Memory in the landscape, living signs so we may not forget

Memory in the landscape, living signs so we may not forget

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Remembering the war to cultivate peace

“Memory is necessary, we must remember because what is forgotten may come back.” The words of warning issued by Mario Rigoni Stern, an Italian writer who fought on the Russian front, are alive in the heart of Romagna, an area that became a strategic theatre of the Second World War in its closing stages. The citizens of Lower Romagna who were active in the Resistance became victims of the harsh Nazi-Fascist repression. Today the headstones and commemorative stones dotted around the countryside and the banks of the rivers of this territory, remain as distinctive features of a landscape that does not forget, yet knows how to instil peace and serenity.

The starting point for a journey with strong historical and human value is Cotignola, “City of the Righteous”. Between 1943 and 1945, several Jewish families were saved from racial persecution thanks to the collaboration of the entire citizenry of this town. The event is recreated in the Varoli Museum while the wall painting “Non-automatic dispenser of courage” in Piazza Amendola remembers some of the protagonists of the 145 days in which the front was stationed on the banks of the Senio River.

The Museum of the Battle of the Senio in Alfonsine contains immersive rooms, relics, and testimonies of the passage of the front over the river while the Historical Institute of the Resistance and the Contemporary Age of the Province of Ravenna preserves an important archive of documents, periodicals, and has a historical library. In nearby Conselice, the Monument to the Clandestine Press and Freedom of the Press celebrates the fundamental role played by this town in informing the population about what was happening as regards the National Liberation Committee.

The long tradition of popular and anti-fascist struggles in Massa Lombarda is represented in the Monument to the Fallen Partisans that stands in the town centre while in Sant’Agata sul Santerno the gravestones to the fallen soldiers of Sant’Agata remember the victims of the twentieth-century’s two World Wars. At the entrance to the Rocca Estense in Lugo, there is a plaque dedicated to Carlo Landi “Matto”, an intrepid young partisan killed by the Nazi-fascists and another plaque testifying to the deportation of the Jews from the ghetto. Other places, such as Bagnacavallo, Fusignano and Bagnara di Romagna, preserve memorials of this period of war with monuments and gardens.

Photo credits

1. The Stele in memory of Senio river crossing, arch. Unione dei Comuni della Bassa Romagna
2. Mora Romagnola cured meats, arch. Unione della Romagna Faentina
3. The Rocca Estense in Lugo, arch. Unione dei Comuni della Bassa Romagna
4. The non-automatic dispenser of courage in Cotignola, arch. Unione dei Comuni della Bassa Romagna
5. The Monument to the Clandestine Press and Freedom of the Press in Conselice, arch. Unione dei Comuni della Bassa Romagna

Food – The cured meats of Romagna

Among the delicious Romagna cured meats, those produced from the Mora Romagnola pig deserve special mention. This ancient native pig breed has notable qualities of rusticity and frugality and was widespread until the middle of the last century; it was then saved from near extinction in the early 1990s. The meat produced is very tasty and can be consumed fresh or processed using traditional methods to obtain ham, salami and ‘coppa’ (cured neck fillet) of great quality.

The typical cold cut from Russi is the “Bél e còt” which resembles cotechino but is actually a tender sausage produced with pork muscle and rind. The meats are seasoned with coarse salt, pepper, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar. It is especially enjoyed during the Feast of the Madonna dei Sette Dolori, which takes place on the third Sunday in September when the town’s shopkeepers sell it. It is purchased precooked, and this gives it its name in dialect (“Ready to eat” in English)

Wine – Bursôn

In Bagnacavallo in the 1950s, the Longanesi discovered a vine clinging to an oak and saved it from extinction by planting the first vineyard and encouraging its spread. Hence, the grape is now known as Uva Longanesi from which the wine produced is Bursôn, the nickname by which the Longanesi family is known. In 1999, the Longanesi grape was registered in the grape register and in 2007 it entered the Ravenna IGT.

Bursôn is a red wine with scents and flavours recalling the undergrowth of the Ravenna pine forests where the vine has survived for years. It is velvety with good structure and a noticeable tannin refined by a passage in wood. The wine is produced in two versions, the blue label and the black label. For the latter wine, 50% of the harvested grapes are dried. It pairs well with game, red meats, roasts, truffles, and mature cheeses.

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