#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

#26 Linosa – Departure

What should I write about Linosa… Perhaps the most authentic one, the best to stand against mass tourism, welcoming tourists instead of robbing them in such an impersonal way as it happens in so many other places.

In Linosa it is difficult to arrive, you can’t find a more remote island in Italy. Therefore who comes here does it with total awareness and a fully open spirit, ready to discover an island that is not just beautiful landscapes or crystal-clear sea, but most of all unforgettable people.

And me, I met so many wonderful people in those that were supposed to be three days and eventually became eight because of Mistral. Everything started with Claudia, Giovanni and Francesca of Terraferma Diving, one of the best diving centers I’ve known, a diving center that is also the cultural center of Linosa – which is even more awesome considering that hardly ever in Italy diving rhymes with culture. A cultural center where welcoming is the first rule, and the second is sharing: the pillars of the Mediterranean spirit. I don’t know how to thank you guys, and by the way this is not the right place to do it.

The diving center is called Terraferma because the friendship among its members was born on the set of Terraferma, Emanuele Crialese’s film that was shot a handful of years ago right here in Linosa, a masterpiece. And who did I meet and interview? Of course Emanuele Crialese himself, a sweet man, full of poetry and sensitivity. It was a great privilege and a great source of inspiration to meet you, Emanuele. Thank you too for opening up and understanding it all straight away.

Then an amazing man and an impressive professional, Claudio Palmisano, a photographer who for six months a year lives here in a house he turned into a small photo studio. Among a thousand other things, Claudio studied a method to create underwater panoramic photographic compositions that render the grandiosity of Linosa underwater landscapes. In a world where post-production mostly takes away the picture from reality, in a quest for sensationalism, Claudio works in the opposite way: post-production serves to approach reality in the best possible way. And these seascapes are the obvious evidence. I beg you to take a look at them, following this link. Your sushi, your pizza, your fun, Claudio: unforgettable indeed…

Then there was Michele, who apart from kneading the bread for the only bakery every night, brought the cows back to Linosa with great passion. Here, 25 years ago, there were more than 500 cows; until stupid European laws, distant and careless of isolated and remote realities such as this, imposed their elimination. But Michele is trying again for personal use of course. Two anecdotes: cows eat cactus leaves, which here are used to delimit the land, and ricotta is made using sea water.

And finally Piero Zambuto, a sculptor who draws inspiration from the immense energy of Linosa, who also opened to us the doors of his world, made of research of the perfect shape, between female nude and poetry of stone and wood.

Now heading to Ortigia, first of the two atypical islands (the other one is Gallipoli), 150 miles away with the creepy silhouette of the least Mediterranean island, Malta, in between. But the spirit of Linosa will stay in my mind for so long still…

 

Posted on: 25.Jul.2018 Leave a comment

#9 Capri – Contemporary art

Liquid art system: the contemporary art gallery in Capri owned by Franco Senesi. A fascinating man trying to feed the huge cultural heritage of the island, perhaps the greatest among all the minor islands in Italy, and for sure the one who has almost always been at the top since the ancient Greek era.

 

Posted on: 11.May.2018   Leave a comment

#6bis Salina – The project of the movie theater

There are worse things in life than being stuck in Salina, Aeolian Islands, for a few days waiting for the wind to calm down.
Even more when Clara Rametta, Mayor of Malfa (one of the three municipalities in Salina) and, more importantly, yet another great woman, hosted me and the crew at her Hotel Signum.

Now, there are no words to define this hotel that is in fact a luxury one. It actually is an apparently simple concentrate of aeolian hospitality where every detail is studied with a taste of beauty that embodies the Sicily of my dreams. A place I would never have been able to afford, but that 33 Isole made possible.

Furthermore, Clara has a vision: opening the first cinema in the Aeolian Islands. The place, the project, the dream already exist. Here you can help making it come true: http://www.palazzomarchetti.it/

Thank you from the bottom of the heart, Clara, I won’t forget…

 

Posted on: 3.May.2018   Leave a comment