing the whole flock into the pen requires great patience and confidence. Ten, twenty, one hundred, each sheep is immobilized with the help of a rope through an operation that can be dangerous because these, notoriously meek, often kick to escape. Quick, precise and delicate movements are required, in order not to damage the animal's skin which, without its protective wool, can easily be injured during cutting, causing an infection that is sometimes even fatal. Luciano, Paolo and Samuel, the great old man, the son and the grandson, three free spirits, a story of other times on the trail of own present.
An old shepherd delivers his grandson the keys of a centuries-old tradition, the prospective of hard but grateful work.