Monday, May 16, 2011

Damanhur, Torino's secret 8th Wonder of the World


At last, I have finally laid my own eyes on the actual spot here in Torino province, what has been called by London's Daily Mail, the 8th Wonder of the World.  You can read the story of how the temples of Humanity came to be in the Daily Mail's 2007 article on Damanhur on the above link. Having said all that, I didn't actually get to see the actual sight itself. Quite the shame, but it means we'll just have to return another time. We arrived late in the afternoon after having been a little further up the road to visit a cantina in Carema, that is part of our Strada Reale dei Vini Torinese associtaion. We're visiting our greater neighborhood of Torino Province while we stock up on some of our small wine producers goods for our summer season to delight our guests and tickle their taste buds. That part of the trip is a different story coming soon. 
Probably not surprisingly, it took a bit of an effort to locate the actual site. We're pretty good with directions, but these are small country roads and there isn't a yellow brick road leading to the temples. After a few fits and starts and getting some interesting stories about working with Damanhur from people  that live close by whom we stopped to ask directions of, we arrived to a fairly modest welcome point. Modest, although abundant colorful paintings and flowers did help you realize that you had indeed arrived. When the friendly woman at the entrance enquired what it was that I was seeking. I found that I hadn't really thought about it enough to give a non stammering answer, especially in Italian.  Well, ah, umm, ah, hum, I don't know and finding it pretty difficult to articulate. 
Damanhur Welcome Center and Forestiere
I had read about Damanhur a a couple of years prior to the 2007 Daily Mail article when I was searching for something on the internet, and found it all quite intriguing. A while later I met some people in London whom had actually visited it and I didn't realize until the Mail article that it was so close to us. We had guests a couple of years ago who visited while they were here as they were from Findhorn community in Scotland and were interested in Damanhur, as it is an intentional community. In their own words, "Damanhur, is an eco-society based on ethical and spiritual values, awarded by an agency of the United Nations as a model for a sustainable future." Their web site is here. It is quite an extensive site now compared when I first ran across it when I was searching out organic foods and other types of food that were difficult to find when I first arrived in Val Chisone.  After chatting with the welcome lady, we went on up to the Crea, which is a kind of community and business center further up the road. I have been fascinated by this community and it was wonderful to place it in my minds eye. They are a multifaceted community that have fit themselves into a part of Torino province, that at one point, was abandoned due to local dynamics of the Olivetti plant all but shutting down and people moving on to find work and livelihoods somewhere else. I didn't know what to expect, but we were delighted to be greeted by Kiwi, a local resident who was the greeter at the door to the Crea. Walmart greeter she was not, "Hello and Welcome".  She explained what the center was about and invited us to join in on a evening of Spanish food and dancing if we'd like and have a look around. Unfortunatley we arrived too late to go into any of the shops, but the window peering was interesting and the €10 plate of Spanish themed organic food was tasty and fun. We sat out doors where we were eventually joined by Kiwi and another visitor from Holland and the people who ran the natural food store and a former Carabiniere and his son who is currently a working officer for a lively and animated dinner. There was a crowd of people all scattered about on a casual Saturday night out with food and friends. A small gang of small fry tore about making good use of all that energy. We took our leave just as the dancing was about to commence as we still had a journey home, arriving at midnight, we did. I really would have loved to have stayed and joined in as it really was a pleasant atmosphere with a number of languages spoken. We noticed in the parking lot on our way out, that there were a variety of nationalities represented on the license plates, Germany, Spain, Slovenia. Fabrizio and I both enjoyed the people and the place and look forward to visiting again one day, as I really would like to see these temples and learn more about their life there. There truly was a peaceful, pleasant welcoming spirit to a place that seems to always be welcoming strangers that turn up at their door. Perhaps that is why we felt so at home. 
One of the underground temples
Photo courtesy of Hotel-Erbaluce

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