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Halloween is near, and this year too we are telling a somewhat terrifying legend about one of the many “Transit Counties”.

It is in the traditionally passing lands that the most ancient thrill stories have been handed down for centuries, told to ask the passer-by for due respect.

Because a pass, a transition between different lands is a mystery: what will there be there? What does the near future hold for me? In between, as we travel, we transform like a werewolf, as in a fatal encounter, and we will never be the same. The stories of terror interpret the value of this passage, witnessed by events as mysterious as they are significant.

Passing lands in Italy are many, as are the horror stories.

One of these is told in the small village of Scogna Sottana, or in Sotto, in the deepest Val di Vara, a land where nature dominates and writes peasant culture since the dawn of time.
A perfect middle ground, between the sea of the Ligurian coast, just a few kilometers from the Cinque Terre, and the highest mountains of the Apennines in this region: the road climbs towards the Cento Croci Pass, and looking eastwards at the mountains you go through other lands, other directions.

Vara Valeeys mountains, in a transit county

The story goes back to no one knows well when, an indistinct time perhaps between the 18th and 19th centuries, just when, not too far from here, a great virtuoso of the violin was born, Niccolò Paganini, destined to expand his reputation as an improviser of tormented musical masterpieces far beyond the borders of these lands and his times.

A young virtuoso violinist moved to this peasant village, a mysterious character, always absorbed in his thoughts and in his music, who played in torment night and day, on the strings of his instrument. Not much was known about him, and in the village it was told alternately that he suffered love pains, that he had a past, or was only haunted by his music.

Niccolò Paganini, originario della Val di Vara

It must be said that in these areas those who come from far away, the Forèsti, are notoriously not welcome, and are always observed with suspicion. But the eccentric young man actually had aroundhim a certain aura of mystery for the solitude he lived in a house outside the village, probably belonging to his family,  by a small church.

Suddenly, the young man fell ill with his mysterious torment and died. No one came to mourn him.

The house, over time, remained uninhabited even if not completely in a state of abandonment, because its location was perfect to allow wayfarers in this land of passage to stay there for a while during their journey. By daylight it looked welcoming and perfectly suited to that use.

But after midnight the harrowing sound of a violin terrified the guests of those bewitched building and of those who were around there, and even the violin itself was told to roam in the air.

Even today, the sound of the violin is heard in the night after midnight in the woods surrounding the town, as told by the few inhabitants of Scogna and those who cross the valley in the night.

The cover image is taken from

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