The Legend of Mountain Grigna

There is an ancient legend, a traditional myth surrounding an enchanting chain of mountains. It’s the song of a legend and typically performed by a choir of alpini, the oldest active mountain infantry in the world. It’s the tale of the origins of the creation of the Grigna and the Grignetta, the pre-alps towering over the south-eastern shores of Lake Como, where I grew up.

Throughout the summer, every time I spent a day hiking on these mountains, climbing up it’s steep rocks or marching down trying not to slip over the loose stones, I found myself humming or singing La Leggenda della Grigna to myself.

So I’m climbing up the Val Cassina, my heart beating at a million times a minute as I hope the mountain will once again let me live, a rock won’t fall on my head or break loose from its matrix under the pull of my weight. Once again I realize I have the song in my head, it’s slow, melancholic melody. I know I won’t get it out of my system until I have truly grasped its message, made it part of my walks and throw in some yoga positions

According to the myth, there was once a beautiful but fierce woman warrior to whom a knight went to offer his love. She ordered her guard to shoot an arrow straight into his forehead. The knight fell, But God punished the heartless, cold-blooded murder. The warrior became the Grigna, a severe and steep mountain, the guard was transformed into the Grignetta.
The lyrics continue, this time told in the first person by the Alpini’s voice, and roughly saying that yet:

“our love is faithful to this beautiful and cruel mountain, we discover her hidden treasures, entrust our lives in her hands and pray. May God have mercy over us”.

As we reach the Bocchetta di Val Cassina, behind Sasso Cavallo, and trod down to Rifugio Bietti, I realize that the legend is a mantra for good hope, for all the mountaineers who respect the arduous and unpredictable mountain, love and admire her and pray for her protection. The knight seeking love, beauty and wonders is reincarnated in all intrepid adventurers who walk up along the steep edges in expectation and enchantment. But we have learned the knight’s lesson, and as we struggle up towards the peak or refuge, we humbly deliver our destiny and faith in the will of nature and its Generator, Operator, Destroyer.
La Leggenda della Grigna, like most remains of our ancestors, tells of a way of life that urges the importance of understanding earth as our companion Pachamama with complete power over our lives. We cannot expect or dare take anything from her but what she already gives us.

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