Waiting times / Attese
A child is riding his bicycle carrying his backpack, I’m following his trails to see Linosa through his eyes on a February morning.
Of my school time, I vividly remember the moment right before the bell, along with breathless sprints not to be late, car doors opening, quick hugs to distracted parents and snack bags. Here in the hall, you can only hear the sound of a few voices, there are no shoves and no yelling from the caretaker calling for calm.
The child leaves his bicycle and joins his class. He stays in there for the whole morning together with other three classmates – all of them of different ages – and the teacher starts her lesson thinking about the school programmes of third, fourth and fifth grades all at the same time.
At the coffee shop, two men wonder whether the ferry-boat is going to arrive tomorrow, or the gas station is going to work properly again, and in the meantime, they talk about winds, looking for clues in the sky.
The bell cuts them short. The church is overcrowded, many people have to remain outside but the whole community is following the priest. He leads the funeral cortège towards the little graveyard which recalls a miniature residential area for its colours and shapes. The morning is marked by some encounters and every conversation, even the shortest one, gives me back a slice of life, a treasured picture that becomes awareness and overturns clichés.
People usually think of an island during the winter as a deserted place – here no one is alone but life is spent waiting for something.
This thought guides me every day I spend in here and makes me look at things and space in a different way.
Boats remain stationary, some tarpaulins cover them, no sound can be heard by the dance hall, restaurants are shut and small rooms seem way too big. The waiting is made of gestures and care:
the colours of plasters are freshened up along with the colours of the cornices of doors and windows.
Nets are prepared, woven and fixed – some doors, featureless at first glance, when opened reveal laboratories swarming with tools. Some of the rooms are full, other ones call out to simplicity because of their walls destroyed by humidity, of the pictures of saints and the feeling that they need to be filled in order to compensate a certain idea of loneliness.
Everyone is getting ready for the short summer in their own ways, yet you should spend autumn, winter and spring here, because only this way you would find stories, moods, shades, escape routes and points of view.
You would catch feelings or contradictions trying to get away and hide. The character of the island appears like a complex plot, and each extra day spent in here allows you to significantly improve the idea that goes beyond the concept of islandness. Things you can’t quite catch on to, can be grasped in time or when you leave this place behind.
Linosa should be visited from dawn to nightfall, walking from one end to the other, by the coast and into the interior, till the low peaks.
The road runs straight, following the hill, it hides the sea and shows lentil fields and prickly pears valleys.
Every day, I reach a different low peak: Monte Bandiera, Monte Rosso, Monte Nero, Monte Vulcano, and I think of the first inhabitants of Linosa – thirty colony members arrived on the island on April 25, 1845 - led by Bernardo Maria Sanvisente. Now, noises become familiar: shearwaters, the bell clang at 6 o’clock, the footsteps on the volcanic stone that seems to crumble.
At the end of the day, I’m following a man going back home slowly on his tractor. He reminds me of old Alvin Straight, a 73-year-old farmer who rode his lawnmower for 300 miles in the States to visit his sick brother. Now, there may be 3 miles only, but here layers carry their marks, paved lanes branch off, and every glimpse of scenery becomes fascinating in its own way. Sometimes I forget about the sea and I look down on it. During the winter Linosa is a mountain, a shelter for boats, self reflection and waiting time.
Text Marco Mondino
Photography Fabio Florio
Translation Valentina Di Fazio