A friend among friends: Don Vincenzo at San Pietro

2. A load of goodwill

The unique location of the monumental complex always raises a question full of curiosity among pilgrims: “Do you also go up on foot and carry all the material with you?”.

Yes! All volunteers, both young and old, climb the mountain on foot and their shoulders always bear backpacks full of materials, from food to smaller work tools and supplies. However, as Don Vincenzo was never tired of repeating, Providence never abandoned those who dedicated their time and labour to San Pietro.

Everything was ready on paper [Don Vincenzo recounts in his diary] and with the necessary authorisations, ‘we lacked the match to light the gas’. How to get all the material from the village to the mountain? […] However, a sudden and chance meeting with a colonel of the Air Force solved our problem.

It was 1975, and the restoration works on the entrance staircase had just begun. On July 7th, a military aviation helicopter began transporting all the necessary materials for the works: timber, bags of lime, the cement mixer, and much more. Materials arrived in Civate on small trucks provided by ICAM (a chocolate manufacturing company from Lecco). The children, who had rushed to see a helicopter so close for the first time, thought that what was being transported to the basilica were bags full of chocolate!

Meanwhile, the older boys were at San Pietro. That day was very special and meaningful for them and for the soldiers. Instead of being in the barracks or at the youth recreation centre, they were on the lawn of San Pietro, busy transporting the materials from the helicopter to the worksite.

They work hard and help with enthusiasm and willingness“, recalls Don Vincenzo.

Unfortunately, works and restoration works always require a lot of material, and the military helicopter was not always available. Transport costs were very high. The volunteers brought everything they could up to the mountain with sweat and effort, but it seemed like a drop in the ocean. A solution was needed and the construction of a cable car came up. It was 1978.

Once again Providence intervened. Someone, a friend of San Pietro, who was also aware of the difficulties, without the knowledge of the Association and Don Vincenzo, took all the necessary steps to obtain the permits for the installation of this new work.
Don Vincenzo went to the cement factory in Merone to ask for information on how to make a simple goods lift, where he met Mr Parravicini, who then put him in touch with his friends who made these goods lifts for forestry use. Therefore, with their help as well as the enthusiasm of Mr Parravicini and the help of the volunteers from Civate and Suello, the great work of the cableway was carried out, which was to be a valuable companion in the restoration of the abbey for many years to come.

How much effort this rudimentary cable car can save us!

In the following years, between 1982 and 1984, its starting point was then moved to a place with less environmental impact, almost disappearing from sight.

However, we do not want to forget the first great tireless friend and volunteer who, for many years before the advent of technology, quietly and with great effort brought so much material to San Pietro and also gave moments of joy to the visiting children: Don Vincenzo’s horse.