Ancient thrill stories are handed down for centuries in traditional transit lands, such as near passes and natural borders. They aim at asking the passer-by for due respect to the transit they are going through.
Because a pass, a transition between different lands is a mystery. What is behind this mountain? What does the near future hold for me? In between, as we travel, we transform like a werewolf, as in a fatal encounter, and we will never be the same. Terror stories decode the value of this passage, witnessed by events as mysterious as they are significant.
Passing lands in Italy are many, as are the horror stories.
One of these is told in the small village of Scogna Sottana, or in Sotto, in the deepest Val di Vara. In this land, nature has dominated and determined peasant culture since the dawn of time.
A perfect middle ground, between the sea of the Ligurian coast, just a few kilometers from the Cinque Terre, and the highest mountains of the Apennines. The road climbs towards the Cento Croci Pass while looking eastwards at the hills; you go through other lands in other directions.
No one knows precisely at what time the story is set. Perhaps between the 18th and 19th centuries, just when, not too far from here, a great virtuoso of the violin was born, Niccolò Paganini. The guy was meant to become the improviser of tormented musical masterpieces far beyond the borders of these lands and his times.
A young virtuoso violinist moved to this peasant village, a mysterious character, always absorbed in his thoughts and music. He played in torment night and day the strings of his instrument. Not much was known about him; in the village, it was alternatively said he suffered love pains, had a past, or was only haunted by his music.
In these areas, those who come from far away, the Forèsti, are notoriously not welcome and are invariably observed with suspicion. But the eccentric young man actually had some aura of mystery around him. He lived in a solitary house outside the village, probably his family’s, by a small church.
Suddenly, the young man fell ill with his mysterious torment and died. No one came to mourn him.
The house, over time, remained uninhabited. Yet not entirely abandoned, as its location was perfect for letting wayfarers stay for a while during their journey through this land. By daylight, it looked welcoming and perfectly suited to that use.
But after midnight, the harrowing sound of a violin terrified the guests of that bewitched building and those around. Apparently, even the violin itself was seen roaming in the air.
Today, the violin sound is allegedly heard at night after midnight in the woods surrounding the town, as told by the few inhabitants of Scogna and those who cross the valley the night.
The cover image is taken from travel365.it