The dust on the shoes.
I just pass a finger on the hard leather. I should put the cream on to soften it. And I should put it on my face, to soften the skin burned by the sun and above all by the wind. But I don’t want to remove from the shoes and from the face the signs of the trek just ended.
I want hold on the illusion to depart soon again. Tomorrow. Right away. I want this wind to take me back to flight.Tomorrow. Right away. I want this wind to take me back to fly.
What a wind! On that cool spring morning, with no trace of winter. I was too dazed by the thousand things to do to really realize that we were leaving. They were the first steps of this new journey, born during a journey.
Pippa and Lulù were tied to the fence, aware that something was happening. I immediately felt the desire to embrace them, they were the new travel companions. They were the protagonists. They would mark the time, carry our bags, catapult us into history, at the time of transhumance.
We take the first steps within this cold blowing. It is all beautifully green grass, blue sky, brown earth, white street and yellow. Yellow flag, yellow us. A color that now donkeys like. Because we are a bit of them and they are a bit of us. We all have a yellow shirt with the symbol of this event. The flag with the same design. We also have a banner with our scream, YellowTheWorld! Written in large letters so that can be read from afar, so that it can be seen with the power with which it is heard.
There is already grit, excitement, desire to walk, in each of the participants who have come from all over Italy to walk the paths that from Cascina lead to Rosignano Marittimo through the Pisan countryside. We are so many. We are a caravan that from a distance looks like a displacement of nomads. Next time we also bring the carriage. Here we are. We are on the way. Without human or animal differences. The most inclusive journey I have ever done. For some traits, children have also accompanied us.
I would like to be a bird, and look down on who we are. This story wants to be this: a flight. To look with a little distance at everything that happened in four days in this animal distributed between the first and the last of the walkers.
If we could trace the dynamics of this fluid atom at the time of the steps, if we could retrace the speeds that made up every mood, every speech, every encounter. If everything could be reproduced there would not be that unrepeatable uniqueness.
All apparently casual, always inscribed between the first and the last, of us, who have never been the same.
A flag that flutters, stretched by that inexplicably strong wind. Because everyone must know that we have a message to carry. Small breaths of dust raised by steps. Blown away by the fury of the air. Laughs words, some brief chants. And a few morning braying.
There are no differences between us, I have never felt the weight of what I do not see, I do not hear. I heard everything we saw together, lived together. Light dynamics of human relationships born in a short time, strengthened by necessity. I see nothing, I don’t need to see anything. It’s all in the eyes of this animal that sees for me.
I feel on my skin all the sensations that I hear. I feel the roe deer that run on the prairie invaded by daisies, I hear the rows of vines, the centenarian olive trees. I hear the evening bells, the medieval stones, I hear the distant hills, which hide the last instant of sunset.
I am again a flying bird that for the eternity of a journey manages to be all the things and elements of this world. They are the bare earth, they are the fire of the fireplace lit in the evening. I’m the wine. What a taste the wine drunk on the fields. as if the heart had papillae. What taste the oil spread on bread, the taste of stories told in the shade of an oak still with no leaves. The tired feet drying out from the sweat and without getting up from the ground I pass a piece of bread.
This is the invaluable value of this journey on foot. The leveling of the differences even knowing that every little diversity of ours makes this animal complete. The donkeys are nothing more than two of the elements, to which we are grateful and not just for transportation. They have their own character, a personality that is slowly revealed. Pippa is always ahead. Lulù does not move without her.
It is not possible to imagine what the energy of walking in a group is except by equating it with the blood that flows inside a new animal. a powerful and calm animal, capable of anything, above all capable of respect for itself and for this splendid nature of a minor Tuscany. A sensory journey, sustainable and responsible, a journey through time through the territories where our fathers used to go, shepherds who took the sheep to pasture.
A ritual whose beginning is lost in the mists of time. The seasonal movements of the cattle have connected mountain and plain, the Apennines, Garfagnana and Tuscan Maremma, and characterized the regional lifestyle. It was done in spring and autumn along well-defined arteries. An important social phenomenon that we have experienced.
Nino Guidi, hiking environmental guide, founder of Montagne di Legami, who together with NoisyVision has organized this journey, tells us about it.
Herding and cattle breeding have long been a crucial resource of the territory in the Tuscan countryside and hills and on the Apennine ridges of Emilia Romagna. For centuries, through the seasonal movement of the sheep, the phenomenon of transhumance has linked mountain and plain, resisting until the middle of the ‘900 when many shepherds moved to Val di Cornia, Val di Cecina and the rest of the Maremma. This evocative movement of men and animals has not only represented the characteristic traits of a fundamental activity for the rural economies of the time but has consolidated ways of life, routes and landscapes concerning the Apennines and its protagonists. The past generations, through its protagonists, have left us a territorial and social heritage that today, with the rediscovery of these ancient tracks, offers us the possibility of reliving this evocative way of traveling from one area to another in a touristic way and to re-evaluate the affected areas.
How many items in a single trip.
The donkeys, the blind and visually impaired, the hearing impaired, the group, the transhumance and the history, the territory and nature, the rediscovery of the senses, the gastronomy. That’s precisely, because the journey of taste was as intense as that of the other senses.The sound of the wind, the bray of the donkeys, the voices of the traveling companions and their silence have gladdened the hearing. The landscapes, the colors are those of a less known and equally amazing Tuscan. The scents are the delicate ones of the timid spring that is waiting to explode. And under the shoes the stones and the earth, the hands of a traveling companion, the emotions themselves, all on the skin.
The flavors of these areas are those of the bread made with the ancient Verna grains, the Pecorino cheese from the Caseificio Busti and those of the excellent menus of the accomodations where we stayed. The Albergo Diffuso of Lorenzana, Ospiti del Borgo, the Podere Quercia Furia of Orciano Pisano and the Agriturismo San Marco of Rosignano Marittimo. And Osteria I Santi in Pisa.
What is missing in this interminable sequence of factors that make this journey complete?
That only to pronounce the name the heart expands. Try to walk for several days and kilometers and at one point confuse the horizon of the hills with the sea. The imperfect eyes of the visually impaired can do it. The chromatic fusion of dusk creates this illusion of infinity. We would never want to arrive. We don’t want tomorrow to be the last stage. We want to keep going, we want these last steps barefoot on the sand to be just a break.
It is time to enter the cold water. It has the winter still inside. It is a new baptism, it is a new beginning. Beyond the infinite horizon and without direction of the great sea. We are all so expanded that the sea seems small to us, too bright to look at it for a long time. words are not enough. A scream, a visceral vibration, inspired by the sweet words of one of us. A scream in unison with the wind. A shout, a roar, a cry. The one of the animal we are. New, unique. Born in Pisa arrived at the sea. In the time of history, of a journey and a life. Animal alive, now, inside each one of us. Animal with yellow blood. Animal that only wants to go, on fo.ot, or in flight.