Tuesday, May 03, 2011

night in Merano

This part of northern italy used to be inhabited by the Ladin (hold the OBL jokes) people, before the arrival of Italians and Germans roughly 800 years ago. Through out the centuries the natives have become increasingly displaced and marginalized, politically, economically, physically: and ended up moving to the mountains to "wait for an age of eternal peace" after losing a final battle with Germanic tribes.

Only 2-300 years ago the main language in these parts was Ladin, a form of old Latin, before being over taken by Italian and German. The downfall of the Ladin people continued to WW2 times, when, at the possible lowest, they were reduced to nomadic "tinkerers" who moved from place to place with horse drawn carriages, making little wooden sculptures here and selling little gadgets there. Yet from the very bottom and outskirts of society, they have consistently produced amazing artists of all kinds: influential film makers, conceptual artists (one of Gilbert and George, etc.), and musicians (Giorgio Moroder, etc. -- Fun Fact: the Top Gun soundtrack was produced in these very mountains).

Today there are only about 30,000 Ladin speakers left; but they are doing quite well for themselves up in the Dolemite mountains with ski resorts and tourism.

there you go, something wikipedia can not tell you. thanks to Haimo Perkmann for imparting this bit of local history over Tyrolean dumplings (more like matzo balls) last night.

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