Milano, Montemarcello, Fontanellato – 13/14 July 2015
Milan makes it till Friday exhausted, compressed by a ball of heat and humidity that swells and swells and never finds relief. The average level of histeria in the city reaches a worrying degree, in some sort of premenstrual collective syndrome. Public transport is reduced to a bivouac shelter of unfriendly racist people who moan (key words imposed by the local news: machete, scabies, malaria, heat. Probably the same conversation topics between the boats in the Amazon river), the streets packed with compulsive horn honkers. The relief will come over the weekend, under the shape of abundant precipitations: perfect time to run away with the kids and test the van far from the city. On Saturday they release the results on Matia´s high school, when you pick him up at 13 he is a little bit upset, he has to do maths in September and he won´t count on your help since you got stuck somewhere around the 2 digits divisions. You point towards that small and narrow portion of earth between Ligure, Emilia and Tuscany, where the sun should be shining.
Two and a half hours later the Bear Volkswagen climbs up promontory Caprione with no efforts. You abandone it near the beginning of the footpath to the beach: 700 big steps made of stone and wood overcome the difference in altitude between the town and the beach. The route winds its way covered by a wood of Aleppo pine trees and holm oaks, and the kids walk through it with not even much complains. Actually as soon as the color blue appears at the end of the woods they twitch like crickets along the path. The last hundred steps you carry Maia on your shoulders (your knees will be thankful for the whole week) and you reach the most beautiful beach of Ligure, a stripe of black pebbles speckled with rocks. In the back you can see the mediterranean scrub climbing up the cliffs. The sea is rough, and delivers foamy waves, the girls shriek happily as they get overwhelmed, Mitia floats along with the water flow. It won´t be easy, at August, without this big-happy-blue-puddle called Mediterraneo…
You spend the night in a semi-abandoned campsite, a large grassy open area divided by rows of poplar trees. You make dinner for all and when the night comes down you take the kids to bed: the hike to the beach has defeated the descendants. Before you go to sleep you smoke a cigarette, thinking about the endless “to-do list”, which has become the life of many people now: but how can you survive when everything is priority?? What we usually do, more or less on purpose, is to start with the most threatening tasks, those that scream the most. We silence them and scroll down the list, getting closer to the most pleasant tasks, which are waiting for us confident and cheerful at the bottom. But there you are, someone starts shouting again in the back and we hurry to pacify it; the beautiful things can still wait a little bit. We don´t realize that by doing this we are contributing to a perverse mechanism by which those who shout the most will feel legitimate by our promptness to keep doing it, while the gentle ones who await with patience will slowly slip away. It seems grotesque, but maybe we should really strive to do first the nice stuff. Force ourselves to cut first the left finger nails, as some would say.
On Sunday morning the weather is different: the sky is hidden behind low clouds and a very light rain is washing the clothes of those who dare going out of the van. You quickly prepare breakfast, pack everything up and you all leave again. On board the Bear kicks off the game “I have nausea”. In order to seat on the front all three creatures report imaginary symptoms of carsickness. At the end wins Maia, who after being convoluted with the iphone´s playlist (an endless ping pong between this and this until exhaustion), falls asleep. The other two are snoring for a while. Nice companions , you think, in reality you are happy that you can get the control of the music back. Outside, the humid wooded hills of Lunigiana unwind.
At Parma West the sudden downturn wakes everybody up. “Where are we?“ yawns the older brother. “I´m taking you to a special place. Do you like labyrinths?” you answer while following the state road through yellow wheat fields towards Fontanellato. Don’t you get upset, mr FMR (for sure he is often reading you), but at first sight the complex of the Labyrinth della Masone pays back the abuse of the brick: the Esselunga effect is around the corner (maybe Caprotti could also try to dare more…). Once you enter thought, the labyrinth is marvelous, a forest of bamboo grows wild and essential up to hiding the sky. The house-museum is a surprise, holder of curious and perturbing works (you see the room with the vanitas close to the edge of splatter), fun and pleasant to follow. Then the exhibition about Ligabue, well: between leopard tonsils and self-portraits (in short, the usual repertoire) pops up in the room a delirious battle between Russians, bears, reindeers and wolves that seems Hugo Pratt (even Rasputin is there!). And finally the exhibition about the publications of FMR, all in strict Bodoni, including this one that you would like to hide under Maia´s t-shirt before walking confident towards the exit (“my daughter wears an orthopedic corset, you know… Oh yeah, now they do them all like this, square, they work better”). You get out just on time to catch buckets of rain in the 100 m between you and the car. At Lodi it feels like October, at Melegnano barrier, like November.
Back in the city, you catch Milan under the covers with a cup of hot tea and biscuits, happily padded with Moment® Rosa: finally, it´s raining.