My brother Ludovico and I had wished that we could visit Nemi (a little town in the province of Rome) for quite a long time.
You may wonder “Why Nemi?”.
It all goes back to a few years ago and to one of the most beautiful, moving and captivating books I have ever read: “Pan”, by Francesco Dimitri.
“Pan” is a fantasy novel (even if such a definition is an understatement) where the mythology of god Pan and the tale of Peter Pan melt in a manner that creates a sense of wonder. Yet “Pan” is a lot more than this: Dimitri integrates elements that come from anthropology and hystory, and erotic and exciting scenes.
The story takes place mostly in Rome, but at some point Michele (the main character) goes to Nemi with his friend Irene. I won’t spoiler the novel, but I can tell you that my brother was looking forward to taste the fantastic wild strawberry pastry the characters eat in Nemi, and I couldn’t wait to visit Diana’s Temple.
We didn’t know how much of what we read in the novel was real and how much came from Dimitri’s imagination, but we decided to go explore nonetheless. My sister Beatrice joined us on our day trip, as she too had read the book and was enchanted.
After trying for quite a while to find a day when all of us were available, we finally got to go on August 12th (keep the date in mind, we will go back to it later on).
Upon arrival, we started walking along the streets of this little town and we immediately realised that the story about wild strawberries was extremely real: Nemi is the town of flowers and of wild strawberries. Thanks to its favourable position, it has a mild climate all year long and this fact makes it easy for this yummy wild fruit to ripen almost constantly. You can find wild strawberry products (such as pastries, tiramisu, liquors, etc.) at every bar, bakery and restaurant. My brother felt ecstatic, as you can imagine.
Walking along the streets and allies was such a nice experience – we live in a beautiful small town in Southern Tuscany, yet Nemi offered us new colours and an old town full of life.
And, aw, the lake, its deep blue mixed with some strays of emerald green, and surrounded by a rich vegetation that offered a show of many shades of green!
By the lake, right there on the shore beneath the town, here it was: Diana’s Temple. Nowadays only a bunch of ruins is left of what once was a magnificent temple, but magic is there, it is palpable there as it is in the whole Nemi’s area – it is not surprising at all that Dimitri chose to set part of his novel there.
After walking for a while on the natural paths just outside town, we got back in the car to drive to the lake and the Temple. We drove through Genzano di Roma and then arrived on the banks of Nemi’s Lake. We didn’t know how to get to the Temple – we had asked for information to a shop owner in town but his answer was “Watch it from up here”, not very helpful.
When we caught sight of the signal “Il sentiero del mito” (The myth path), we sensed that we were on the right path and we started walking on it. It was deeply moving and transformative: along the path we had the chance to meet and know Diana better, we learnt about the latin myth of Diana Nemorensis that was then mixed with the Roman myth of Diana, the Greek myth of Artemis and the Egyptian myth of Isis. We found out that Diana, as many others, is a triple Goddess (her two other faces being Selene and Hecate), and that women have always offered objects and prayers to Her for many different reasons.
I could talk about Diana for a long time, but I won’t do so now.
I can say though that my encouter with Her was cathartic: do you know when things happen at the right time and smell of synchronicity? Well, the day trip to Nemi was exactly this for me. Diana came to remind me of things about me that I had forgotten and to help put together the pieces of a puzzle I had worked on for a while.
I previously asked you to remember the date of our trip: August 12th.
As no things happen randomly, when we arrived in Nemi we found out that during that week there were events to remember and bring to light Diana’s ancient celebrations (called Nemoralia), that used to take place in Nemi in that period thousands of years ago. In fact, the Ides of Diana are on August 13th.
Someone wanted us three to be there at that time so that we could also attend a conference by anthropologist Michela Zucca on Diana, Wild Nature, Freedom and the Price of Power. By the end of this alchemical conference we were moved and determined.
I have made the decision to get to know Diana more intimately, both within and without. I will talk about this another time though.
I have tried to grab some Magic and I hope I can offer it to you through these photos.
From my Wild Heart to Yours,