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Once upon a time there was a tavern where we used to raise a glass or two…

Tea drinking in a tavern

Once upon a time, as I was standing outside a pub on the quays  of the Liffey chatting with two young volunteers about life’s opportunities, an Irish man spoke to us and he gave  us a lesson that I’ll never forget. And I am sure the two young friends will never forget it as well.

 

I don’t remember the name neither the face of that man but I remember what he said. He spoke with tears in his eyes, because of the many beers he had but also because what he said was coming from the deep of his heart; the heart of a man going through hard times, that doesn’t want to see someone else going trough the same.

To make it short and simple he said that if you want to achieve something in your life, the best time to do it is when everything seems to fall apart.

It is only then that you can show to the world that, forgive my French, you’ve got balls and it is only during hard times that you take out the best you have.

It might sound a bit rude but what he was saying is absolutely true.

When is not easy to find a job because of the recession is the right time to think: OK, what am I able to do? Which are my skills? What would I like to be?

Sometimes you must leave what you’ve just found

You don’t always have to make compromises or submit yourself to stupid standard rules coming from above. You are almost free.

You can try. You’ve got nothing  to lose.

If you try you might either fail  or succeed.

When you think that in your life something is missing, or even worse, that everything is going in the wrong way, that’s the time to make some changes.

I might turn out well or not, you can always step back or try something else.

The last few months of my life went by quickly as it always happens when you experience a few changes in your life.

I went trough hard times and I had my moments of glory, I tried to settle down then I left again, I found sincere love and friendships, I laughed and I cried like a child, sometimes happy, sometimes sad.

Once again I left everything I knew for something that is becoming part of me.

The unknown or the unpredictable.

Well, in fact I can say now that I know a bit of Ireland after all the time I lived here.

Did you know there are monkeys in Ireland?

However I came back to Ireland with the dream of doing something unusual for this country and I worked for a month in a Monkey Sanctuary.

In Ireland!

Until the cold winter and the Dublin craic got me here again. Dublin fair city.

I can consider myself happy for a few things I am achieving, or trying to achieve.

I spent days, hours, fixing an old useless PC, bringing it back to life (that’s why I can now write again on my blog). It has been hard and I have been very close to throw it out of the window many times. I was even thinking to make a video for youtube like those people who completely  lose it and destroy their office for the happiness of youtuboholics.

Maria and the immaculate misconception of the "Fotonovela"

But I have a lot of patience and I won.

With some friends we are writing a script for an old fashion “Fotonovela” and since we  started I’m enjoying every moment of it. As good almost-Irish-like we take it easy and not to seriously so it might take months before we’ll be able to publish it. But the ideas are there, it’s just a matter of time.

With my flatmate and Japanese teacher Haruka at Bull Island.

I started to learn Japanese with the help of my friend/flatmate Haruka and according to her I am a good student. Everyone told me it is impossible to learn Japanese but I am stubborn and I believe that nothing is impossible if you really want it. So I study, I watch anime and Kurosawa and I talk to myself in Japanese.

I started once again to host people with Couchsurfing and I met some of the best people ever. This is the prove that in life you always make the best encounters when you less expect it.

I have now some new great friends and I’ve learned a good deal from them despite they are younger than me. That proves that age and wisdom are not necessarily connected.

Thanks to Emilie, one of the latest couchurfers I’ve hosted and one of the most beautiful persons I know, I tried yoga and despite my old knee complains I loved it and I will keep practicing it. I will have a chat with my knee…I am sure he’ll understand!

With Erika, another CS friend, I felt like a tourist guide for a day and I loved it. It’s such a great feeling to rediscover the place where you live trough someone else eyes. And she sang her beautiful songs for us in the living room. Singing your songs in my living room might bring you good luck, that’s what happened with Nathalie.

Checking out the aliens signs on the sand with Leo’

Then there is the “Little marchand de fruit” Leo’, former CS guest, now neighbor and best friend.

Yesterday I took her (or she took me) and other friends to the Celt because I wanted them to hear from Betty’s beautiful voice the song “Those were the days”.

I heard that song so many times that I should had known the lyrics by heart by now, but I’ve never managed to find out who wrote it and what was the title.

You know…when you sing because you are drunk the day after you also forget things because you were drunk…

Until 3 days ago I google the lyrics I remembered (or so I thought) and I found the song I’ve been looking for during the last 6 years.

Now…the lyrics are a bit nostalgic but what I like of that song is that “those days” can be “these days” meaning that even if time passes by we always must have something to achieve, because either you can get old (and then remember the old times) or you can get old “trying”.

And is only when you try hard that you really live the life.

Like in that song one day you might meet your old friend in a tavern after many years and still have the same dreams, which means you didn’t manage to achieve them.

There are a lot of things going on in the world right now, so many and dramatic events that my life’s little changes are invisible compared to them.

I think that this is for me one of the strangest times since many years for what is going on around, starting from the revolts in Northern Africa to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan with all  the consequent risks of a nuclear accident, from the economic recession still far to be over (especially in Ireland) to the disgraceful situation of the Italian politic and their supporters (no offense for real politicians and real people of other countries).

I obviously think about all these things with a feeling of sadness having friends involved in all of it.

My thoughts go often to them and their families, friends, countries and, as I have these feelings, I keep thinking that this are those days and maybe it’s about time to take out the best I have inside and put in practice the lesson that that Irish man gave to me once upon a time.

As I’ve said many times before I don’t want to change the world all at once but I can start with little things and so should everyone.

Like a friend said “The sun woke up early this morning”

And so did I with a different energy.

Yes! I’ve got balls!

Well…

Dun Laoghaire, Ireland

Would you ever had guessed it was going to end like this?

I can imagine your disappointment, at least of those who’ve been following me since I started this…well…you can try to imagine my disappointment…even if at this stage I got over it and I accepted it.

Anyway…from here starts a different kind of walk…

I believed in this adventure, maybe too much, but if I’d never tried I’d never know how it could have been.

During the 3-4 weeks following the forced break from my walk, due to lack of founding and to the total absence of news of the money I was expecting from my previous life in Ireland, I kept going on to believe in my plan.

I kept saying to myself…you’ll see, something will happen…you’ll see that at least one of the emails you sent will find the pity of someone who will give you a further sponsorship, you’ll see that your cash will come from Ireland, despite the crisis…of course not…nothing happened…

When the 4th week began, the dream of going till the end with my plan faded away until it vanished completely…

Maybe I should had done more, perhaps I could have organised an event to raise founds, or maybe I could have searched a different way to find a sponsorship than what I was doing, no doubts about it.

But if i didn’t do it, it means it is all right so…

It’s been hard!

For those who remember of the time I went to Australia trying to live there and I had to come back after two months with the tail between the legs because of the very restrictive bureaucracy, well…that was something similar to this, with the difference that now I don’t have to come back, I am already here.

It’s been hard to stop walking after 1 month, to get used to wake up in the same bed every day after I slept in so many different places for that long, not to have the horizon waiting for me to reach it before sunset…to always meet the same people every day, instead of perfect strangers..to look out of the window and see the same landscape.

Even if I was on the road for only a month, I think I had an idea now of the meaning of travelling by foot.

It’s a completely different thing, another way of travelling, it’s like reading a great book, page by page with the curiosity to know how it ends, and after a while it becomes hard to stop reading.

It’s like looking out of a trains window, moving in slow motion, the picture passes by really slowly and there is the time to catch every shade, we can see what usually escapes from our eyes when we drive fast and we lean out to see better until a tree or a hill hides what we were looking at, and then we can only imagine it…when you walk you don’t need to imagine it, it’s all there in front of you.

Walking gives you the chance to appreciate the beauty of nature in every small detail, to chat up with strangers you meet along the way, to hear your steps that lead you somewhere, thing that we don’t even notice any more since we became motorized…who ever listen to his own steps?

Smells, flower’s scent, the noise of the insects buzzing in the fields, barking dogs…but also the noise of trucks darting beside you on the main road, the hammering of excavators when you walk beside a mine, the smog of jammed roads, the mud you get splashed with by cars after a downpour…

Indescribable sensations, you gotta try it to understand it…

I was saying above that it has been hard to quit walking, as it was hard to give up Australia, but maybe not that hard…

As I gave up a walk, I started many others that helped me out in this moment of disappointment.

Tight spot

I kept walking between mountains and countryside to hold on that feeling I gained during my trip, with the company of my brother, my niece, the dog and other friends at times.

I started regularly to practise speleology, something I gave up when I moved to Ireland, and I took part in every single expedition we organised for the Speleo-Course during the last month.

With old and new friends I completely dived myself in one of the activities that gave me so much satisfaction in the past, and with some of them I started to discover and explore new worlds, like botanic or searching for fossils in caves.

The next mission is will be gold searching with a pan into a river!

We also planned some guided tour in caves and mines for next summer, but there is much more, new ideas come up every time we meet, and we have many plans standing by.

I’ve been also very happy to give my little contribution at many other projects, among those the shooting of Lalla’s new videoclip “My favourite waltz” with the good group of technicians and friends of Frame Lab and I took part for the first time last Saturday at “Fountains Project” with Stefano and his good friends, and when I say good I mean it, is not that easy to find such great people…

I transformed myself in Alberto-scissors-hands helping my friend Patrick with his gardening job, discovering again the pleasure of working outdoor, thing that I missed in Dublin, if I exclude the few times I was gardening for the elderlies I used to assist with my job.

After the "Antipop" gig

I didn’t miss a thematic night out.

For those who know me, you should know that my favourites themes are good music, good beer, good vine and good food, everything to be absolutely shared with good friends.

I can’t complain about chances.

So what is it I complain about?

Well…because nature made men hard to satisfies, I’d say that for something I found, I lost something else.

I really wanted to arrive in Portugal at the end of July, and I really wanted it especially for myself, but also because at the end I’d loved to tell others about it.

An essential part of a trip is to share its experiences, its sensations, the real story with those who want to hear it, that’s why I am a bit sorry I won’t be able to do it again.

Of course there will be other chances to try again , there will be other trips, who knows when and where and how…but I’ll miss the fact that I didn’t reach a target like the one I was willing to reach, with all the meanings I filled my walk with.

Anyway, considering that with “if”, you can go far, better to economy on the experience I lived for a month on the road, and better to start thinking about what’s next.

It’s not sure that if I’d had enough founds to get till the end I would have reached the target…there is always something unexpected around the corner, like for instance the twisted knee I have as a result of a creaking noise that I heard followed by a terrible pain, while I was just climbing  a rock during my last visit into a cave last Sunday.

Yesterday morning I had to go downstairs looking for the crutches, a souvenir I brought from Ireland years ago when I broke my big toe…

At the moment the knee is swollen like a melon…who knows…if I’d keep walking, at this stage I could have been on the Pyrenees and just imagine my knee letting me down over there, without any warning…that’s would have been a disaster…be forced to give up at less than a month to the goal.

It’s easy now to say better so…or not?

And now?

I’ll keep telling you about other trips, my walks or someone’s else walks, short trips or long trips, fisical trips or mental trips.

The important thing, as the wise man says, and Roberto from Sinalunga told me once too, is to always have a goal to reach, big or small, it doesn’t matter.

I apologise if I disillusioned you and myself that I would have been able to reach my goal.

I also apologise to Christ and Kurt Cobain if I mentioned them in the title that has nothing to do with them…but it sounded cool…

Next step will be shorter than the leg (Italian saying) if my knee will allow me to do it…


Still "walking" despite the break

In Italy we have an expression that says “Don’t make a step longer than your leg”.

It perfectly fits to my situation!

As a matter of facts, when you’re walking, steps are all you need to proceed toward you destination.

But you must think before making a long step…you could find yourself in a situation that you didn’t expect!

When you are a child and you’re learning to walk your first steps, you have a mission: every step is a target, every walk is made of many steps to get from one point to another.

Every time you fall, you learn something, and you are ready to try again until you succeed.

Then you try to walk a longer distance. Then you try to walk without any help, you walk on your own, you fall again and so on…

All your life is like this…

When I started my walking trip, I thought things would have been easier, and I was wrong, as many times before…that’s how you (not always) learn: doing mistakes! Sometimes you must do the same mistake many times before learning…

The bigger mistake I did in this case, was to think that I didn’t need a big budget to walk for 5 months.

Well…as a matter of facts, I’ve already spent more than what I thought…

You save a lot of money travelling by foot: you don’t need a car or a bike, no petrol, no maintenance, no parking or motorway tickets.

You save a lot of money using alternatives way of hospitality, like Couchsurfing.

If you are lucky like me, and you have friends here and there it helps as well.

And to save more you can use a tent instead of staying in a hostel, you can buy your food in a shop instead of eating in a restaurant…and so on.

But still you need to walk a lot and, as you are walking, you spend lots of energies!

Troll

Then you need to eat more…damn…I never felt as much hungry as I did when I was walking some of the stages during the last month!

When I was in the middle of nowhere and the next shop was 10 kilometres away and I was dreaming to eat a whole grilled boar!

I ate a lot during this first month of the trip, and still I managed to loose 2 kilos!

The other expensive thing I didn’t expect to face is communications: phone, internet, print a map or upload pics on the blog…

I expected to find free internet in the public libraries everywhere, or at least cheap internet points…

What an illusion: I forgot that we are in Italy…people in Italy love their own privacy, everyone has his own pc at home, there aren’t so many internet points and they charge you a lot!

And libraries…well, forget it…if you are lucky to find them  open, it doesn’t mean they have internet, or if they have it, it’s the slowest connection of the universe…to write this post and upload a couple of photos, it could take you a few hours.

And the mobile phone…well, I was thinking to use it only for emergencies, but if you can’t use internet to send sms and save on expenses, and you need to get in touch with someone along the way and public telephones are disappearing everywere, you don’t have many choices…

Alpine Flower

When I decided to do this trip and to try supporting a few good causes, like the eco-village of Pescomaggiore (E.V.A.) I was dreaming to print flyers and to leave them around during my walk.

I wanted to make t-shirts with a logo and wear them myself on the way to sponsor the  project, to involve people with several events to raise money for the volunteers…but beside a technical sponsors that helped me with some free gadgets, I never found anyone interested in doing anything, except people telling me: wow…that’s a great idea!

Thank you very much for your support!

It helps knowing that this is a great idea, I am not being sarcastic!

But it’s not enough…

Now…I wana try with a provocation…Italy is not so popular among the generous countries in the world (see who is leading our country!) so I invite you, who are not Italian, to show my fellow citizens who is really generous and what that really means!

I want someone to click on this link and to make a little donation, or if you don’t understand (English page is not updated yet) let me know you want to make a donation and I will explain you how to do it.

Anyway, bank details are on the main page of E.V.A., it shouldn’t be too hard to do it…

And if you are Italian and you are reading this…wake up!

Why we must always have this spaghetti, mafia and Pulcinella reputation around the world?

Let’s show to our generous friends that we can do it too, instead of wasting time in bla bla bla…

I don’t want anything for myself!

My walking trip can wait, once I’ll find support I’ll start walking again.

But people working to rebuild their houses in Pescomaggiore, have been living in a tent or in a van for a year now, since the earthquake stroke the village…they can’t wait anymore.

Vineyards of Franciacorta

Instructions: play the video-clip then watch the pictures at the link below.

The only way is up

Iseo 28-03-2010

Yeah…if you have been betting I couldn’t go any further than the first 10 miles, you’ve lost…sorry!

I fought the river, and I won!

But now you can win your money back betting on other things…for instance…how many dogs will bite Alberto’s leg from here to Portugal, or…will he die of 1: starvation crossing the Alps or 2: drowning crossing a river or 3: smashed like a potato crossing the motorway?

To be honest the last eventuality is the one you should bet on!

There is always something to eat wherever you are and rivers are not a problem as I’ve learned everything Bear Grylls could teach me.

As for dogs they’ve never been a problem, they are always friendly…well…actually between the two of us, they are the ones risking more in case they met me when I am starving…

Mompeo, the first dog following me

Sutri, my best mate for a day

Another thing uncle Bear taught me is that adventure can be a fiction and the other way around…so when you see on discovery channel someone in the middle of the desert, actually there are 20 other people of the crew surrounding him and at least one track with food and comforts ready for the star when the camera is turned off.

But I am not Bear Gryll, so after the first 4 weeks of walk, I got a lift at home and I will have a nice break until I’ll be ready to walk again.

Someone asked me if I was already tired of walking…

Not at all!

I only needed to re-organize a few things, most important a new camera as I broke the other one in Tuscany.

I feel more tired at home than walking the all day.

I have to say the hardest thing to deal with, staying all day at home, is the bloody TV always turned on at my parents house, and if you know me well, you should know I only watch TV when it is turned off.

But let’s go back to the trip.

The first week I’ve been walking from L’Aquila to Roma.

As I said before I wanted to start from L’Aquila for a reason.

The city, and some areas in the Abruzzo region, were stroke by a earthquake at 3.32 am of the 6th of April 2009  causing more than 300 victims and damaging many buildings.

When I was there, only a month ago, the situation was unbelievable!!!

Church of Pescomaggiore

It is unbelievable that a country like Italy, one of the countries of the G8, a “modern” country, suffer a damage like this for a earthquake of this entity.

Other countries had in the past earthquake of a major entity and considering the power of the disaster, victims and damage were not as high as in Abruzzo.

I don’t want to talk again about speculation, corruption, mafia, politic and media indifference, buildings made of sand, un-civil protection protecting only themselves…whatever happens everyday in Italy and not in other countries (at least not like here) because it’s a pathetic situation we deserve for our choices in the past.

I want to talk about hope, like the hope for a few families in Pescomaggiore, a little village 20 km’s away from L’Aquila, to have a house soon again.

Instead of being waiting for ages an action from the government, they will build them themselves, with the help of volunteers supported by founding coming from donations.

Do it yourself if you want it done…in this case the only solution!

Really hard to realize, maybe a sort of utopia: indifference is always the biggest enemy of these situations, but I’ll keep trying to support E.V.A. and the guys who dedicated many months of their life to realize this dream, a little Eco-village to give a house to a few families.

The first of the houses almost ready

Maybe a little project, without all the attention media gives only to big sandcastles until the pity for the victims ends up and goes somewhere else to the next catastrophic event.

Give two euro texting to the bloody phone company and you will feel better, like if you did your good action.

Bollocks.

Nobody ever see that money, except the phone companies and some vultures ready to take advantage of these events to make their profit and to show their smiling faces during the next elections’ campaign.

I wish I could convince lots of people to donate for the project I am supporting.

I was there and I’ve seen what they are doing, and I wish everyone could understand.

I also saw what the big opportunist (read government, politicians, mafia, big companies…whatever you can imagine)  is doing and not doing for the good of people.

They are doing absolutely nothing else than their usual dirty business.

So, I ask you people to do this: click on the two hands logo you see on the right hand side or go on http://eva.pescomaggiore.org/ and even if you don’t understand a word of it, give a small amount.

It could be the money you spend for a beer, a coffee, a dinner…only once…its not a big deal!

You give the chance to a great group of volunteers, to build a few houses for a few people, not a big project, you wont save the world, but those people, well…you’ll help them to get their life back.

E.V.A.'s Volunteers

Hallo everyone…I am really sorry I haven’t been able to update the blog more often…is not that easy as I thought.

I spend most of the day walking from one place to the other, when everything goes right, sometimes I get lost and that takes me another few hours to get back on the track and most of the times there is no internet when I arrive in the evening, sometimes it’s too late and they are closed, sometimes there isn’t internet at all and sometimes I sleep in my tent when is too late to reach the planned stage.

Anyway, so far it has been an extremely positive experience, it’s really hard and exhausting, but everyday I get lots of satisfaction…my feet don’t think the same…but I keep them moving and it’s ok.

This is the 3rd week I am walking, I have been alone all the time,only dogs seem interested in following me, and most of them are friendly…one kept following me for a all day, he slept out of my tent barking now and then to protect me from who knows which animal, and kept following me the next day until I had to climb over a gate to get out of a private property and he stopped there…it was a bit sad, but I couldn’t have managed to keep going with a dog, too many complications!

If I’ll ever get back here I’ll go searching for it and I will keep it…otherwise I hope someone will take care of him!

Next week I will have a friend walking with me for a weekend and that is a good change…I love walking alone, but sometimes I find myself talking to the trees or to the dogs…maybe it’s a good idea to have company now and then to preserve a bit of mental sanity!

In April I will make a pit stop at home to re-organize myself and then I will post a lot of pics and some updates from my diary.

Unfortunately my camera broke down yesterday, that’s really a pity because I am crossing Tuscany which I particularly love and where landscapes and cities are among the most beautiful of Italy.

That means only one thing: I’ll have to come back one day and take the pictures I can’t take now…

Anyway, stay tuned and keep following me!

So long everyone!