Vanni Pinin Oddera
I was born and raised in a small village perched on the Ligurian Apeninnes between Genoa and Savona, a place that is both close to everything and lost in the middle of nowhere. Here, ice cold winters are followed by ideal springs, sultry summers and New England autumns.
The surrounding woods are huge and majestic, with meadows rubbing elbows with pine, larch and chestnut forests as well as thousands of plants and animals.
Since I was a kid, I have always loved spending whole days on my own in the country, so much so that once, when I was eight, the police found me riding around in the woods at 9 p.m. You can imagine how scared my family was but all was well that ended well.
I did my first death jump holding a fishing rod in my hand.
I was nine and I was going fishing with the ash rod I had made for myself. I walked across a wood, then a meadow, then another wood and finally ran across a small road when I felt a huge shove against my hip. I was sent flying up in the air over the roof of a car and fell on the ground with a thump.
I had just been hit.
Nothing was broken, just a few good scratches and a head trauma. When I was taken to hospital, I insisted on keeping my rod and bucket, I would not give them up.
During one of those trips across woods and torrents, I got to know my first friend. “Scheggia” (Splinter) was a massive wild pig, about two hundred pounds. The first time we met, in a wooded gorge, I was a little scared but when I realized that he was as scared as I was, I understood that we humans are not that different from animals, except for our superior consciousness.
Within a month, during which I went to feed him every single day, we became friends.
In the end, all I needed to do was to step out of the house and call him. He would come running through the woods into the courtyard like a dog.
I would jump out of my chestnut bed I had made in a sort of pine-dwelling style, wash and go out and there was my mum who had fixed some breakfast for the three of us.
Looking back, the picture seems pretty surrealistic to me, me and my mum sitting on the front porch sipping white coffee while Splinter feasted on bread and corn in the yard.
Every morning, our two dogs watched the scene as if they had seen it for the first time, with a strange, annoyed expression