On May 17th, Barga’s Solidarity Week (La Settimana della Solidarieta) drew to its close; a week of varied activities to celebrate the work of the GVS (Gruppo Volontari della Solidarieta).
The GVS is an association which works with people of all ages, many with disabilities. Its underlying ethos is one of friendship, sharing and inclusion, and so tries to address many of today’s problems which increasingly give rise to intolerance, exclusion, indifference and bad behaviour
The Day of Friendship (La Giornata dell’Amicizia) took place on Friday May 16th. In the Fosso area, just outside Barga’s medieval walls, people gathered for the Walk of Friendship (La Camminetta dell’Amicizia); local civic and religious dignitaries, the GVS President, some of the Alpini, the young flag throwers and drummers of Gallicano, members of Barga GVS and its volunteers, the children from the local kindergarten and primary schools, plus many others from day centres etc around the area. There were even two Italian Para-Olympians, Sara Morganti and Stefano Gori.
To the beat of drums, the Walk set off from the old town to the Giardino area of Barga. Flag throwing displays, speeches, presentations and games followed, with everyone involved.
I, both as an observer and a participant (as a GVS volunteer) was struck most by the fact that everyone was involved. From early childhood people are encouraged to participate with and celebrate everyone, regardless of differences. In fact, differences, themselves, are celebrated. I can’t help wondering, and asking, why this doesn’t happen in the UK? What a less divided and divisive country it could perhaps be.
I still can’t quite fathom what brought us here to Barga, but am happy and fulfilled that it did, if only to see how “insieme” (together) a society can be and next year I hope to be here for the whole of Solidarity Week and not just its final days.
By Jenny M Want
For Jenny, living in Italy is a dream come true. A retired teacher, she now lives in scenic Barga in Tuscany with her partner David.
Immersed in Barga life, Jenny passes her time writing, researching, observing and learning.
Jenny has written a fun book for children set in Barga, Tuscany – The Bat of Barga.