Into the wild: Sports in Open Space @Marsaglia

Gabriella Poggi is part of the staff of Sports in Open Space, the outdoor sports center based in Marsaglia. Kayak, rafting, canyoning and nomad camps are all part of the offer of this base camp located on the river banks of the Trebbia.  In this short interview  Gabriella explains how the project was born and what are the main challenges Val Trebbia must face these days. 

1.  How and when was Sports in Open Space born?

The project was born between 1997-1998. We were young and adventurous and did not really think about it much… the technical part linked to the sport activities was not new for us, so we only had to put some thought into the bureaucratic side of the project and then… we took off!

2. Do the members of Sports in Open Space’s staff come from Val Trebbia or elsewhere?

We all come from other areas, precisely from the Milan area.

3.  How did the locals welcome your initiative and do you think you are more popular now, after some years of work in Marsaglia?

i must say that, although we are located in a mountain area, which is typically quite closed and skeptical towards new things, we felt really welcome straight away. Unfortunately though, things have changed for the worst in recent years: there is an increasingly unhappy atmosphere in Marsaglia and it looks like the council authorities are not able to provide any good solution. Of course we live in a place without big economic resources, but…

Flowing away: kayaks floating on the turquoise waters of river Trebbia.

4. What role do the Internet and new media play in your daily work?

A crucial and extremely important role.

5. Who are your guests?

People living in the city but not just them. Our guests mainly come from the areas around Piacenza, Milano, Genoa, Lodi Brescia, Bergamo, Pavia, Alessandria, Parma, Reggio, Bologna and even from further away. such as from Tuscany or Veneto…a few come from abroad, in particolar from Germany and the U.S.  The most popular activities are kayak canyoning.

6. What’s the role of river Trebbia and the landscapes of Val Trebbia in your activities?

The river is a vital part of our activity.

7.  Sports in Open Space is surely a perfect way to make Val Trebbia known in the rest of Italy and abroad: what do visitors think of the valley?

They think it is a beautiful valley inhabited by people that don’t really love it, people who don’t respect it and don’t wish it may be known outside of the local area. They complain of the lack of attention towards tourists, the lack of services and the high price of food and accommodation.

Taming the rapids: rafting is one of the activites offered by Sports in Open Space.

8. Have you ever considered offering special activities for local schools?

Yes, and we did so already. But with not much success so far. Nevertheless we persevere, although it’s a hard way to go!

9. What will the future hold for Val Trebbia?

Nothing good, unless we start thinking of a sustainable project on the long term, a project based on the landscape. The landscape of Val Trebbia is a natural outdoor training area, with the potential of attracting cultured tourists who want to live nature at its best and who are willing to respect it.

Images courtesy of

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