Sometimes a small distraction is enough to risk the loss of one’s load or even worse...
fter having strained to carry their loads up to the pass, Gino and Raphael exchange their goods with a quick bargain: they are friends and they have known each other for years. Furthermore, swapping rice for salt has its rules and measures. Gino can finally go home and the bad weather arriving drives him to choose the quickest route, which however is also the most dangerous. A complicated and steep passage. A foot that looses hold on the rocks. Gino slips and plunges out of sight, beyond the rim of the mountain. The mountains seem indifferent to this human drama.
Something has stopped the lethal fall. A hand that firmly grips the rock with the tenacity of an animal fighting for its life. Gino lives. But the danger is not yet over: the balance is fragile and the backpack with its weight is pulling him downwards. The decision is difficult: what to save? The precious load? Life? Gino can count on help from just one thing, an old friend: his ice-pick.
GinoBefore becoming a smuggler Gino was a mountain man. He knows these trails like the back of his hands, but for him, too, danger lurks around every corner.
RaphaelRaphael is an experienced smuggler who knows that fortune favours the brave and therefore he ascends to the pass and waits for the Italian smugglers to intercept the best loads.
During the war period, the crossings were undertaken in groups of five, ten or even twenty persons. On the almost inaccessible trails of the border several groups met and formed groups of thirty or forty persons. After sunset the border was teeming with life, one expedition followed the other night after night in a continuous coming and going: lines of smugglers that proceeded along silently and furtively. When the wind blew, nobody complained. It was much safer to work under such conditions that strongly limited the surveillance of the customs officers or the Germans.
Very seldom dared a man to walk alone, but despite the danger in case of bad weather, being alone meant having better chances not to be seen by those who controlled the border crossings.
Ottonelli Elisabetta – Il Contrabbando – Storie di contrabbando per i colli di Viso – Comunità Montana Valli del Monviso – Progetto Alcotra Vis’Oc
Ottonelli Elisabetta – Les contrebandiers – Histoires de contrebande entre Queyras et vallées du Viso – L’ Office de Tourisme du Queyras – Projet Alcotra Vis’Oc