by ANDREA SCARPA - Photo by ANDREA COLZANI
A USEFUL PLACE
Among my classmates and friends from Novara, I’m the only one who lives in Milan. Half of them work in Milan but they all commute back and forth… because the general idea is that Milan is a useful place, because there everything you need… but it is a chaotic and ugly place. Milan hides its beauty but, if you want and have time to look for it, it is a nice place to stay.
The first thing I did here, besides studying at the university, was the Drama Academy… after that I started working as an actor.
AT MILAN’S RAI
then I stopped being an actor and I started to do what I do now, especially at the radio, at Milan’s RAI, which is different from the RAI in Rome, or Turin. No doubt that what I started doing later on, when I stopped being an actor and I started working more as an author, writing my own things, I started because I was here and thanks to this city.
THERE IS WORK
I believe that if one wants to look for work, maybe not the job of your life… But in Milan, if you really look for it, you can find it in a couple of weeks. Here you don’t necessarily need to know someone who knows someone who introduces you to someone…
I’m lucky to have a job that I like, that I partly created and keep creating for myself, therefore defend it… I defend that little professional identity that I created and that Milan gave me the opportunity to create, of course, I don’t know if I could have done it somewhere else…
Why don’t you ever keep your head up, for example? You always tend to walk looking down… and then why do have aperitifs? What’s there?!
It’s hard to find a place, a situation or a group of people, but when you find it then you feel at home. Maybe because Milan is mostly made of, pass me the term, orphans, people who mostly come from somewhere… they came here to look for a job and so it is easier to meet up for people who do not have family members around, who don’t have those commitments you have when you are around family…
CLOSED? YES, NO MAYBE
The Milanesi talk a bit less about themselves, they talk a little less in general, they shout a bit less, in comparison with what happens in a Latin tradition, that this country has… But actually I think that when you find something in common, the fact that you’re here, on your own and looking for what you want to do in your life, a substrate is created that allows people to get in contact with each other. Maybe then people don’t necessarily build a strong friendship… But compared to the cliché of the Milanesi being closed… then it is true that sometimes you don’t know who your next-door neighbor is… But maybe you also want it to be so.
Look, maybe the risk in Milan is to close oneself into microghettos, meaning that in certain places, bars or schools you always find the same people. I also believe that in Milan there are certain places to demystify, and maybe joke about a little bit… those of the so-called creative class in Milan, for example, where It’s hard to find someone who is a plumber, because they are all designers, journalists, graphic designers or they work in communication… This type of thing sometimes may seem a bit ridiculous!
THE MILANESITA’ 2.0
Jannacci’s idea of Milan is disappearing, I think the Milanesi have become a patchwork of people from the South, from the Centre, the North-East and North-West who have in common simply the fact of living in this city. The people who live here always have a lot of stuff to do, or at least they give that impression. Let’s say you just have to break that barrier people put up for many reasons, to protect themselves, to manage to do five things in a day… Other cities don’t allow you to do five things, to say the least, in one day. Behind that hard surface are simple human beings who have lives like anywhere else.
IS IT UGLY OR NOT?
If Milan was less dependent on cars, it would be a little more exposed to its humanity… I’m not saying that walking through the city you would become friends with who you meet on the sidewalk, but you’d appreciate the humanity of the city more. Milan’s strongest characteristic is its self-negation. For example, when you go to a beautiful place in Milan the first thing you say is “look, it doesn’t even seem like you’re in Milan”, it’s always like that. It’s actually full of beautiful places: the Parco Sempione, the Triennale, some corners in Porta Venezia, the Isola, the Navigli. But compared to some other Italian cities… it is clearly less beautiful.
My first favorite place is the one I used to spend most of the time at the beginning, when I had just arrived in Milan, for the first three years. It’s where di Accademia is, in the center of Milan, near La Scala and Filodrammatici Theatre, the Academy I attended. That area in the heart of the city center was my Milan, where I lived for two years, where I realized that I liked that profession, where I met a girl I fell in love with at the Academy when I had just arrived… Another site I love is the area where I lived for nine years, in a house that looked like a country house, along the Roggia Vettabbia, which is a small irrigation ditch that flows through South Milan between Via Bazzi and Via Ripamonti. There I found a studio apartment that I bought with the help of my parents, and where I lived for nine years. It was amazing because… again, it just didn’t feel like being in Milan, because there was an incredible silence and there were ducks in the ditch, right in front of the house. Then definitely the Ticinese area, where I lived and pretty much still live now… In general I like the narrow streets, not the wide avenues. Via Tabacchi, Via Gentilino, the Trattoria della Madonnina, those areas where I lived in different flats, for several years.
WEEKEND IN TOWN
During my first-years at Academy, on Fridays I used to escape to go back in the province and see my friends. Milan to me was simply a place for hard work, for the week, the city for weekdays from Monday to Friday. When I realized that there was a world on Saturday and Sunday here, with another pace and other ways to enjoy the city, I understood, and it took a couple of years, that I could easily live here.
Although it could sound absurd, I say: jovial, warm and gray. When I was at university, I attended the IULM that is in the Romolo area, I found a place that not many people knew about. It was a Latteria (dairy shop), Latteria was its name.
As you walked in there was a counter with bread, milk of course, salami… Behind the counter was this gentleman with a beige apron. He ran the place together with his wife. I don’t know what his name was… his wife called him ‘Martelli’. His wife spoke to him saying “Martelli take this…, take that…” she called him by his last nale “ask Martelli”, she would tell us. Further in there was a door that took into a tiny room with tables, she had a kitchen and cooked, she made you know that thing, it was a kind stew… We were there for lunch, almost always. At some point, a guy used to come in, I think he was from the Maghreb, or Morocco, who sold objects… As soon as he walked in she began “oh signur (Oh my God) here comes the vucumprà (colloquial for street seller)”… “no rumpa mi i bali, no, no (don’t start annoying me, no no)” but then she led him into the kitchen and fed him.