Heart of Lightness

We leave from Zemun under a heavy sun. Thunderstorms are on their way, the air is sticking humid. We’ve set off late because we have waited, in vain, for some journalists who were supposed to come to the club.

I row without any trouble up to Grocka, where the gods suggest me to find a good place to hide. Through the floating vegetation, I see signs of a passage. I can’t find any better than a narrow hole, leading me in a dream canal, 4 metres wide and fully covered by plants.

Seems like “Heart of Darkness”.

I moor next to two trees while thousands of mosquitos attack me. I try to escape in the river, but a strong gust tells me that the rumble is beginning. Just the time to set up the tent and the rainstorm begins. I’m so tired that I get asleep nevertheless.

In the morning, the water steams and the sunlight gives it a golden shine.

When I set sails it’s 5,30. After a few km I see a Marina: A guy aboard a boat, nice face and long beard, invites me to stop by. We have a coffee aboard Clodia and a slibobiza in the Club. We’re guest of the glorious Brodarski Klub Metalac in Smederevo. (more…)


The end of the road

Sometimes, at the end of the road we can’t find a nice little house where we can take a rest. It just happens that the road ends, and this is it.

From the train taking me back to Novi Sad, I saw a road that found its termination on a half built bridge. I thought to all the travels and lives of the world. Sometimes they just end like that road, suspended.

I keep going: So far, thank Bagawan, I’m still alive and kicking. Now I also own a little medal blessed by Benedict, that the papal nuncio in Serbia (met in the Italian Embassy in Belgrade, where Andrea Arnaldo kindly organised a press conference for us) gave me.

Dobro, super mega dobro, extra dobro, ultra dobro, hyper dobro: For this country, about which people are not often paying compliments, superlatives seem very appropriate to me.

I didn’t know it, but a place that gave 17 emperors to Rome (although I don’t like empires) must have some qualities. I’d love to stay. But for the usual, blind, bureaucratic reasons, I  have to go within the 16th of June.

Bureaucracy is the real burden of Serbian people.



The Siren’s song

We sail for 36 km until Vlada takes us in a little beach, partially flooded because of the high water level. Just the time to light a fire and a fisherman comes, curious about Clodia. He studies her, carefully, and pays some compliments.

Two minutes later, he comes back with sljivovica and four big fishes. We try to cook one of them over the fire: It tastes good but unfortunately falls into the sand. We try to clean it but it’s gone. Sadness, he died in vain. I don’t like wasting lives.

I’m trying to became vegetarian, still unsuccessfully. Too often my survival relies on what the river has to offer. But I’ll make it.

The night is cold, without a tent. My teeth are chattering: The temperature drops down to 3°C and my sleeping bag is best fit for a Tropical island than for cold Danube mornings.

At 7 o’clock we set sails, destination Backo at km 1319. Here, we’re at 1376: A long way to go. As always, the river is magnificent. Wide, free, with many islands and lots of animals, such as Herons and huge White Tail Eagles flying by exploiting the air current. We see fishermen with nets and rods: many of them are professionals.

With Vlada aboard, we go fast. He knows it all, telling me about beauty and pain, about his journey in Croatia and Bosnia, and the people that, at first, stare at him spitting to the ground but then they talk and the hearts open up. (more…)


Watchmen of the river

Knowledge is not only in our brain but also in our hands and, maybe, in our heart.

A big hug to everyone who’s now suffering in Emilia: It’s not much, I know, but that’s all I can do by now. I’ve felt the heartquake on the 29th of May. I was in Venice for my unfortunately still necessary medical exams, along with Jürgen Hoh who’s helped us in Bamberg.

Italy is sinking. I wish that it could resurface free from the too many sheds that waste its land (and that have been the first one to fall). I’m losing my will to tell, thinking to these things happening in one of the luckiest countries of the world, and richest too, in everything. I don’t know if I want to live anymore in such a stupid, crazy country.

I was watching some documentaries on the 1991 war in the former Yugoslavia. Craziness there too. In these last few days I had the chance to talk about the war and much more with one of the nicest, most generous and rich people that I’ve ever met.

I meet Vlada in a morning of May, in Apatin. I’m busily discussing with Nicola about how to keep going along the river: I’m tired and upset.

I turn back and see this young man, tall and smiling, in a sportswear. He’s 34 and lives in Novi Sad, Serbia. Sometimes ago he’s traveled along the Danube all the way down to the Black Sea aboard his boat. He tells me many stories and give me a world, his world. (more…)




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