People

A story of rock climbing and yoga around the Amalfi Coast

Cristiano Bacci, born in Venice, reveals how his life took a different path when he moved to the Amalfi Coast and how climbing and yoga changed everything.

By Antonella Florio

«I think that living here in the Selva can be compared to living on a sailboat. Every day, you have to face small but endless challenges and be able to find a solution to solve them on your own». These are the words that Cristiano Bacci, born in 1967, choose to describe his life here. We are in Montepertuso, a little village near Positano at 350 m above sea level where Cristiano lives. Every morning he wakes up early following the rhythm of the nature surrounding him, in a house that it’s his source of inspiration. After completing the morning yoga routine, Bacci starts working on what’s more urgent that day: it could be the kitchen garden one morning or trimming the trees around the climbing routes the next, and Bacci always makes sure to do a quick stop to see how his bees are doing. He chats with us while his hands are occupied fixing a faulty facet and looking at him, you cannot picture him anywhere else, but then his accent from the North of Italy betrays him.

Moving to the coast

Cristiano and his partner Marta arrived here in Montepertuso, driving their traveling van after leaving Venice in 2002. At that time, Marta performed on stage in Venice and around Europe as a contemporary dancer, while Cristiano worked as a real estate agent after graduating in Law. The burning passion for climbing pushed him to leave all behind and to create his first climbing route on the coast with some friends. «For us, the Amalfi coast was the perfect mix of the great climbing rocks, the seaside, and beautiful rich nature all around. For a long time, Marta and I talked about moving to the countryside in southern Italy. We wanted to be surrounded by this great weather and good people. Selva in Montepertuso is the place we were looking for».

Selva Positano

«In 2002, the Selva was just an abandoned old building used as an animal barn. I’ll admit we had no idea about all the hard work, the struggle, and the fatigue we would have to go through to tame this wild and challenging land». It was no coincidence actually that the locals used to refer to this place as a Rind a Selva (inside the forest) to highlight its insidious nature; today. However, Selva is a magical place that can be accessed only by foot, where nature and culture create the perfect balance. «With time, our family grew: we have two kids, Bianca (19) and Jacopo (11), the oldest is now studying political science in Padova. But our little clan is also composed of our all-female animals: five dogs, four cats, two donkeys, and various chickens».

400 climbing routes all around the coast

Creating the routes for climbing along the coast required years and lots of strength: in 2005 and 2006, Cristiano and his climbing friends from Piedmont and Veneto dedicated their time only to equip new climbing routes. The encounter with Francesco Galasso, a young man full of passion and willingness to learn, allowed him to discover even more trails around the Amalfi Coast. «Francesco is a friend who loves climbing deeply, and I’m happy to see how he grew during the years. Today he is the CEO of @Direzione Verticale, an organization dedicated to hiking, climbing, and everything that revolves around the wildlife in the Amalfi Coast and the Sorrento Peninsula». Cristiano equipped 400 different routes, and he reveals that some of them are more precious to him than others. «Every route is special and tells a story; some are about my friends, and others are more linked to particular occurrences. I have to admit, though, that two routes are closer to my heart: the first one is BLUE, the multi-pitch route in Punta Campanella, one of the most magical places on the coast, in my opinion. The Romans and the Greeks knew this place as Capo Ateneo. I think it resembles the prow of a ship». Cristiano tells us, still using nautical images. «Thanks to this route, you can climb to the highest point of this amazing cliff made by white rocks having the deep blue sea right behind you». The second itinerary that he cherishes is God’s path. «It is the last one we created, but I think it is the most breathtaking if we talk about the view. People from all around the world come to the Amalfi Coast to see our cliffs».

Cristiano Bacci while practicing yoga, courtesy of La Selva Positano Cosmetici Naturali

Bringing Yoga to the Amalfi Coast

It looks like Cristiano has a strong appreciation for all the practices that connect body and mind, and this could be the reason why he brought yoga, his other big passion, to the Amalfi Coast. Following what happened with climbing, Cristiano became a trailblazer opening a door for this area’s discipline. «After going to India, we decided to host a training course here at Selva in 2006; we had important personalities teaching classes such as Walter Tirak Ruta from the Pramiti school in Ventimiglia and student of Satchidananda Yogi of Madras. From that moment, various international teachers came here, which turned us into one of the centers of inspiration for those who pursue this discipline. This is how yoga became the most important part of Selva».  Meanwhile, even Marta, Cristiano’s partner, lets herself be inspired by the smells, flavors, and scents of the Mediterranean scrub and creates the line of natural aromatherapy cosmetics @ La Selva Positano. It is a cosmetics line with a strong territorial connotation: ointments, soaps, essential oils based on myrtle, rosemary, and citrus fruits that act both physically and on the subtle/emotional level.

The man he is today

Today Cristiano is a tall and slim man with deep eyes and a calm demeanor that seems to have found the perfect balance between himself and nature. «Probably the biggest challenge is to be able to live in harmony with nature without being enslaved by it, but I can honestly say that moving here in the Selva was healing to me. But my family and I still like to travel a lot, we’ve been to India, Africa and around Europe. When we have the opportunity, we prefer to move with the van», he explains to us. Ultimately, this place, the discipline of yoga and climbing, made Cristiano who he is today. «For me, yoga isn’t just a healthy practice. It is a lifestyle. I am happy that I moved here 20 years ago because this place and meditation help me every day. All of this guides me as I try to reach a new level of conscience in the journey of bettering myself».

For information:

La Selva Positano Cosmetici Naturali:  yoga classes and beauty products, laselvacosmetici.com; tel. +39.348.7239692

Direzione Verticale:  rock climbing, direzioneverticale.it, info@direzioneverticale.it, tel.+39.338.7279878

 

(Translation by Michela Pandolfi)

 

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