Mice on trial, Archpriest Santoni
“At the beginning of 1600 Drena experienced the mice scourge. They scampered undisturbed in great numbers, decimating the harvests and damaging the peasants’ houses. All the ruses to fight them had been useless; being rather disposed to superstition, the population, frustrated, decided to resort to a drastic measure: a public trial against them.
The people, gathered together in front of the judges and the commissioner in charge, listened to the major’s accusation who reported the evildoing of those beasts with severe words. The major asked for an immediate “crida“, a decree to prohibit the rodents from causing more damage. The edict was written, approved and issued on the same day. The criers immediately combed the surrounding fields to communicate the decision of the municipal authorities to the culprits, that didn’t care about the warning and went on plundering the foodstuffs.
The reaction was tough. Another trial was established, and the rats were compulsorily asked to get a lawyer. During an enthusiastic closing statement, the Difensore Sorcino (mouse defender), officially appointed, bursted into a long list of his clients’ complaints, offended by the self-righteousness of the Drena population, who had expressed an in absentia sentence about their disobedience. Moreover, he stated that his clients had settled in the village cellars and barns with the only purpose of not starving to death. The mice only wanted to reach the woods and settle there to live alone and free, but between the mountains and the fields the furious creek called Salagone flowed.
Once heard the factions, the judge pronounced the longed-for sentence: the citizens had to commit in building a bridge to enable the rodents to reach the woods and leave the fields. The reconciled farmers put an end to the facts with a big party and a money collection the masters reluctantly took out from their empty pockets to fulfill the trial costs”.
In the mountains, every village and every valley has its own legends, passed down through generations. Drena, a little urban center close to the bikeway of the Garda Trek Top Loop forth leg, is not an exception to the rule, and this is an example.
Towns flooded in retribution, witches, forest spirits or – as in this case – more or less domestic animals become the protagonists of vivid moments of local history, a charming heritage ready to be discovered.