Sasso Gordona from Bisbino©AnnaRapisarda. The gigantic Giants
Ph. Anna Rapisarda

In the mountains of Lake Como

Between Lake Lugano and Lake Como, the Val d’Intelvi, crossed by the two Telo streams, is a mixture of prairies, woods, mountains, limestone and dolomitic peaks, slopes.
(Find out more on > “Longing for Intelvi” meeting with Vittorio Peretto)

Among beeches and green alders, rhododendrons and hellebores, ferns and birches, cocksfoot grass and euphrasia of the Alps, rowans and maples, laburnum and chestnut trees, hawthorns and junipers, far from men, live creatures immeasurable in strength and stature: they are, just them, the Giants.

The legend

There was a time when the sea submerged everything: valleys, mountainsides, sometimes even entire mountains. It was at that time that the giants built paths: it is said that there is one in the Riva San Vitale area, in Switzerland.
They lived, so it is said, on the emerging peaks and moved from one island-summit to another on logs used as boats which, during the harshest storms, were tied to metal rings inserted in the rocky walls. Traces of all this, elders reveal, can be found at Sasso Gordona, Sasso Manduino above Colico, but also in Vercelli and Bolzano.

It is said that the last giants were seen jumping on the peaks of Val Corta and Monte Generoso.
The youngest among them fell in love with a girl who, as in the saddest stories, rejected him. He was saddened to the point of isolating himself for the whole winter in a cave in the mountains. Loneliness drove him to madness and a convulsive gesture, when he pushed his back against the rock with such force that it caused a landslide. He is still there and we know that because nothing ever grows on that plain: under the stones he continues to hit and move, causing small landslides.

On the Generoso, where cannibals lived, a legend tells that a young man was forced to take refuge in an inaccessible place so as not to be eaten by the giants who, hungry for “Christian” meat, kept screaming that they could smell it.

Then there were the giants of Mount Garzirola, near Porlezza, much uglier than those of the Val d’Intelvi: hair like brambles, bloodshot eyes, protruding teeth and portentous muscles. They survived by robbing goats from farmers. They robbed them of the sacks of flour that they ate like this, raw, but above all they kidnapped their daughters and young wives.
However when they also began to take away the children, one of the mothers, invoking the sky, unleashed a storm on the mountain: the ground collapsed and buried all the giants.

“Il grande libro dei misteri della Lombardia risolti e irrisolti” Federico Crimi, Giulio M. Facchetti (Newton Compton Editori, 2008)