Island People – Alicudi – Teresa Perre

Teresa, as she hadmits it, is and will always be known as the “Alicudi Teacher”. She began to teach in the eighties in the tough, peripheral neighborhoods of her hometown, Milan. Those were the years and the place where the modern history of italian education was written.
When she asked to be transfered, as she were in love with the Aeolian Islands in Sicily, her first vow went to the Lipari municipality.
Chaos, or hazard, was tricky to her, changing her life forever. Now, Lipari municipality includes all the aeolian islands but Salina (which has three municipalities by itself – but that’s a different story, a very sicilian one). And since her ranking was the highest, she was given the island beginning with ‘A’: Alicudi. Blame it to the alphabetical order.
Teresa had never heard of Alicudi before – well hardly any tourist used to visit Alicudi back at that time (it hasn’t changed that much, by the way). She arrived on a July, 14, for the Bastille Day. When climbing up the only road made of lava steps, where men seldom outnumber donkeys, at some point she asked indications for the school to a massive man. The asnwer she got was: “S’accomadasse” (sicilian dialect for “please come in”). The school was there, in a room inside a house like all the others which, hopefully, was rented to tourists in summertime.

In the years, I believe that Alicudi’s school has had an average of 5 pupils, primary and secondary classes unified and mixed into a single one. But the school won an important battle: in 1997, a talented Lipari mayor (the same who made it to have the Aeolian Islands declared as the first UNESCO heritage natural site in the world…) could buy a wonderful aeolian house in order to make it the official school location. You know, I was at the school, I was there chatting with the kids about my voyage and about what an “island of plastic” is (which is not a place in the middle of the sea where you can walk on, as many sensationalist environmentalists love to say); and I think that beside being the smallest school in Europe it is the most beautiful in the world. With such an overwhelming view on the sister islands and sea, sea everywhere, unlimitedly.

Teresa, with eyes too smart for a face so marked by commitment, is a woman who traded her personal life for the defense of the right to education. This statement bears the echo of partisans, transoceanic emigration, distant love. Yet we are in the twentyfirst century, and it proves that there are still (plenty) of battles like this to be fought. Today, she’s done with her mission at the school. Or actually she would be done if they hadn’t called her back for yet another teacher quit the island after a few weeks or months.

What is extraordinay and moving is that a woman with such a cultural background and such a fine mind could decide to vow herself to a tiny geographical dot such as Alicudi, inhabited by 60 people at most from more than half of the year (among these, you can cross turtle eaters and water spout cutters), simple people for sure, but at the same time close-minded, cynical, who underwent too many farewells to be able to trust someone again. Such a tough yet amazingly wonderful place, where it’s very hard to find a personal balance. Whether you were born in the island or not. A place, though, where with the help of this huge and deafening natural beauty, and only if you’ve got a precise objective in life compatible with a remote place and loads of strength, it maybe be worth retiring to, accepting the apparent simplicity of the everyday life.

P.S.: Alberto Bougleux, a filmmaker (and sailor) in love with the Aeolian Islands, founder by the way of the Museo del Cinema di Stromboli, shot a few years ago a sublime yet very unfiltered documentary film about the school in Alicudi.
Here there is the trailer.

Posted on: 21.Apr.2018   Leave a comment

Island people – Marettimo – Davide Di Franco, Diletta Giannola

Guess what, I am not gonna go diving a little bit during my trip through such crazy places? And what’s better than doing it with people who actually chose the Island, leaving back a whole life to devote themselves to the Island?

Let me introduce you Davide Di Franco and Diletta Giannola, owners of Blu Tek Diving – Marettimo. Both form Palermo, him always fond of scuba diving, her former dancer of the Teatro Massimo in Palermo, a few years ago they decided to bet everything on their passion and love, mutual and for the sea. They chose Marettimo – unquestionably in the top 3, I dare say, of best diving destinations in Italy (and in the Mediterranean) for its underwater caves and unbelievable sceneries -, boat an old fishing boat named “El Merendero”, and the dream has come true. They even got married in Marettimo!

I can’t wait. Above and under water, take me discovering your island’s pearls of beauty…

Posted on: 22.Feb.2018   Leave a comment

Island People – Lipari – Loredana Salzano

This time, I really don’t know where to begin. Loredana is crazy!!! She answered enthusiastically as I contacted her for 33 Isole, and she guaranteed an authentic Lipari experience upon my arrival. I will go mad trying to keep her pace!

Look how she describes herself:
Multifaceted artist with a volcanic talent, she was born under the Vesuvius and moved to Lipari, where she has been living for over 10 years and owns a gallery/shop. Creative at 360°, she realizes material canvases, dreamlike watercolors, artistic ceramics, informal paintings, sculptures and jewelry with materials recovered especially from the sea.
She writes poetry and publishes a collection of poems entitled “Feral Islands.” Volcanoes are her main source of inspiration (hence the name “Our Volcanoes’ Lady”) leading to an ironic-poetic mix, suspended between art, thought and design.
From engaged canvases or extremely contemporary conceptual installations, she switches with the same enthusiasm to easy, funny, and original design pieces, centered around the theme Alice Attònita, that is, *”the only primordial Alice with contemporary troubles”, a character/message that becomes the expression of the human dichotomy between contemporariness and need to return to a “wonderfully simple” life.

Loreda’, I’m coming!

Posted on: 20.Jan.2018   Leave a comment

Island People – Capri – Nello Iaccarino, Christina Rookmaaker, Camilla Formisano

I’ve never been in Capri, scared by its stylish aura. But then… then I’m finding out loads of interesting guys, although so sociologically different from those I found in, say, Ustica or the Aeolian Islands.

Caprionline (https://www.caprionline.it), one of the first companies in Italy specialized in creating websites, is indeed based in Capri.
Nello, authentically Caprese (from Capri), founded it twenty years ago with a friend. Before, he used to be lifeguard, ice cream maker and keyboard player in a dark music band.
Then Christina and Camilla joined. As for Christina, some think she’s Indian, some Thai, some even Dutch. Yet despite the name and the exotic appearance, Christina is an (almost) authentic Caprese who decided to work and start a family in Capri.
Camilla, born and raised in Sorrento, like all “mainland” people always saw Capri as a distant and remote island – despite the hydrofoil only takes 20 minutes. After having become an adoptive Caprese, she returned to live on the mainland and travels every day to reach the office.

Despite the preconceptions, they tell me Capri is “a place that allows Bambi to grow up free surrounded by nature, sea, and woods”! We’ll talk about it in early may…

Posted on: 16.Jan.2018   Leave a comment

Island People – Filicudi – Monica Blasi

As for Filicudi, about 200 live there, the perfect example of an island that empties out from October onwards. I went once there at the beginning of June, just one day, from Palermo, with my mom. Some freediving around that surreal rock in the middle of the sea they called “La Canna” (the barrel) and away we go. Amazing beauty.

A girl from Rome lives in Filicudi, Monica Blasi. PhD in biophysics, driven by at least a couple of passions, one of which for the protection of the marine environment, she moved there in 2004. She founded and still manages the Filicudi Wildlife Conservation association. She does research, serious research, on cetaceans and turtles, funding herself with the summer research camps she organizes and some private donation. Among other things, she can – the only one in the world! – mediate between authorities and locals, especially fishermen, whose interests are always, but only apparently, opposite.

To me, she’s a myth. Hey myth, are we gonna have a chat at the end of April on your island?

Posted on: 13.Jan.2018   Leave a comment