Massimo Maggiari dares you to draw inspiration from landscapes.
Massimo Maggiari likes to wander, likes to discover, likes to explore. In his youth, he mountaineered to get his blood going. These days, steep cliffs and tall peaks can be a bit much for the middle-aged Italian professor and writer, so instead he hikes and writes for thrills, finding these journeys just as exhilarating as hanging off a rock ledge.
Mountains have always captivated Maggiari, and mountainous landscapes have always rooted his spirit. In mountain ranges he sees a setting of beauty and obstacles, and it’s this juxtaposition that has inspired him his entire life. At age 9, he painted pastels of a mountain village near his home in Italy. Decades later, in 2002, he hiked along an old postal trail in the Dolomites, winding in and out of forests, up and down the rugged and exquisite terrain.
At one point on the trail, Maggiari noticed ancient crosses carved into the stone. Suddenly, mountain became muse. Upon returning from his expedition, he began work on a novel, spinning a mystical tale in which a garrison of 18th-century Tyrolese soldiers is enchanted by a mysterious woman and her drum. As extraordinary events begin to occur in the mountains, a postal officer and an alchemist friar work with the soldiers to solve the mystery.
In February 2011, Maggiari’s novel La Fortezza di Cristallo (The Crystal Fortress) was published. And while mountains continue to inspire him, he has recently taken a liking to the marshes and rivers outside of Charleston, kayaking through South Carolina wetlands. As a local friend told him, “Kayaking is how you hike in the Lowcountry.”
No matter where he is – mountains, marshes or somewhere in between – Maggiari treks and travels across landscapes with an appreciative eye. It’s not the eye of a naturalist or vagabond, but rather the eye of a storyteller, who believes in the power of setting, and how landscapes help connect people and their homes.
Maggiari believes it is imperative to give young people stories featuring their landscapes, and he also believes it is imperative for young people to explore and step out of modern life and set foot in the natural and timeless parts of the world, where one can take risks and pit himself or herself against the unfamiliar and the unknown.
“Our lives are too controlled, too risk-free,” says Maggiari. “It’s an illusion. We need something that inflames us, that affirms life, that makes us move forward and charge. We need to be in touch with our instincts.”