On this strip of land have already been great-grandmother and great-grandfather. With the Lancia coupe. And before that D’Annunzio with futuristic fanaticism, as Battiato wrote. Naked in a pine forest that only he could describe after the rain. Because Viareggio is the city of love. Not only for D’Annunzio, but also for Puccini, who brought women to his villa, now the square named after him, or Torre del Lago, to write novels, obviously about love. And love on the beach Viareggio many of us have done it. Because it is impossible to avoid his madness, even now, when the beach is lit up at night. But light it up! In Viareggio, they also make love in the sun, and do it in every possible way, side by side, in that orgiastic bacchanalia that has become Torre del Lago, where smart and even a little far-sighted entrepreneurs decided thirty years ago – not now that it would be easy – to invest in variety and they did it Italian Mykonos, a San Francisco that welcomes everyone and finds a place for everyone. In the eighties they turned it into an island of sin, when it was less fluid, it was still far from political correctness, and even in the red and progressive Tuscany, the other was a “hole”, and if it went really well, it was tolerated.
Because Viareggio is a city with all the urban contradictions. Not just a place of relaxation, recreation or entertainment, but an urban agglomeration and a community made up of differences between rich and poor, between beautiful and ugly, where there are the cleanest beaches in the universe, but also wounds that will never heal. as torn apart by the train massacre of June 2009, which killed 32 people and injured more than a hundred. A watershed for this community, September 11, lived through the evening of late June, because everyone will always remember the night they were and the moment when that roar and blinding light cut in two, before and after, Viareggio’s life.
How can a city of contradictions have a place that rises above the sea, but from the sea you can see the majesty of the Apuan Alps, a city that is called “the pearl of the Tyrrhenian Sea”, when instead it sinks into the Ligurian Sea, a city where the wind carries the most lightning jokes, where is the best pizza in pieces in a world that just call it the smell of tomatoes and mozzarella and anchovies invades the room at any latitude.
City with soul. Much more than the nobler Forte dei Marmi, ten kilometers away, which in all its august beauty has become our Monte Carlo between the Milanese and the Russians, imagine, but life is something else. City, Viareggio, liberty and freedom. City of the partisan relay Vera Vassal, gold medal for military valor. A city that rebels against anyone, born of a rat, because the prisoners in it, the prisoners and the bad guys turned out to be all men and decided to get inside, crossing the swamps to find a female company. Strange people, almost the only race in Tuscany that can’t be homogeneous, you know, but maybe that’s an exaggeration. An anarchic and supportive city that becomes a republic for three days in the 1920s, after a football match ending in a tragic brawl with the hated Lucchese team, and in the ensuing unstoppable uprising, pacified only by the Regia Marina.
The city where in the late 1980s, during the Gorbachev era, certainly not during the events in Hungary, I heard a militant in the ICP section proudly declare – not caring about ancient Greek, but remaining true to sea metaphors: “I’m not pro-Soviet, I’m cheerful-Soviet!“.
Port city, shipbuilders and caulkers, those who know how to make cars to cross the sea, because they live from the sea, and the noble cousins of the noble city of Lucca, they laugh at him and drag his avarice afloat and the short hand with which they, like Viareggio, they don’t know. Because tomorrow, who knows what will happen. And let it be a carnival, a party where everything is turned upside down to remain the same, where the haughty and powerful are ridiculed, not to flatter him again the next day, but to better be able to take him, the next day. especially apples. A carnival that, among jokes, jokes and dances, demonstrates the craftsmanship of its tankers along the avenues, because even a joke in Viareggio is saturated with culture. The culture of the literary prize that bears his name (together with Leonida Repaci, its founder), the culture of the city where the writer Mario Tobino was born and which Tobino calls “Medusa” with powerful efficiency, or which saw the birth of Lorenzo Viani, expressionist painter and writer. A city of sports with a world champion coach from Viareggio to the marrow of his bones, who starts throwing his first shots at Crvena Zvezda, what else could this team be called? Cinema, with the most sensual actress of our cinema born there, and with Monicelli, who was not born there, but loved Viareggio so much that he always said that he was born in that city, which, in its genius and characteristics, was truly his.
I know I risk letting myself be carried away by love when I mention Viareggio, I feel like I’m doing it the way the French mention France. That when a Frenchman mentions his people, there is always a little more love than last time. I happen to do it only with the name of my daughter, my wife and, of course, Viareggio. It is for this double “G” that I always pronounce with great excitement, the same letter with which the names of my two women begin, and the same double letter that becomes the abbreviation, YY, and which, perhaps – but perhaps even more for libertarian consonance – brought this city the Giorgio Gaber Prize.
Or who knows? It will be because this year, after almost half a century, I mention Viareggio in the first summer that I will not go to you. I decided to break away from her. Maybe return there in ten years, stay there and finally come to terms with the fact that Viareggio is my city.
Because sometimes you can even run away from too much love.
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