Reading a book is like starting a journey, in silence, without knowing where it will lead you and when you will reach the end. And the end is given by the last page, if you don’t give up first and put it back on the shelf.
Strange, but only now that we are locked in the house do you think, reflect and realize the importance of silence. I go back in time, almost thirty five years ago.
My home town is a small village on the sea, or rather on a system of sea caves. 45 to 50 of them, one more beautiful than the other. We ended the summer season after running a small pizza restaurant on the sea in the hamlet of San Vito. We straightened it up and got ready for the next season.
We went back to the town: Polignano a Mare.
In the afternoon we began the silent walks from 4 o’clock onwards. Always in twos, friends inseparable at work and in life outside of work.
It’s not that we had nothing to say to each other, indeed the work had gone well. But that silence was a way like any other to admire the beauty of the town, one of those gifts that nature gives you. You could breathe the scent of the sea in those silent streets.
We almost felt like custodians of such beauty and custodians of its protection. We only knew a few secrets, at least until 1994. Walking on those balconies and stopping on each of them was of a unique happiness.
The obligatory route to the historic centre always led you to a break on that beautiful sea.
At each stop we wondered if by chance those places, those beauties had inspired our famous fellow citizen, indeed the most famous. And both of us broke the silence and the answer was in unison: sure! indeed, of course!
These places are forever in your heart and make you dream. The places of the heart you cannot forget them, on the contrary, by dint of telling and thinking about them, they take on the contours of the legend. And legends defy time and become immortal.
Our walks had a stop at the bar of the “Supermago del Gelo”.
That bar had now become half of the whole area of Bari. In addition to the quality of the ice cream, it gave you a unique soundtrack from three in the morning, hours of the labourers, until 24 in the evening: the music always and only unique of the national Mimmo.
There was no discussion with Super Mario, Mimmo and that’s all.
We got used to that soundtrack and maybe he was right too: my father that is.
And yes, he too, an agricultural labourer with fifth grade education and being a self-taught accordion player, every time he took the accordion the chorus was always the same.
He said to me with pride: “Do you hear this? When he serenaded; I lent it to Mimmo!“.
I will never know if it was true, but it is certain that at the end of the 70s at a concert in a banquet hall, Modesto and I worked as waiters when 5 or 6 workers who wanted to greet Mimmo showed up.
We accompanied them to the dressing room and as soon as the door opened, Mimmo in dialect called them by name “Mariooo, Lulucc, Pasque how are you!“.
The door closed and they stayed until the start of the concert. In my opinion, that exciting meeting had given those old friends at least another decade.
The confirmation that Mimmo had not forgotten the places, his town, his friends and the dialect I had personally heard in that distant 1994. It was summer, early August and in a few days the great concert of the reconciliation would be held in his town.
We had finished work, closed the restaurant and the pizzeria and we were on a break in the bar. A sports Alfa Spider with an open roof slowly entered the gate and the driver a friend calls me “Mimmo hold a moment“.
Who knows why I didn’t send him to that town as tired as I was. I turn from the counter, walked about ten meters and approached the car.
“Te chiem Mimi a com a me“. (You’re call Mimmo like me)
“Yes” I replied and at that moment it is impossible to describe the emotion … in front of me I had him, the national hero Mimmo. My heart never stopped beating … other than Mennea’s record.
“Per cas sav affaccet Pierluigi !?” (Perhaps you know where is Pierluigi?)
He usually comes, but he hasn’t been seen tonight. “Go well my boy” and I return “If by chance I tell him you’re looking for him teacher“. The little Spider manoeuvred and went out the gate.
Pierluigi was an impresario friend of his and had developed and helped organize the concert. The peace concert in the town of national hero Mimmo. Pierluigi was a friend and every time he returned it was a pleasure to have a coffee and chat.
I had never seen so much press and so many cameras as in those days.
Despite the disability, the concert went very well and Mimmo found his town and the warmth of his people, his dialect.
Polignano made peace with its most illustrious citizen. Needless to say, I would have kept those two minutes of meetings in my heart as well as the humility of an artist who had never erased from his memory his town, his friends and his friend’s ice cream.
The walks continue today on the beautiful balconies and then onto the whole promenade to the former communal butchery, today the museum of contemporary art dedicated to another illustrious person: Pino Pascali.
But that is another story.