In anticipation of our Italian Flash Fiction retreat in May, we asked native Italian Bryan Jansing to talk a bit about how Casperia and the Sabina Hills feature in Italy’s long history.
Casperia in Italy’s Wars
by Bryan Jansing
The first stop after leaving Rome to reach Casperia is Poggio Mirteto train station. Standing before the hilly slopes and fast rising mountains as you leave the train into Poggio Mirteto is a large billboard dedicated to the partisan fighters of World War II. The 8th of September 1943 is an important date in Italian history; it’s the day Italy joins the allies. Poggio Mirteto, like many of the small towns and villages peppered throughout the ridges of the Apennine in the Lazio region, was nurturing grounds for the Italian resistance. As the armistice with the ally armies goes into effect, German soldiers flee Rome, passing through the hilly and stony slops of Sabina, Caspera and most importantly, through the train station of Poggio Mirteto. Over these tracks passed retreating Nazi soldiers, their equipment, prisoners and trains loaded with captured Jews headed to concentration camps.
Liberated from Mussolini, Italian soldiers and their generals, along with ally soldiers who escaped Nazi prison camps behind enemy lines, Jews who fled their captors and others on the run in these mountains unite to form the Italian resistance, the partisans.
Until the end of World War II this ragtag army, whose ranks are filled with a hodgepodge of unlikely heroes unite to sabotage the retreat and occupation of the Nazis. The billboard at Poggio Mirteto reminds us of these heroes who rose during a terrifying and bloody period.
Battles in these hills go back to the Etruscans, the first inhabitants of this region. The Etruscans ruled from 900 BC until a small village called Rome would revolt in 483 BC. Then there were the attacks by barbarians as the Roman Empire disintegrated, the feuding wars of the Middle Ages and the renaissance. Little towns like Casperia were safe in their fortified villages way up on high peaks and allied to like-towns through fiefdoms. It’s not hard to let your imagination run and let the array of time pass through you.
Italy lagged behind as a third world country without trains or paved roads to connect these old, medieval towns left forgotten, until Mussolini brought Italy to the industrial revolution in the late 1930s. For this reason, Casperia remains nearly untouched. Its charm and tranquil setting allow us to slip back to a time where life moved slower, where there was time to think, relax and catch our breath and strengthen our relationship with our often neglected muse.
Bryan Jansing is an international, award-winning author. His Flash Fiction was included in Fast Forward Vol. 3, The Mix Tape (2010), which was the finalist for the Colorado Book Awards. He has also written for Beer Advocate, Celebrator, Primo and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. His book Italy: Beer Country is the first and only book available about the Italian craft beer movement. Find out more about Bryan here
Read Nancy Stohlman’s interview with Bryan here:
Italy: Beer Country The Story of Italian Craft Beer Book your tour: www.ItalyBeerTours.com