There is an evocative place, not far from Madonna di Campiglio, of particular beauty.
It is a forest where the number, shape and diversity of its trees creates a harmony that could be described as perfect.
Shafts of light filter through the foliage in unalike yet always surprising ways depending on the season and time of day.
Hence, a place of rare beauty that must be safeguarded and contemplated.
This is how the idea of creating a “Forest of Embraces” was born, a place where the beauty of this corner of the Dolomites is highlighted through a gentle, non-invasive action in harmony with the environment.
An evocative name and some points to ponder to invite passers-by to “tiptoe” into nature’s magic.
The Forest of Embraces thus becomes a place for reflecting and listening.
Nowadays, we all need to rediscover closeness and symbiosis with Nature, and a forest represents a good opportunity, one of the few remaining within reach, to rediscover that natural sense for authenticity for which we all, more or less consciously, are searching.
Entering a forest is like entering a different world.
It is a world that cannot fail to move us because it is the habitat of our primordial emotions, those of the animal instinct that forever lie deep in our essence, even if often dulled and tamed by a daily life that tries its utmost to make us forget who we really are.
We always feel a bit like strangers, a bit smaller in a forest, but, if you think about it, also a bit more real.
It is a place where our certainties fade away, but also where a new way of sensing reality arises and the useless scaffold of the superfluous slowly crumbles.
We can resist all we want, the forest manages to draw us in and unsettle our ephemeral truths.
Step after step we feel a sort of reverential respect rising up, as if entering that place were a kind of desecration.
Only then does the forest truly begin to take on the role of “healer”, and we feel we can let ourselves fall into its embrace.
So let us pause for a moment at its threshold and take time to really look at what is in front of us.
We observe, in silence, we contemplate. The trees are the Lords of the forest.
Many of those towering timbers are older than we are and will still be there for those who come after us; they are the timbers of the temple of life.
Trees are generous beings: they filter and recycle the air we breathe, they give shelter to beasts, birds and people, they gift us their wood, they give us fruit, they feed us, they help treat us with their incredible essences, they protect us from the icy cold and the sun’s searing rays.
They are generous beings beyond all measure because they ask for nothing in return from animals or humans, merely respect and care.
Animals know it, people of old had learned it, yet we are forgetting it.
Let us enter silently and slowly, observing everything: the single and the whole.
We will feel the resinous essences expanding our lungs with every breath we take. We will hear distant rustles and murmurs, sense presences before we can actually see them, and we will be alert, aware.
We can walk up to a majestic White Spruce, a tree of a thousand symbolisms and great medicinal properties. It is the tree that ancient European peoples loved to adorn with red ribbons on Solstice Day (later to become Christmas in Christian times), a symbol of renewal and rebirth.
The wind whispers songs through the branches of the Beech, a majestic and wise tree, already consecrated to Zeus in classical Greece. Its name probably derives from the Celtic word fog (fire), because of the colour of its autumn foliage or the properties of its wood.
Then, amidst the hazelnuts, blueberries and junipers, we may glimpse the rough trunk of the Larch, a strong and stubborn tree capable of living in perfect solitude among the rocks at 2,500 m, defying frost, snow and drought. There are some that were born more than two thousand two hundred years ago.
We can caress the velvety trunk of the Red Spruce, the lord of our forests; run our gaze upwards along its trunk to catch a glimpse of the sky towards which it always reaches. Evergreen, a symbol of strength and rebirth. In Greek, it is called Elatè, the name of the nymph who protects women in labour and new-borns.
We can carefully listen to the very voices of the trees: beech, spruce, larch, all speak with different voices, all tell life stories.
We will also find the presence of humans among the natural wonders in the Forest of Embraces. A very discreet presence, however, that will be revealed through certain phrases of women and men who have loved forests.
Aphorisms from different times and countries that share a reverential respect for trees and what they represent.
Bernard of Clairvaux, Alda Merini, H. D. Thoreau, Erri De Luca, H. Hesse and others will speak to us about trees.
Each of these phrases deserves a moment’s reflection to grasp the essence of the words.
We can take advantage of this moment to dedicate a thought to the forest that is welcoming us.
We should not be in a hurry in the Forest of Embraces; we should sit on the fragrant moss and try to feel part of the place, ideally putting down roots in this earth. Only in this way will we begin to see our surroundings as something absolutely our own,
something to be deeply respected and resolutely defended, and when we depart, we will carry forth this experience in our hearts.
Welcome to the place where nature speaks to us.