#30 Grado – Departure

I already wrote much about Grado. My emotional introduction to the lagoon; Gianni Maran: artist who’s one of the most generous and talented persons I’ve ever met; an island, Grado, which is also a border to the Balkans, and which struggles as many others do to defend its identity against the jaws of tourism and modernity.

Time to set sail again, now. For the very last time. Another lagoon ahead, the Venetian one. I guess that for a moment it will resemble Itaca to me, or as more poetically the Greeks call it, Ithakí.

 


Posted on: 22.Aug.2018   Leave a comment

#30 Grado – Gianni’s fish

In Grado I met another special guy. Gianni Maran  is a staggering, profound, all-round artist who never takes himself too seriously (take a look at his website). But above all he’s a friend, capable of an extraordinary welcome to a perfect stranger like me who calls him from the sea only a few hours before arriving.

And then it becomes evident, once again, that in the North (this is the northernmost point of my journey) as well as in the South (well, I let you guess what the most southern point I have touched is), islands are the places of hospitality. Forever and ever.

 


Posted on: 21.Aug.2018   Leave a comment

#28 Gallipoli – Departure

In Ortigia as well as in Gallipoli the natives use the word “rock” to indicate their island, just like the people from all the remote islands I have been so far do.

That said, Gallipoli, which in Greek means “beautiful city”, is an insanely beautiful place. A city that for at least 300 years ago was the equivalent of Dubai today for the almost monopoly throughout Europe of glaring oil (the one used for lighting), which lit the streets from London to Oslo. And since the boundaries of the island are unchangeable, and building beyond the short bridge was banned until a hundred years ago, up to 34 underground mills were digged where oil was produced. 34! Another fact: in Gallipoli there are no squares, you could not waste the little existing space! And finally in Gallipoli they don’t traditionally dance the “pizzica”, which represents the countryside essence of Salento, Gallipoli’s region: they preferred Neapolitan style songs sort of.

I met unforgettable and particularly enriching people here. The Circolo della Vela Gallipoli (Gallipoli Sailing Club), to start with, namely Massimoand Glauco, who took care of Maribelle and made me feel like a real sailor (which I am not).

Then the meeting with two special guys, Enrico and Renato of the Association EMYS, who gave life to a magical place struggling against monstruos touristic interests: the urban laboratory Liberalarte Gallipoli. In a former monastic cloister, hidden behind a door on the ramparts of the city, lies a container of art, crafts, innovation and tradition where you can visit an exhibition of tactile paintings (i.e. you are invited to touch them!), you can dive among whales and turtles with virtual reality glasses (the kids’ favorite) or listen to the sounds associated with the thousand traditions of the town organized according to the four seasons.

And then the incredible, volcanic and sweet Raffaela, an architect born in Milan but with blood from here, cultural manager of Castello di Gallipoli(Gallipoli’s Castle). Another incredible place that until 2014 was nothing less than a dump and that thanks to Raffaela and her collaborators has become the cultural pole of the city, with exhibitions (riht now a very clever one about selfies called #selfati) and events (yoga sessions, thematic nights, concerts) that stubbornly try to bring tourists, whose cultural level is here unfortunately quite low (Gallipoli in recent years has become the Italian Ibiza), to the world of culture .

In a few islands, indeed, I have found such an attachment to the “rock”, its traditions and its identity as I did in Gallipoli.

It’s even harder this morning to leave this place which already a huge place in my heart for past personal facts. In addition, in front of me stands (or should I say lies) the longest leg, until Tremiti islands: the forecast states very little and always opposite winds and extreme heat; besides, I will enter yet another sea, the Adriatic Sea, different, unique. With the shadow of Venice that looms from the North, the historical shadow of the former almighty marine empire and the personal shadow it being the arrival island of this crazy journey of mine…

 


Posted on: 6.Aug.2018   Leave a comment

#27 Ortigia – Departure

Ortigia is Siracusa’s downtown. While getting there, although no one notices it, you cross a 30 m-long bridge. Which undoubtedly makes Ortigia an island.

Ortigia is also the history of Siracusa. It was the most important Greek colony of all to the point that it won against its Greek “parents” in a historic war hundreds of years before christ. And the colony was born in Ortigia and not on the mainland.

By including it on my itinerary, I was wondering how much of an island Ortigia is today, and how much its inhabitants feel its island essence. Once again, two days are too few to understand this, but I had some clear proofs that a sense of insularity exists here too. They came from Massimo’s visible emotion when he was telling us about its daily crossing of the bridge to go to work to create charming jewels, some of which inspired directly by Ortigia’s Greek history. Or from the stories about the small town lifestyle from a late “ortigiana”, Tiziana, of the Enoteca “a putia” delle cose buone (where food is awesome and the atmosphere impressively nice).

I mean, there’d be a lot to say and investigate. But it’s not my purpose right now. All I know is that Ortigia is one of Italy’s most beautiful places, Piazza Minerva is in my opinion (and according to Emanuele Crialese too) the most beautiful square in Italy, but the cost of an apartment at the square meter is around 10 thousand euros, and so this balance already partially destabilized by an exorbitant amount of tourists is fragile and put at risk day by day. I wish there were more people like Paola, owner of a lovely B&B, a cozy woman, with so much desire to share and totally devoted to her Ortigia. Thank you so much, Paola…

Anyway. Now I set sail towards another atypical island, the historic centre of Gallipoli. To reach it, the longest leg so far awaits me: 240 miles of Ionian Sea.

 

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#19 Sant’Antioco – Departure

About to leave to Carloforte, just in front of this place, a few miles away.

In Sant’Antioco there are two totally different municipalities: Sant’Antioco and Calasetta. In Sant’Antioco we met some truly special people, Barbara and Simona from Cooperativa Sociale Le Api, which has nothing to do with honey! These girls and their colleagues work on the education of disabled people, with a really human approach. Furthermore, the province of Sulcis Iglesiente, to which Sant’Antioco belongs, is the poorest province in Italy and one with a way higher percentage of genetical diseases than the world average, clearly – I say that – because of the presence of mines and heavy factories since decades now. Yet these guys are fighting and made it to create such an activity that works nicely for both the “patients” and the employees, who are paid for their job and happy.
As a side project, the Associazione Le Rondini “NEW” just equipped the first beach in Sardinia where people with serious motion diseases can even “swim” in the sea!

In Calasetta, on the other hand, I will meet on Saturday the guys from the Fondazione MACC, an incredible contemporary arts museum for such a small place as Calasetta. An artist from Chile and one from Sardinia are secretly preparing a live performance in between geology, weaving, and music…

Posted on: 20.Jun.2018   Leave a comment