14 Apr Vincenzo
my friend had the brilliant idea of cutting my hair like De Niro that night while I was sleeping.
My parents didn’t recognize me at the airport. They were genuine people, born and raised here. The city wasn’t for them, in terms of distances or human relationships. I took my mother to Madame Tussauds and at one point she asked me, “What are those guys doing all day, stuck like that? Do they get paid at least?” It was a memorable year, but I missed the sea. In the beginning it was an absence that I tried to overlook, but at a certain point it became unbearable. It wasn’t that my life was frozen in time, it was merely a parallel life that didn’t feel like my own. It was then that I decided to return. In the beginning it wasn’t easy, I worked as a sales representative for a while and then the right opportunity came up and I took over a shop in the village center. It was the oldest business in Corniglia and the first place that had TV, everyone went to watch it there. The owner would occasionally ask the people inside, ‘Did you buy something to eat? Did you consume?’ Then one day a guy answered, ‘Well, haven’t you seen me, how much I am consumed?’.
We prepare our food the traditional way and I refuse to serve take-out. I believe that rituals are important, especially regarding food. If I make lasagna for you with pesto, green beans and potatoes or a serving of stuffed anchovies you can’t eat them with plastic silverware while sitting on a bench. When my wife, the mother of my son, left me it was difficult at first. Village life becomes ruthless in such circumstances, I couldn’t help but see her walk by on the street every day, two or three times a day. Being single and happy is a violent slap in the face for those who still remember what it means to be a couple. Over time we became close again, especially when I got sick. Before I met her, I had the life that the kids have now, but with a few differences. There were hardly any foreigners, most of the tourists here were Italian families. They used to stay for longer, not just one or two nights like now, where you have to speed up all the processes.
The girls from Milan came here and we listened to them. We had both the time and the mental availability for it.
They were so surprised that someone would listen to them. Now when they come back we recognize those girls more in the eyes of their daughters than in their own. But still, it’s always an emotion.
I remember when the artist Pistoletto used to spend months here. It was the same time when jazz player Enrico Rava lived here as well. One day he told me, “You know what, it’s in Corniglia that I actually saw my children grow up. It’s here they can go out alone, go shopping…” Perhaps being born here limits ambition, but the focus is on serenity, a little thing that still measures the meaning of life.”