Italian town hires mystic to fight drought

A drought-ridden Italian town has contracted a mystic to search for groundwater with the help of a pendulum amid record-setting heat waves across Europe. 

Bajardo, a small town on the Ligurian coast with fewer than 350 people, promised to pay a man named Renato Labolani €300 ($297) to perform a “water survey with an agricultural psychic method,” according to the municipal contract.

Labolani practices dowsing – a method of detecting groundwater by using a forked stick, a rod or a pendulum. Most dowsers believe that they are picking up natural vibrations from the water underneath the soil. 

“I use a pendulum that tells me everything: where the water is, how much of it there is, how deep it is,” Labolani, who has 30 years of experience in the field, told newspaper Il Foglio on Tuesday.

“I ask the question: how much [water] is in this area? Five hundred liters, a thousand, three thousand? I walk as long as the pendulum is moving, and then it stops.”

EU drought ‘worst in 500 years’

Mayor Remo Moraglia told the paper he has faith in Labolani, but is ready to pay the city out of his own pocket if they don’t find a sufficient amount of water. 

“Two out of our five springs have been dry since May,” the mayor said, adding that Labolani has found water in the nearby town of Apricale in the past and has already located two sources of water in Bajardo. Engineers will study if wells can be dug in the places the dowser indicated, he added. 

“For now, it’s just a survey,” Moraglia said. “It’s like someone going to a doctor to be told whether he’s well or not.” 

Like the rest of Europe, Italy continues to be hit by exceptional heat waves this summer, with the Liguria region registering its longest period of heat in July.  

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