by ANDREA SCARPA - Photo by ANDREA COLZANI
FROM THE GOLFO TO THE DUOMO
I was born in Sorrento, but I grew up in Meta di Sorrento. I grew up looking at the Vesuvius: I had it right in front of me, the cobalt blue sea with the black Vesuvius above…
AND THE LIGHT?
When I arrived the first thing that struck me was the lack of light. The light had a different quality. I was a child, I was twenty years old…
MILAN SEEN FROM SORRENTO
It was very far away and yet it was seen as the kingdom of meritocracy… With time I learned to love this city so much, I would never change it, and in fact I very rarely go back to Sorrento.
When I first came to Milan, for a long time I didn’t meet any Milanese from Milan. ‘Are you from Milan?’. ‘Yes,’ ‘But Milan Milan?’. ‘Well no, my grandpa is from Puglia, my grandmother on my mother’s side is Sicilian… My other grandfather and my father are from Trieste…’. So after a while, the hunt for a Milanese started because I wanted to see these Milanesi, I wanted to understand how they were close up… Then still now, I have just two friends who are from Milan. They have a different attitude from the hybrid Milanesi, but when you manage to become their friend, you are their friend forever.
Milan is an easy city, it’s easy to use. It’s not too big, public transport takes you everywhere, the streets are much cleaner than in Rome. If you have to throw away a paper you find a bin, if you’re in a street and you don’t know where you are, you look up and on every corner is a plaque that tells you where you are.
HOW TO DEAL WITH IT
You always have to be very competitive, it’s a high speed city… You must never be left behind… It is a city that always expects a lot, you have to work a lot, always be ‘on’… But that’s also what is beautiful about it.
Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with its pace, but then it is very easy to meet with people because everybody is in this big wave that moves very quickly. So it’s easy to find people with whom to share even small moments of tiredness.
ALONE AND SUPPORTIVE
Compared to Sorrento, there is a very different social structure. In Sorrento there’s still a district structure, large families and solidarity among uncles, cousins and various relatives. No one here has aunts and cousins, relatives and brothers… And so in this city you feel as if you were part of a big family, because everyone seems to run around and have a lot to do. But if you need something, there actually are ten people ready to help you out, because they are all in the same situation.
WHY SO MANY SINGLES?
It seems that people have endless opportunities of meeting new people… But then when we don’t focus on the people, we hardly get to really know them… Perhaps it’s because we run too much.
I believe that Milan is forever. If you begin to live it, you really don’t want to leave. It really makes me feel at home.
THE CRISIS AND HOME RETURN
But in recent years I have met many people who have returned to their town of origin because the economic crisis has been a major problem. This pace is heavy… So as long as you get something back, some gratification, you can bear it – sometimes with excitement, sometimes with too much excitement – but it becomes tiring, too tiring, when you no longer have a return.
This was a fabulous city when everything worked perfectly. The economy was good in the 80s, even the 90’s weren’t too bad… It needs to be rethought because the world has changed, because we really can’t live measuring everything on success and money. So from this point of view I believe that the Milanesi must make every effort to reassess themselves, to rediscover themselves as people and to recalibrate what for so long were their values.
THE 80s ARE OVER
There’s a part of the city that still lives as if it were still in the 80s, with the frustration of not earning the same money as in the 80s. So, there is this layer of superficial people at the moment, who are really frustrated. I hope that the crisis will help all to somehow find a center of gravity.
MORE AGGRESSIVE AND MEAN
In these crisis years, I have seen this city becoming more aggressive. More aggressive and very very mean. Frankly, people are aggressive on the street, as they never were. Drivers are aggressive, and people have closed in on themselves instead of opening up and becoming more supportive. I’m speaking about the atmosphere we live walking the in streets… On the metro you see that people don’t give their seat to the elderly or people with crutches, unfortunately I’ve seen this behavior getting worse in recent years.
MOSQUE YES OR NOT?
We live in an open and tolerant city and I don’t see why we should not have a mosque, though I realize that with all that is happening in the world… The fear is understandable.
A MILANESE THANKS TO ROME
I realized I was a MIlanese when I started going to Rome and commuting between Milan and Rome. Obviously I was surrounded by all these Romans who said that Rome is a wonderful city, and it is a wonderful city, but I couldn’t find myself in all that chaos. And then I realized that Milan really was my city, because it suits me, and then I felt I was a Milanese when I realized that all my dear ones and friends were in Milan, and that my friends were my family.
THE BEAUTY OF THE ALLEYS
My favourite places in Milan are the alleys in the old city, for example, behind Sant’Ambrogio and behind the Università Cattolica. I love them because even when I go to the last show at the cinema in the center, I love the opportunity of going home at night walking in those streets in the heart of the city.
Emotionally gear up, because at the beginning it isn’t obvious you will find your own dimension. You go from a small town with a strong social community, to a place you have to conquer, from human relationships to work and personal affirmation.
7 YEARS A COMMUTER
For the first seven years I was in Milan I went back home every weekend. I went to Sorrento on Saturdays and Sundays, always, making huge sacrifices. But I needed to go home, I needed to eat the tomatoes from the garden that tasted like tomatoes… Luckily the quality of the food has improved very much. When I first arrived in Milan all salads tasted like plastic to me.
On Saturdays and Sundays, and possibly on Ferragosto, I stay in Milan because it is very nice. There are only people with an absolute elective affinity, who love being with friends, doing things with friends, have long talks, eat well at home… No, luckily I don’t have the madness of escaping the city.
I really like the new Milan of skyscrapers, I find it modern, it seems to me that many of these skyscrapers are empty and no one lives there.
The Milanesi who say that Milan is the most international city in Italy make me laugh… Yes, all right. All the people from design and fashion come here… but from here to say that we are now an international city… An international city is another thing.