The Winged Dragon of Vaia

Martalar’s handiwork stands guard as the wounded mountain heals

When the storm hits, all you can do is wait it out. Then, afterwards, you have your chance to react. Marco Martalar, an internationally renowned artist who works with wood, reacted by creating an unforgettable work of art: the Magré Dragon. What Vaia destroyed Marco gave new life to through his art. It goes to show that when talent, wisdom and empathy come together, Nature can be reborn from the ashes with beauty and dignity.

The Vaia Dragon, in Alpe Cimbra

The Dragon

The Winged Dragon of Magré, a district of the municipality of Lavarone, is the world’s largest wooden Dragon. Its construction required months of work, 3,000 screws and 2,000 pieces of wooden debris, including some from the Avez del Prinzep, the 244-year-old silver fir which was the tallest in Europe until it was torn down by the raging storm. The Dragon, with its towering height of 6 metres and a length of 7 metres, seems to have flown straight out of some all-time classic fantasy film. The remarkable nature of this work of art is only enhanced by its impermanence: having been made from untreated wood, it is destined to gradually disappear as time, snow and wind take their toll on it. A Dragon that will return to nature itself.

It is now possible to visit the Dragon on the top of the Tablat where it sits. It can be reached from the district of Slaghenaufi by following the directions for the Chalet Tana Incantata, where you can leave your car before continuing on foot to the district of Magré, or taking the chairlift.

The Vaia Dragon, in Alpe Cimbra

Storm Adrian (Vaia)

On 29 October 2018, a hurricane-force wind that reached speeds in excess of 200 km/h in Trentino left scars across our mountains. This extreme weather event, which originated in the Atlantic, flattened millions of trees, destroying tens of thousands of hectares of Alpine forest. In Europe, the storm was named after Vaia Jakobs, the manager of a multinational German company. Her name has been immortalised in this way thanks to her brother Skouras, who had an original idea for a Christmas gift in 2017: he submitted her name to the Meteorology Institute at the University of Berlin to be assigned randomly to a specific event. A gesture of love which ultimately backfired: after all, the name Vaia stands for peace, not destruction, with the meaning of “palm leaves”, like those the crowd waved to welcome Jesus upon his return to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

 

The Vaia Dragon, in Alpe Cimbra

Marco

In 2020, Marco Martalar gathered up 1,500 pieces of broken branches and roots torn out by Vaia in Mezzaselva di Roana in the Sette Comuni, where he lives, and used them to create the Winged Lion of Vaia. At a height of 3 metres and a length of 4.5 metres, it is the largest Winged Lion in the world as well as a symbol of the courage and life force of the mountain dwellers.

Exactly one year later, Marco went to work again, this time in Magré on the Lavarone Plateau, to once more show support, solidarity and encouragement for another mountain undergoing the slow and difficult process of rebirth. The result is a masterful work of art, a symbol of resilience and courage. A symbol of fertility and protection from the most fearsome events: the Winged Dragon.

The Vaia Dragon, in Alpe Cimbra

Lavarone Green Land

The Vaia Dragon is just the first step in a wider project undertaken by the Municipality of Lavarone to upgrade 4 themed trails: the Trail of Legends, with Avi, the Avez del Prinzep and the Vaia Dragon; the Trail of Springs, on the hunt for water; the Into the Woods Trail, with Avi the explorer and the animals; and the Breath of the Trees Trail. The project is intended above all to appeal to families who wish to nurture a love for nature, the land and the mountains through fairytales and legends.

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Published on 07/12/2021