The reasons that moved me to combine Sperlonga with the concept of gratitude are various. So let me begin from the start.
On thursday 24th of November Thanksgiving happened and everyone was feeding the internet with thankfulness and togetherness. It was all so spiritual and hopeful and inspiring. Unfortunately, it lasted just that one day. The next one, everyone was already fighting against each other to get the best Black Friday deal, oblivious of all that interior stuff. So apparently not every day is a good day to be thankful for something.
Then the following Saturday a gorgeous, absolutely spot on day happened in Sperlonga. And my hope and focus got back on track.
So here I am, writing about Sperlonga, Temples and gratitude.
Sperlonga is a big crag, discovered back in the ’70s/‘80s, part of the climbing history of Central Italy. Full of sectors and many different kinds of rocks and climbing styles, it’s a real playground for all sorts of rockers.
Indeed, Sperlonga is the general and broad name used to identify multiple climbing spots, from the crags over Piana di Sant’Agostino, to the Moneta Mount. Nearby, Monte Circeo and Montagna Spaccata (in Gaeta) offer a huge variety of multipitches and plenty of engagement. Cherry on top, a beautiful view over the sea. Full of rocks to climb, this site is a couple of hours away from Rome and about four hours from Palinuro and Positano.
Ristoro da Guido is where all climbers usually leave their cars and set off for the crags (except for some sectors, such as the Pueblo or famous Grotta dell’Aeronauta). Here you can also find all the info about where to stay, and you can taste some delicious Tiella (a typical local dish) and some caprese. Also, if you have a van, chances are you’ll be able to sleep in the parking lot for free.
The sun was shining high in the clear sky, the sea was peacefully rolling on its own surface, rocks were inviting climbers with all their amusing, gripping nature.
On that day, something special happened in my life: my first trad multipitch with my friend Alessia. A pure, authentic, wholehearted experience, nothing more to add.
The route is called Guerrieri della Luce, Warrior of Lights (what a perfect name!). If you have a knack for this sort of climbing, it’s a very nice route to repeat. A very enjoyable itinerary with a beautiful view over the sea. Super panoramic!
Daniele and Alessandro were climbing right across the corner, Viaggio nel Tempio, Journey through the Temple. We met at the last belay before the last pitch, where both routes meet. Together, we reached the top of this huge ensemble of rocks and crags, where a beautiful green plateau extends.
Both routes climb past the Temple, an old abandoned climbing sector where strong and expert climbers would go to push their limits back in the days. It’s a very fascinating crag, with exposed and aerial overhangs. Like a big shelf of rock, all you have in front of you is the sea and the endless horizon. It really is a sacred place.
Of course, you can get there on foot too. It’s a very beautiful trek, going through the Chiromante Wall, then the Superior Strip and eventually, flanking the edge and moving through a not so clear path, you get to the Temple, which actually is quite hidden. I roughly marked the way on the map below, for those who would like to take a nice walk there. Remember to wear long trousers: the Mediterranean scrub can be very…well…scrubby!
After such a beautiful day and such a meaningful climb, looking at the sea and breathing in that clean, free air, all I could think of is how lucky we were. It may seem granted, however I think we have multiple reasons to remind it and talk about it and discuss it with each other every day.
Things gain a different importance when you realise how many chances and opportunities life gives you. Volumes adjust. You can experience friendship, feel love and fill up with freedom. They become almost tangible.
Living authentically is something that each one of us can practice, yet not everyone has the will to do it. Days like this just show you the path, give you one more tool, enhance your skills to appreciation, worthiness and belonging. But then it is up to you.
I don’t know what I did to deserve such an amazing life, full of such amazing moments and truly honest friends, yet all I can do is to honour it by being grateful. Appreciate each very moment, then and there. Breath in and let go out. Take and allow. In a constant struggle and effort to do it. It doesn’t come natural, it’s a choice. Possibly the most important one.
Being grateful probably is the greatest act of coming out of our own comfort zone, dare to live, not be afraid to be vulnerable and feel joy. Appreciation leads to focus. When you appreciate what you have, you focus on it, whether it’s a hug, a solution, a hold on a rocky wall, a laugh with friends, a sunset, a walk nearby the sea. And the more you focus, the more you live in the present moment, which is all we have.
Fears don’t disappear, but eventually join in as a healthy sign of preservation and will to care and protect what we love: an acknowledgment, rather than a limit.
Exercise your muscles and exercise your mind. Master the technique and deepen the strength. Learn, expand, eat, explore, build, soak in, own. Lean into, lean out, mingle, spread, keep.
But first and foremost, master gratitude. Exercise it. Strengthen it. Own it. Without ever controlling it.
It probably is the only mean we have to reach a bit of peace, to connect and generate empathy. To not compromise, to work for our dreams instead of our bank accounts. To cooperate instead of competing and eventually make room for light.
Enjoy, honour and thank. That’s the mantra.
Climbing, writing, hiking, traveling, yoga, friends, books, music all thaught me this. We all always struggle a lot to keep it loud and clear in our minds, and always will. But let’s be thankful for this effort too. It keeps us alive. It reminds us of life. It reminds us we should live to the fullest, which doesn’t mean being the greatest and the strongest, for those things don’t exist and are products of our fears and our need to be accepted. It means to enjoy the smallest and the most vulnerable, and be grateful for them.