The first trip
Another load, another trail: an “old” smuggler gives in to memories.
or years now Gino has been ascending the mountains along the smuggling trails. His legs seem to move on their own; his glance sweeps freely along the horizon, causing his mind to stray back in time to the memories of his first trip. He was young then and he thought that it would not be a strain to carry his load of cloth that filled his backpack. But step by step he slowed down; he became short of breath and soon he had to give up, stop and ask for help...
Now, years have passed by and Gino is the first in the row that winds up on the trail. And it is Gino who sets the pace and who is always ready to carry the heaviest backpack. Today on the trail the occasion for a good deal puts him to a test again and he must demonstrate that he has become a “weighty” smuggler.
GinoGino is always ready for a good deal, but experience has taught him that for a big gain you have to make big efforts.
RaphaelCunning and with a big heart Raphael is the best when it comes to bargaining the goods, whatever they might be.
Smuggling in these valleys historically involved the communities of the villages close to the passes, but during the Second World War even people from the middle valley departed to reach the places where the exchanges were made. While once the smugglers were people used to accomplish long hauls up in the mountains due to their rural activities, during the war years anyone who thought he was able to face a crossing with a load on his shoulders became a smuggler. They were mainly young men exempted or dismissed from military service, but often even women driven by their families’ needs.
The loads the smugglers carried varied according to one’s capacity, normally ranging between 15 and 30 kilos, but in some cases reaching 50. Some persons had become famous for their capacity, like Fin’d Gian’d Talina di Melle (his real name was Giusiano Giuseppe) who, in the period of the Resistance, accomplished at least a hundred trips in less than two years, up to three in a week.
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