1. Long train ride between waking and sleeping from Berlin to Basel, change in a comfortable tube to be rocketed through Swiss mountain landscape however covered by fog, then the first encounter with Italy, a 33cl Moretti can for 4€ served by a hostess in nightclub look. Last change to the regional train, absorbed by periferia’s poverty, the unnoticed fatigue.
Antonio serves the local rice with vegetables from his garden. Eat, talk, drink, sleep. Wake up to a walk in one of the oldest towns in the north; the streets, churches, buildings I now recognise so well. Handheld six seconds recordings on the market place, an old cassette player I open to liberate and buy the tape. Wine shop, farmer’s wine. Eat, drink, sleep.
Fifteen minutes before the concert starts, the gates of heaven open. Flooded streets, broken trees. Thunder and lightning while we play on.
2. A footstep train to Tuscany offers the first encounter to a familiar landscape: hills and country houses, villages tucked away in a valley. All is dressed for Sunday. Streets are empty. Churches. Brutal sub-urbanism where you don’t need it. A bar where life goes on as ever, somewhere, there.
Prato is rebuilt by the people of the People’s Republic. A Chinese tramp in the station hall, oversized sneakers, big bold head, maybe poses as an intelligent fool. How do Chinese tramps arrive in Italy? He sings Ho and Hu. Beats the rhythm to his disproportioned steps with some coins.
I buy a pair of trousers in a second-hand hall run by an ex-ex-Jugo-Slavian, who speaks Dutch, English, German and Papiamento. In fact I buy trousers and two tapes for a total of six euro.
Walks, waits, coffee. Slow rise of festival audience, moving slow from nowhere to nothing and some exhibitions in between. Sit, walk, wait. Look. Looks accompanied by Francesca’s looks. No words needed.
When evening and autumn cold sneaked in the festival ground got masked by young people practicing art. A lady with glasses, high on a chair, queenlike, spoke Chinese, calmly, as if she wanted to weave silken curtains out of words. They kept resonating long after I saw her step into the small car outside in the parking space. She didn’t look too happy.
Perform in a hall populated by on-lookers and listeners. I stare at them in a frozen pose while the noises continue. Here’s another forest made of different words where Dante would have lost any sense of direction. Darkness, glimpses of the twentieth century, a moon landing on earth. Half of the audience managed to escape.
After-show in the bar of a theatre in Pistoia. Finally Federico my host has the chance to be my host. Thus! Finally good food and good wine. Finally a first sense of returning to my former home country. And finally talks about football. We finish the plate of assorted cheeses (me) and meat (he) in perfect harmony as talks about football go on until late at night. Pistoiese and Fiorentina and Baggio for ever.
3. Winding roads disappear in Europe’s oldest forest. Talks of a self-destructive political reality mystified by pre-nazism allusions, five stars in the eyes of Rosenberg. Tales of trekking, discovering valleys and mountains. The smell of trees after the rain, water spouting from a tube in a rock. I am on my way to partizan’s land.