BACKPACKS AND iPADS

VOL.1.7

Stories of arrivals, failures and achievements. Someone can’t remember where the luggage he brought from home is now. Someone stored it in a safe place, in case one day he might need it again. Someone is packing at this very moment, with a one-way ticket in her pocket. These are stories of people, stories of journeys, and sometimes bring with them radical changes, sweat, hard work, and disappointments. Sometimes they end in success. These are stories of people who struggled but made it in the end. And stories of hopeful people still waiting to find their path.

 

È Il mi’ paese”, my village, she says.

“I know everybody and everybody knows me.I could not live anywhere else”.

 

 MARIA PELLICCI, 67 years old. In London since 1961 She is in the kitchen from 6 o’clock every morning. When asked, she’s reluctant to leave her post. “She’s a little shy”, says her son, Nevio. But in the end she arrives, rubs her hands clean and sits. Maria Pellicci is a London institution. Since 1974 she has been running E. Pellicci, the restaurant her father-in-law bought in 1961, along with her parents in law, her late husband and now her son, her daughter and nephew. A whole family business that has fed generations of East Londoners, a small company based on polpette (meatballs, her signature dish) so delicious people travel from West London to taste them. A family that could be featured in “Call the midwife”, where the children were born in a little bedroom above the restaurant, recognised as place of historical interest by English Heritage thanks to the wooden boiserie made in 1944 by an Italian carpenter, Achille Capocci, who used to come for lunch. Maria arrives in London from a little village of 300 inhabitants near Lucca (Tuscany) when she is 21, and starts working in the restaurant where she will find her husband and her life. Her London memories are of evenings spent dancing with her girlfriends, attending mass at the Italian church or going to Selfridges to gaze at the wonders of a city immensely bigger that her native village. Bethnal Green is her true love. “È Il mi’ paese”, my village, she says. “I know everybody and everybody knows me. I could not live anywhere else”. The guest book is as thick as the Divina Commedia and it looks like every famous singer, actor, footballer or celebrity came at least once to taste the famous Maria’s polpette. “I made them special for you”, says Maria. “As we make them in Italy, yeah?”.

ALESSANDRA TORTONE, 33 years old, mural artist. In London since 2006. A painter with no canvas, Alessandra paints on walls, window-shops, faces, bodies. She arrived eight years ago, from Sardinia, and began her new life with a bravery that is a credit to her. “As an artist, it was not easy for me to live and work in a place like Sardinia, beautiful but narrow-minded. I had an auntie in London and I decided to give it a go. It was Christmas time, when every shop decorates its windows. At the beginning my English was zero and I remember going into restaurants and shops asking ‘Me painting window Christmas?’ Despite my accent everyone was very nice, and I started finding jobs. They were well paid and after two months I could leave my auntie’s house and find somewhere by myself. I continued painting walls and murals, until someone suggested I learn make-up art. I took a course and started working as make-up artist and body painter at parties, for children, adults, photographers and models.  And I paint boards with the menu of the day for restaurants and bars. London has given me many opportunities. There is something different to learn and try everyday. Homesick? Not really. I go back to Sardinia every summer but my life is here now”.

 LUCA MARCAURELIO, 37 years old, fitness-trainer-to-be, one-way ticket to Birmingham in June. A leap in the dark. There are not other words to describe Luca’s adventure. Having resigned from a well-paid job in Marino, near Rome, sold his car, his motorbike and his house, Luca will travel to the UK in June to start a new life. “One day, after a very bad diagnosis fortunately contradicted after 48 hours, I asked myself if I was happy. The answer was no. I realised I was going to work without any energy, without anything to look forward to. I knew all of a sudden I did not wanted to go along like that for another five or ten years or more.  I needed a kick. That’s why I decided to change. In less than three months my life has turned upside down. I have decided to leave Italy for the UK to start a completely new life. I have chosen Birmingham because it’s a city where I do not have any friends and connections. I want to look at a place with new eyes, and I can’t do that where I have already been or where I have friends to rely on. I’ve rented a place in a town I’ve never been before and I will try to do something I really care about, something related to wellness and fitness, the real passions of my life. I’ve given myself one year: if in June 2015 I haven’t made it I’ll go back to my hometown. My friends and relatives call me crazy. My luggage is ready and I have no regrets. The only thing is that my parents are old and my father is not well. He’s the only person I’ve asked permission to do all this. He granted it, and that is all I need”.

 

“One day, after a very bad diagnosis fortunately contradicted after 48 hours, I asked myself if I was happy. The answer was no. I realised I was going to work without any energy, without anything to look forward to.”

 

Schermata 2015-03-05 alle 17.01.31