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Qui di seguito pubblichiamo il racconto con il quale il nostro Alessandro Mannelli, della IV A CAMBRIDGE, è stato particolarmente apprezzato nel progetto GLOBAL PODCAST, guidato dalla prof.ssa Catia Mele per il nostro liceo.

Il prof. Marcos, referente della scuola capofila, la Belgrano Day School di Buenos Aires insieme alla Tuyen Quàng Gifted Highschool, liceo vietnamita, farà pubblicare l'elaborato sotto forma di podcast sul portale internazionale supportato dall'UNESCO.



Once upon a time there was a woodcutter who lived in the snowy mountains of Sila. He was of modest condition and lived with his wife and his three children. They lived in a small cottage located on the top of a mountain, called Monte Scuro, and they heated the rooms by burning wood. In spite of being very far from the rest of the village, they lived happily and provided for each other as best as they could. 

On a sunny day, the woodcutter left his house and headed to the woods to cut down some trees. He had been doing that job for a very long time and had learnt the best way to from his father, who used to be a woodcutter as well. He always felt at peace when he was in the woods, he could feel a sort of connection with nature that made his spirit calm and serene. When he was about to cut a tree down, he would gently tell the trunk: “I promise I won’t hurt you, okay?”, then he would handle the axe firmly and hit the tree. The woodcutter had no sense of time when working and often spent hours and hours cutting trees down and speaking to them. Whenever he felt he had done enough, he would go back to his cottage and devoured anything his wife had made for him. 

In truth, there wasn’t much to eat at home: most of the time it was just some roasted potatoes, still, neither he nor his children did ever complain. The night came and they all went to bed for a sound sleep. During the night, the woodcutter had a weird dream and dreamt of an enchanted chest lying in the depths of a lake, that resembled Lake Cecita. As the dream kept going on, more details about the mysterious place were revealed. The lake was surrounded by high pine trees and some cows were mildly browsing in the meadow. At one point in the dream, he approached the lake where crystal-clear water shone bright in the sun and spotted something emerging from the water. Then everything went black and he woke up.

The noise that woke him up seemed to be coming from outside. The woodcutter started to feel nervous as it looked like something or someone was scratching on his front door. The sky was pitch black outside and howls were hooting under a pale moon. The woodcutter summoned up all the courage he had and slowly reached the door. With a trembling hand he pushed the handle and peeked outside: there was nothing to be seen for miles. He thought it must be his imagination and went inside closing the door behind him. 

The following day, after a quick breakfast, he went into the woods again. Once he was in his favorite spot, he started telling his dream to the trees which dropped some leaves that created a path going deep inside the woods. With great surprise, the woodcutter followed along and reached a meadow full of beautiful, scented flowers. In the distance he could make out a herd of sheep sipping water from a small brook. The brook flowed through the meadow and had a curvy outline. The woodcutter felt instantly very thirsty and got close to the brook without much hesitation. There, he bent down on his knees, rolled up his sleeves and plunged his head into the water. When he reemerged, he noticed that something was sparkling right in front of him: he looked hard and couldn’t believe his eyes, it was the chest he had dreamt about the night before! What could the chest contain? He tried to force it open, but it was locked: a small note was attached to it “Belongs to the Magara”. 

The woodcutter was a little confused, so he decided to drag the chest back home. 

At home, he told his wife what had happened a few hours before. His wife was speechless but all of a sudden she came up with a plan: “This chest looks like it might contain a treasure! Imagine we could become rich! I suggest that you go and pay a visit to the old lady living downtown, it’s going to take you a while to get there but I’m sure it’s going to be worth the pain”. 

The old lady the wife was talking about was known by everyone in the village and it was whispered that she had some divinatory powers that allowed her to predict the future. The woodcutter had no choice but to go there. The downhill route leading to the village made the journey easier and the woodcutter found himself in front of the lady’s house in two hours’ time. 

He knocked on the door and a screechy sound was made. The old lady didn’t make his guest wait long and appeared at the doorstep with a grin on her face. She let the woodcutter in and asked him for the reason of his visit. The woodcutter showed the old lady the chest he had with him to which the lady seemed slightly impressed. She started talking: “I haven’t seen chests like this in a very long time, this is definitely a unique one”. The woodcutter enquired whether there was a way to open it.  The old lady giggled and told the woodcutter the only way to open it was to give it back to the rightful owner. The woodcutter then showed the lady the note attached to the chest and received valuable information from her on where to find the Magara: “Rumor has it the Magara, who commonly goes by Old Witch, lives in an isolated part of the region and anyone who has ventured there before has never found his way back. Apparently, the Witch dwells in a very small house, surrounded by lush vegetation. Take that trail over there to start your journey but make sure you have everything you need with you”. 

The woodcutter thanked the old lady and bade farewell. Another journey was about to start.

The journey lasted a day and a half, during which the woodcutter stayed at many places and met various hikers that gave him some advice on how to keep going through the harshest areas, such as Fossiata, where temperatures could easily fall below zero during winter.  

When he eventually reached the place, he was totally out of breath and collapsed to the ground. He could feel the wet blades of grass moisten his cheeks and when he found the strength to get back up and look up at the sky, he saw that a giant white moon was lightening up the dark night. Not very far from the place where he was standing was a small house with a roof made out of straw. He started walking towards the house and, unexpectedly, he found out it had no door: “Well, no one must have been here in the last twenty years” thought the woodcutter. Nevertheless, the woodcutter entered the house and started looking around: a thin layer of dust covered the ground and the walls were moldy and stinky. An otherworldly voice came out of the darkness, which gave the woodcutter the chills. 

He didn’t dare to move as a strange figure emerged from a corner of the room and revealed its face. It was definitely the Old Witch he had been looking for! She mumbled something he couldn’t understand so he said: “I’m here to open the chest that belongs to you so, if I may ask, can you tell me how?”. The Witch burst out laughing and said: “All you need is true love”. The woodcutter couldn’t believe his ears and caught the Witch by her neck to try to strangle her. “Do you even know how much I’ve travelled to come here? I need to know how to open that chest because I need the money that’s inside”. Seeing that the Witch had nothing else to tell him, he hurled her on the floor so mightily that he made her faint. In utmost despair, the woodcutter took the chest and headed back home. Details about the woodcutter’s journey back home are not clear but the last part of the story is still told to children. 

The woodcutter finally reached his home. When he opened the door, the wife almost cried out of joy and hugged his husband kissing him all over his face. “I’m sorry to have made you feel anxious” said the woodcutter “but I’ve travelled far and wide to find out how to open this damned chest”.

The wife replied: “Don’t worry, my dear, did you manage to open it?”. After hearing his wife’s words, the woodcutter started to weep bitterly. “What’s wrong, my dear? Why are you crying?” asked the wife, surprised by her husband’s reaction. Their children had also showed up after hearing their father crying. “Daddy, daddy, what’s up?” they asked visibly worried. 

The father brought his children closer and kissed each of them on their heads. His wife was sitting on a chair and looked apprehensively at her husband. 


The woodcutter finally said: “While travelling I’ve tired myself out so much, I thought I’d never be able to see you again. But now that I’m here, all I want to do is to spend time with you and live our life even more happily than before. I realized that being rich doesn’t equal being happy. I don’t need anything else but you to be a happy man. Tomorrow I’ll take this chest to the lake and throw it into the water. Yes, I’m going to get rid of it”. The family then hugged, and a warm laugh could be heard from their house. It was in that very same moment that the chest magically opened having them all shook. Another note was on the bottom of the chest: “Good job, whoever managed to open this chest, real richness isn’t material. Money won’t ever buy you love, friendship, or happiness. These are things that you can only find elsewhere. It’s up to you to choose which path to take: choose love and happiness will follow, choose money and this chest will be closed forever, just like your heart”.

Alessandro Mannelli, 4^A Cambridge