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A dream called Europe.

Today I want to talk about a dream called Europe.

Behind every photographic mission that I embark on hides a long historical research work. I do not want to photograph rocks but I shall tell the stories of men that remained on those rocks forever.

It is the stories of those men that changed me, knowing them closely, showing me the places where they have gone and discovering how far the foolish madness of the human beings can be pushed.

Today, with the passage of time, my experience is so different from what those young people lived through. I experienced Europe while being in university and I live in it today through work and out of affection.

I read some of the diaries of those soldiers who, despite having their sense of duty lead them to extreme sacrifices, dreamed in their hearts of peace on the continent.

That is why I asked Julia, a young Austrian mountaineer who is studying in Milan under the Erasmus project to accompany me on this penultimate photographic mission.

During these years of work there were many European friends who accompanied me and who, with astonishment and reflection, contemplated on those horror fields.

The goal of this mission was one that took the tough nickname of “mountain of iron and blood” and believe me, by the amount of iron still visible, the spilled blood can easily be imagined.

This time I decided to take a flag with me. So much love for the mountain, for the freedom we now have to cross from one border to the another, so much respect for all those who have shed their blood in the many desperate assaults that I could not bring a national flag with me.

It would have not represented the spirit of my photographic work. I do not commemorate the death of ones or the death of others. I want to represent them all. I want to represent those who are our fallen: the fallen of Europe.

Julia and I arrived to the summit, which was the first Austrian line. We took the flag of the European Union out of the backpack and a shudder ran through my backbone. We descended to what was nobody’s land until we reached the reticulates still plagued on the ground. Arriving at the Italian front line we raised again the flag of the Union.

Tell me what you want, I have friends all over Europe and I suffer at the mere thought of thinking about what my great grandparents have gone through without ever coming back. That freedom that they could not appreciate and that many fools today would want us to lose.

As the flag waves, I think of the words of that young Austrian lieutenant, Felix Hecht, who died while hugging the machine gun being the last one standing in extreme resistance. He was buried somewhere on a glacier, his body was never found back. His diary will reveal a sense of duty as well as respect for the enemy and extreme melancholy for the war that devastated the continent.

Never again! Today the European Union is reality and is more than a dream. It is only thanks to this institution that we, the young, can go to study or work where we choose, and we do not have to pick up the rifle and march into fratricidal wars. It is our duty to remember and remind ourselves.

Whoever wants to contradict me shall take his backpack and climb onto the mountains with me to touch the bones of the fallen with his hand.

The stories of many Soldiers are told into my photographic exhibition “here they fought! 1914 – 1918.”

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