The Churches of Torricella
The Alpinists Church for the Black Feathers
By Antonio Piccoli
We donít have precise statistics, but at least 60% of Torricellan soldiers called up for obligatory military service are recruited into the Italian Alpine Corps. The reason for this lies in the fact that it is a mountain village and its height of 900 metres undoubtedly contributes to tempering those born here to withstand the hardships of cold and snow. These conditions of military life ensure that the camaraderie continues even after the short period of service has ended, as is shown by the large annual reunions held all over the region, which are attended en masse by Torricellan Alpinists. This has been going on for a long time, since the unforgettable Nicola DíUlisse organized them into a local chapter and left to the village on Irco Hill (Colle dellíIrco) a monument dedicated to the Alpinists of Abruzzo, dear to all Torricellans, whether or not they are Alpinists.
After his time, the Black Feathers of Torricella continue to meet and to sing, and they sing so well that they are recognised at all meetings and are invited to sing wherever jollity is required. Marziale, the manager of the "Black Feather" ("Penna Nera") bar, is their undisputed leader, who cannot be confused for anyone else, an interpreter full of fantasy of Alpine, Abruzzan and Torricellan songs. Some years ago with other Alpinists they formed an objective: to build a small church with their own hands on the hill of the "Cross" or "Crucifix" ("Crocetta"). They managed to get a plan for free from the Communal Administrator Architect De Biase in which there is also provision for paving an area facing the church using porphyry1 (porfido), several benches and an access pathway crossing the pinewood. Marziale says, "Once it is finished it will be most beautiful, with brick walls and a timber ceiling; it will be nice to stop there for a while to enjoy the panoramic views which extend from the sea at Ortone to the mountains of the Molise. To build it," Marziale continues, "We shall work for free in our spare time and we shall finance the acquisition of building materials with subscriptions and collections; we shall need about 35 million lire. Up until now we have received and paid out about 15 million; we received 4 from the closure of the Polyphonic (Polifonica), 2.5 from the mountain community with funds from the Bellini competition, 2 from an emigrant who wishes to remain anonymous and other contributions from many voices (other people) from the village: extremely welcome were 600 thousand lire left in his will by an old Alpinist. With this money we have already carried out construction of the weight bearing structures of the church." Now Marziale hopes that all Torricellan Alpinists will feel it belongs to them and, together with all Torricellans, will feel the duty to subscribe further to provide the other 20 million lire that are needed to close the works in beauty.
1A hard, resistant volcanic rock used for paving roads
© Amici di Torricella
Translation courtesy of Dr. Marion Apley Porreca
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