What is the Occitan soul?
It is a way of being, thinking, speaking, of interrelating with others, of living the innate occupational, social and familial commitment in a territory that coincides with an alpine valley. It is a kind of brand that is usually inherited or that in any case develops with deep roots anchored in a specific geographic place. In the Po Valley it is not apparent and those who posses that kind of soul are aware of it in an innate way and they do not put it on display.
Maybe the Occitan soul of the Po Valley can be explained or defined as a richness of experienced or traditional knowledge of the people of this territory; a knowledge that is often similar to the one of the neighbouring valleys but that distinguishes itself by its own characteristic peculiarities. The Occitan soul of this valley is not exposed; it can not be seized by a superficial glance or perception; it can not be intuited in a touristic hit-and run approach.
It reveals itself in the little things that one discovers, if one really wants to know a place and its peculiarities and to get familiar with it in a “slow” mode of curiosity, interest and love of the real culture and not the constructed one for touristy purposes.
It needs time to explore, to listen, to discover: walking through the forests and the districts, discovering places by means of the names that the people gave them (a toponymy approach), admiring not only the natural wonders but also the signs left by man that can be found in the rural and religious architecture, sensing in the solutions for habitations and production sites the genius and the industriousness of the inhabitants of these mountains, who in the course of the centuries had to form a territory by remedying problems linked to the climate and to the lack of certain types of resources.
One discovers the soul of this valley talking with those who have lived here and have even made the language an instrument suited to satisfy needs linked to their own occupational and familial activity.
It is discovered talking with the people, reading the written testimonies of the past, in books as well as in things, in the whole and in the details, and then again in a thousand other ways that we leave for those who want to enlarge upon and to taste the knowledge of the valley, the pleasure of discovery.