1 EAGLETON NOTES: Locks of Love

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Friday, 21 June 2013

Locks of Love

When I was in Italy last year I visited and posted about the Cinque Terre in Liguria.  What I did not post at that time was the practice whereby couples place locks with their names on in the belief that whilst the locks stay locked their names will also be linked in love.  

Until the last century the Cinque Terre towns were extremely isolated and the townspeople rarely married anyone from outside their own town. After the blasting of the second train line in the 1920s, a trail was made between the first two towns: Riomaggiore and Manarola. A gunpowder warehouse was built along the way, safely away from the townspeople. (That building is today’s Bar dell’Amore mentioned in my post.)

Constant landslides kept the trail closed more often than it was open. After World War II, the trail was reopened, and became established as a lovers’ meeting point for boys and girls from the two towns. (After one extended closure in 1949, the trail was reopened for a Christmas marriage.). A journalist, who noticed all the amorous graffiti along the path, coined the trail’s now-established name, Via dell’Amore: “Pathway of Love.”

This new pathway changed the social dynamics between the two villages and made life much more fun and interesting for courting couples. Today, many tourists are put off by the cluttered graffiti that lines the trail but it’s all part of the history of the Cinque Terre’s little lovers’ lane.

You’ll see a cluster of padlocks under the tunnel, on the Manarola side. Closing a padlock with your lover onto a cable or railing at a 'love place'—often a bridge—is the current craze in Italy, having been re-popularized by a teen novel.  

Now, it seems, that craze is taking hold in Scotland and I discovered locks on the bridge between the centre of Pitlochry and the town's Little Theatre. 

The Lovers - the symbol of the Via dell'Amore
Locks on the safety railings 
A lock inscribed with names on the bridge at Pitlochry

18 comments:

  1. A quaint tradition indeed....

    My father was one of the engineers that built the Pitlochry Dam which I suspect is n your last photo. He married a local lass in 1951. And now they live here in Christchurch, near me.

    Tried to post on your last blog post twice - not sure if i succeeded in the end - but trying again on this :)

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    1. Gosh Fiona it is such a small world. Yes. That is the dam in the background. You did succeed on the last post and I have just posted a reply.

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  2. Is the middle picture from Italy or Scotland? I wonder what they do if they split up - go back and unlock? (Silly me. If the saying is true, I suppose there won't be any need...)

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    1. Monica the middle picture is in Italy. I suppose that if the locks are unlocked it would follow that the love could be broken. Hmmm.

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  3. Oh my goodness, that's a very sweet tradition. I imagine it could take hold here if the young ones ever found out about it.
    Lovers do engrave their names encircled with hearts into large agave plants that grow on the island.
    At least it's better than the sneakers being thrown over the utility wires in every district back in the 90's.

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    1. There you are Virginia you could write an article in the local paper and get a new tradition started. The lock sellers would be delighted.

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  4. I am the first person to say how I love things, but this...I think it looks messy and like graffiti. What do you think?

    By the way, I just did a post about New Zealand even though I don't know the first thing about it! ;-)

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    1. In a way, Kay, it is graffiti and that is part of the history of the Via dell'Amore. Many tourists (and for much of the year that path is completely blocked by thousands of tourists every week - to the extent that they have to be 'rationed' by ticket at peak times) do find the graffiti and so on offensive. If I were a local I think I would find the crowds more of a problem than the graffiti but they bring in much needed money to the region.

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  5. interesting tradition! no different than a pair carving a heart into a tree with their initials inside it, just a lot more congregated in one spot.

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    1. Absolutely right Norma: just a variation on a theme.

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  6. It's been going on for many years here in Germany. One of the main bridges across the Rhine in Cologne has become a tourist attraction because of the locks. There are warning signs everywhere, people are not supposed to be putting any more locks on the bridge, as it is seriously becoming too heavy with all the extra metal added to it.

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    1. Meike, I'd never heard of it before I saw it in Italy and have never seen nor heard of it in Britain before.

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  7. Forgot to say... I saw this somewhere else recently. I just found that post again, and it was from Saltaire in England

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    1. With people travelling so much these days it only takes one person to see and copy and a craze spreads everywhere.

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    2. They don't even have to travel, GB. They can find it on the Internet and start it up where they live so an idea like this can spread anywhere in the world in a very short time.

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  8. Of course, I love that idea!

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    1. Lisa perhaps you could start the craze in your neck of the woods!

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  9. Starting to catch up with your posts. This one is fascinating and i love the idea of jointly doing a padlock.

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