La Darbia blog

TWICE UPON A TIME...

Text by Claudia Femia

Mar, 2 aprile 2024
TWICE UPON A TIME...
credits: @joanka1980
  Baron Lamberto's is a novel much loved by children and adults; a surreal and compelling story, in the heart of the island of San Giulio. @j84c The ingredients are all there: a small island that is somewhat mysterious, a lake once infested by dragons, a fascinating village with a sacred mou..

 

Baron Lamberto's is a novel much loved by children and adults; a surreal and compelling story, in the heart of the island of San Giulio.


@j84c

The ingredients are all there: a small island that is somewhat mysterious, a lake once infested by dragons, a fascinating village with a sacred mountain, a writer capable of making his way into the hearts of adults and children alike. Thus, from the mix of these elements and the inexhaustible imagination of Gianni Rodari, one of the children's books capable of attracting readers of every generation was born. Twice Upon a Time Baron Lamberto is a story that is always current, always enjoyable, always funny. His creative irony fills us with lightness and helps us cast a literary gaze on our wonderful Lake Orta.

Starting with the title we are faced with a strange anomaly. The classic introductory formula, the "once upon a time" of fairy tales, is doubled by the author who thus creates an effect of curiosity and suspense around the extravagant protagonist. This is the old Baron Lamberto, grim and very rich (twenty-four Swiss banks belong to him) tormented by twenty-four illnesses, all noted by his trusted butler Anselmo, who records them in a notebook in alphabetical order.


@museorodari_omegna

The large villa that hosts the baron right in the center of the tiny island also hides an extraordinary secret: in the attic of the house, six trusted collaborators hired by the protagonist spend the day continuously repeating his name, in order to extend his life by making him immortal. But unexpected adversities undermine the plans of the baron who will have to deal with a greedy nephew, interested in taking over his inheritance, and with a gang of twenty-four bandits, determined to kidnap him to obtain a huge ransom. The sudden death of the protagonist, brought about by his evil nephew, will be incredibly resolved with an unlikely resurrection, whereby the baron will return to life in the form of thirteen-year-old Lamberto.

This surreal and ironic ending leaves us with food for thought and opportunities for interpretation. Let's not forget that for Rodari writing is always play and fantasy, but also analysis of reality, with a pinch of irreverence thrown in.


@museorodari_omegna

Among the pages of the story there are also many references to the geography of our territory, an environment to which the author, originally from Omegna, was particularly attached. Between the lines we encounter some iconic places of Cusio, from the Quarna Belvedere to the Buccione tower, from the Bocciola Sanctuary to Monte Mesma, from Alpe Quaggione to the peak of Mottarone. And of course the Sacro Monte of Orta where «if a storm breaks out, you quickly take refuge in the chapels where the coloured terracotta statues, covered in dust and worm-eaten from old age, silently tell the story of Saint Francis».

But it is above all the Nigoglia that suggests an original reflection, with its unusual path: this river emissary of Lake Orta, in fact, is the only one capable of flowing northwards, that is, in the direction of the mountains, while the other watercourses flow to the south. In the same way as Nigoglia, the author seems to invite us not to follow usual paths, but to always think with our own head, acting with an independent spirit, without conforming ourselves to the masses.


@edizioniel - Edizioni Einaudi

To all lovers of Lake Orta and literature enthusiasts, I would also like to point out the Rodari Museum, recently inaugurated in Omegna, in a modern and interactive environment, where the pleasure of discovery prevails with texts that come down from the shelves and fairy tales that can be listened to "on the telephone" with the possibility, by dialing special numbers, of hearing them recited in different languages.