A backpack full of freedom

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To reach the dam of Frera, in Val Belviso, you have to leave behind a bit of the world you know and immerse yourself in a forest at 1,800 meters high. Finding it is not easy. Yet this hydraulic engineering monument holds millions of cubic meters of water. But it hides well: behind a curve, beyond a valley, surrounded by a forest.

Then appears, almost by surprise, e the emotion is overwhelming. Enthusiasts say there is one beauty of the dams, given by their grandeur and the details that make them unique: the grandiose height, the curvature of the walls, the pipes that descend precipitously, the perfection of the lake waters.

Above all, however, they are admirable expressions of human ingenuity, which conceived them to obtain clean energy from blue gold: water.

The emotion, in fact, gets stronger when you know the people who make the dam a living object, infusing it with that human energy without which all others are useless. They are a very lucky category of workers, because they spend their time immersed in beauty and peace of the mountains. They tell of the breathtaking view of the valley, the changing beauty of the landscape, the winter nights illuminated by the glare of the snow. And they feel free, but aware of being part of a mechanism that generates progress.

In the movie Time has stopped by Ermanno Olmi, the guardian of the dam said: «Peaceful weather, life is beautiful!». Alberto Confeggi, who carries out the activity of Dam Guardian for Edison in Valtellina, he is calm inside and for this reason he never feels alone. “Every day I leave with a backpack full of freedom“, tells. In his sentence there is all the sense of passion for a job that takes him to the top of this dam built in just two years (from 1957 to 1959), 138 meters high, perfect panoramic point to admire the artificial basin of Lake Belviso , nestled between the Orobie Alps. «We are one with nature», he continues, «and we must not forget that».

Thirty kilometers below is there Venina power plant, entered into service in 1923, which collects water and transforms it into electricity: «Valtellina has been around for a century now it is a special place for the production of hydroelectric energy », explains engineer Mauro Zecca, manager of the Edison plants in Valtellina and Alto Lario. «As a Valtellinese this makes me proud. But the real engine is thehuman energy: trust in your collaborators and team unity are fundamental ».

Here the concept of “united team” does not only concern hydroelectric professionals: satellites of creativity orbit in the valley, such as wooden sculptures that Andrea Franchi created at an altitude of 1,400 meters, “to restore to passers-by the peace and serenity I feel when I am here”. There is the instinct to protect the territory that Doriano Codega, president of the Orobie Valtellinesi Park, summarizes as follows: «In this place tailored to local communities, hydroelectric plants represent a driving force for growth. I’m two realities that coexist, to protect the high natural value of the valley ».

And then there is the look to the future, to thatpotential energy represented by new generations: «In collaboration with Edison and with the Orobie Park», explains Laura Panella, teacher of the primary school in Tresenda, «we have created a project to tell children about the uniqueness of the valley and the value of clean energy. With one goal: to make them grow that awareness that, one day, will make them promoters and guardians of this special place where to feel really free».

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