LA MAGIA DELLA MARSICA
“NEC SINE MARSIS NE CONTRA MARSOS, TRIUMPHARI POSSE”
In this sentence, which translates as:
“One cannot win either without Marsi or against them”,
there is much of the spirit of this land concerning above all the proud and independent character of its people.
The Greek historian Appian of Alexandria, who lived in the 2nd century AD, succeeded in photographing in a strong and precise way the essence of the ancient Marsi, untamed warriors who, having passed to the service of Rome, became the protagonists of great heroic deeds in many Roman battles.
What Appian could not imagine,however, is that in that sentence the “magic of Marsica” is also contained, that is the secret of the Marsican territory capable of transmitting this characteristic of strength, heroism and kindness even to subsequent generations.
In other words, the magic of Marsica is in the ability of the population, who lives in this harsh and harsh territory, to adapt to it by acquiring, on the one hand, great physical resistance, suitable for living in a high mountain area, and on the other thecharacteristic of an outwardly tough character, but also curious and respectful of everything that surrounds it.
Marsi were one of the many Italic peoples who lived in the Apennine Italy in the 1st millennium BC, and the area they chose as their homeland was the territory surroundingFucine Lake.
This territory, which then took the name of Marsica, was inhabited long before a new Osco-Umbrian language settledaround Fucine Lake.
These young warriors mixed with the natives over time, giving life to Marsi, who came to constitute a hybrid people, which originated partly from other areas of pre-Roman Europe, and partly from the Fucine area.
Over the centuries this people adapted very well to this place, dedicating themselves to lake fishing, sheep-breeding, agriculture and fight.
But over the centuries Marsi also specialized in the treatment of snake diseases and poisons, through the culture of herbs, hence their reputation as “sorcerers”.
Marsi were therefore a very intelligent people, who had been able to develop the ability to even control snakes, developing for this purpose a particular music with animal horns.
Marsi, unique among Italic peoples, managed to make snakes harmless through a “little song” or singsong.
This “tune” and their ability to enchant snakes is handed down to us by several ancient authors such as Pomponius of Bologna (1st century BC), Virgil or Horace, who speak of generic words or songs for this purpose. Among the ancient authors we have
Aulus Gellius, who speaks openly of the use of a flute by Marsi to obtain this kind of music.
At the moment, however, there is not archaeological evidence of the existence in ancient times of some flutes used by Marsi, so we are still within the scope of the legend.
Whatever the case, Marsi certainly had important skills, which greatly impressed the Romans, who used them for their deeds. If the capacities of this people have developed and emerged, the merit is also of the environment that has stimulated all this.
Establishing almost as a game fifteen years ago, in 2003, an amateur site called “WEB MARSICA” to describe this territory, of which I still ignored the great variety of things in it, I understood its great potential over time, through a thorough study ofthis territory.
Thus, realizing the richness of the area both from a cultural and above all environmental point of view, I also understood how little or not known at all the Marsican territory was, on a national and international level, so I understood that there was a need for awider dissemination of all this in a historical and scientific key.
So I started to create various pages and sub-pages concerning Marsica, gradually expanding the knowledge of this magnificent land, halfway between Rome and the Abruzzo coast, unfortunately considered by most to be a stopover point between these two places, but certainly not the destination of a journey, which not only deserves to be made, but above all deepened, given the cultural and environmental variety that this territory can boast of.
Marsica, which has always been an integral part of the Abruzzo region, is therefore an area with a precise cultural and environmental connotation, which makes it unique in its kind.
This is given above all by the presence of the large Fucine basin that, being immersed between the crown of mountains that surround it, has represented for a long time an isolated area, which has evolved on its own, untying itself from the surrounding context.
When, for historical reasons, the neighboring populations came into contact with the Marsican territory and with those who lived there, they found a particular reality, with fairytale scenarios, which resembled almost the Alpine territory.
In reality, this territory is better than the alpine one, since it offers a variety of environmental and cultural conditions, which in no part of the Alps is minimally present.
Many millions of years ago Marsica was a territory that emerged just above water, formed by small elongated islands, which stretched out flat or at the most hilly, parallel to each other, a bit like the current Bahamas islands.
Over time these islands transformed, due to the great geological processes that affected Italy, into a large mountain range.
This chain, which is that of the Apennines, is well represented here in all its variety of environments, made up of high mountains, large valleys and large mountain ranges.
Then many of these basins were filled with large lake mirrors, which modified the territory with their presence. Some of these lakes dried up over time, while others stabilized and persisted, such as Fucine Lake.
Until the last century, that is until 1876, Fucine Lake occupied the entire present-day Fucine plain and even in more ancient times it also included the Piani Palentini, so in some way we speak of a small sea brought into the mountains by a nature “painter” of events.
This large lake, the third largest in Italy, was a huge freshwater lake comprising an area of 155 km², with a depth of just 18 m, which derived from a karstic system fed by a water basin of about 700 km², that is, we talk about springs and resurgences generated by an underground water circulation.
To these were added then the waters brought from the mountains and from the small Giovenco River, the only tributary of the small inland Marsican sea.
Unfortunately, this immense lake never had emissaries in which to pour its own waters and, when there were conditions of intense and prolonged rainfall, its level grew very quickly, flooding the surrounding villages, without even giving the inhabitants the time to escape.
And it is with this impervious and not very easy nature to live with, that the people, formerly Marsus and now Marsican, formed themselves, adapting themselves, their own character and their own physique.
Let us not forget that we are talking about a territory that, besides being formed by a small sea, included large mountains, resembling the Alps in terms of height and morphology.
Therefore the physical and temperament of these people had to be very resistant and suitable to live in these places, as well as the fauna and flora that were here allocated.
Well, it is precisely by virtue of this environmental evolution, that today we find ourselves faced with a fauna and a flora with entirely autochthonous species, which do not exist anywhere else on the planet.
I am thinking of the Marsicano bear, the Abruzzi chamois, the Apennine wolf, the Apennine lynx, just to mention the large mammals, while for the flora we have the beautiful beech forests of Abruzzo, with ancient trees even 600-700 years old.
These big and ancient trees establish with their presence a great record of longevity, but also of purity of the Marsican territory.
Going further into the environmental discourse, we must point out that what exists of this great variety of faunal and floristic nature, is mainly due to the geological nature of the territory, made up of a mostly calcareous-dolomitic structure.
In fact, if the Marsica mountains are characterized by a large trace of Pleistocene glacialism, they owe it to their mainly calcareous-dolomitic geological nature, and thanks to this we also have the ample traces of karstification present in the territory with dolines and caves.
But above all this limestone-dolomitic nature has allowed a luxuriant presence of springs and springs, which in addition to feeding the large Fucine Lake allowed the people of Marsica to have a continuous and rich influx of drinking water, giving them a way to develop a body robust and able to survive in the great game of time and life.
The healthiness and purity of the Marsican environment is witnessed not only by the longevity of the beech-woods in the area, but also and above all by the great concentration of over-hundred-year-old seniors, who with their presence in the territory concretely demonstrate the strength and adaptability of the people of this land, to the challenges of a hard territory.
So, just to try to tell in the best possible way the riches of this extraordinary land that is Marsica, this website was created, aiming to illustrate and make known as completely as possible the characteristics of the Marsican territory and its great potential.
The WEB MARSICA Staff