Why are wooden shoe trees so expensive


The periphery may be poorer, but like me - who is made up of periphery - she has water in her shoes today, her coat is worn, but her pockets are still full of stars ”, Paolo Coretti

Today, more than ever, we seem unable to compromise over time as we are harassed by the speed and intensity to which our daily lives are used. Obsessed and desperate by ever more convulsive rhythms, inextricably linked by technology, we find ourselves constantly connected to one or the other part of the globe and have to bridge different time zones for a webinar in America or a streaming meeting in Asia, dominated by an uninterrupted need for communication, always emphasized with a tone of urgency, e-mails that cannot be postponed, Whatsapp messages, calls, follow-up. The bombardment of information, the sequence or rather the overlap of conferences, seminars, weekly events makes it absolutely impossible to keep track of everything, except on an extremely superficial level or only after difficult decisions. Out of this discomfort grows a widespread mantra that seems to sound louder and louder: the call for slowness, which we must help at any cost and find it in the name of a life that better suits our physical and mental needs. A slowness without which we will not be able to restore the sustainability that the pandemic has clearly shown us to be of vital importance.

In a globalized world, forced to move constantly between continuous journeys, leaping from one plane to another, in that moment of forced immobility we found ourselves in a decidedly anomalous situation, anchored in one place, without the possibility of the usual movements. And the initial desperation, convinced that we couldn't live without the usual routine, was gradually replaced by the joy of rediscovering seemingly insignificant activities and fulfillments that we hadn't thought about for some time: I'm back to baking cakes started, like when I was a child with my mother and I suddenly had time to exchange little favors with my neighbor. We helped each other and it gave me so much comfort during the months when I didn't have a family next door.

After the particularly difficult time and when the fear subsided a little, I felt the desire to gradually return to life without always being locked in my little attic apartment, and I began to cycle on unexplored paths, first a few kilometers from away from home and then further and further away. I had the opportunity to go on a trip with friends to the area of ​​the Navigli, the Milanese canals, which had impressed me very much, which stayed in my heart and which I would have liked to have photographed. So I figured out how to get back there and on a particularly hot Sunday in July I left town for the Abbiategrasso rural area. I covered an incredible number of kilometers, over fifty, and as every trace of the urbanized backdrop disappeared, wide fields opened up and a view that did not tire me, but encouraged me to pedal in search of ever more magical corners.

The Navigli represent a complex intersection of artificial canals that cross and connect as arteries around Milan, branching into different areas of the province and meeting the Ticino and Adda rivers, which flow through Lake Maggiore and Lake Como, respectively. Originally used for shipping and as a transport infrastructure for commercial goods, they were [later] also used for irrigation and to supply industrial plants. The project, due to its very innovative and advanced technical characteristics, took advantage of the geomorphological qualities of the sloping terrain, allowing a relatively dry land to thrive. The Navigli reveal a very special identity, on their banks there is a rich agricultural, monumental, cultural and naturalistic heritage: in addition to churches and abbeys, one can admire magnificent suburban and holiday residences with large, green lands and gardens, which are dedicated to the nobility and the rich bourgeoisie belonged to the then productive activities associated with the presence of water, such as spinning mills, mills and paper mills.

There are also three major park administrations that represent a real concentration of biodiversity. But the most fascinating aspect, which impressed me the most during these hours that I spent here, was the spontaneity of the encounters, the naturalness with which everyone experienced the surroundings: some boys jumped into the water, girls sunbathed, an older man was talking met me and told me - with a strong dialect - some stories of the place, recalling episodes from his life with a touch of nostalgia and a lot of passion. I also had another very pleasant encounter with a woman who turned part of the rice fields that belonged to her into a new production entirely dedicated to organic farming, and who not only gave me a basket of blueberries from the farm, but really captivated me with their stories about the past and an agricultural world that I didn't know, except in the sequences of a film that was very close to my heart: "L'albero degli zoccoli" (The Wooden Shoe Tree). I relived the attention that Ermanno Olmi paid to everyday life, the importance he attached to the little things and the slowness with which he persisted and lingered on a natural and human dimension that was so close to his heart, the rural reality of the suburbs and the rural world, a daily life of humility and modesty, with a lot of poverty and full of exhaustion. I remembered extensive fields and rows of alders, the work of the laundresses and the mill, the proverbs and nursery rhymes that were dear to the folk tradition. It seemed almost surreal to me to have stepped into another dimension, so to speak, and to feel absorbed by an atmosphere that, in seeming harmony with the slow flow of the flow of the Naviglio Grande, gave a feeling of almost standstill. It seemed impossible that, not far from a normally noisy and intrusive urban context, I could experience this unexpected corner that exuded a wonderful smell of simplicity, delicacy and humanity.

While I was photographing the young people who seemed carefree and happy in their absolute freedom, not conditioned by any studied or awkward posture, just maybe a little surprised that I saw something interesting in them to portray, I wondered why it was for most of them so difficult of us is to find that kind of enthusiastic involvement with what surrounds us. Here, on the other hand, everything seems to be carried out with the utmost naturalness and above all without the fear of a quickly passing time and a clock that shows the dates of an upcoming agenda. There are several behaviors that make me very baffled, such as not being able to break away from a certain orientation without making drastic decisions that involve complete upheaval, e.g. the leaf in our own To flip existence. I would like to believe that everyone would like to put a more balanced stamp on their everyday life: I understand that it is not easy, but it sounds absurd that we almost always refrain from re-conjugating our time, feeling unable to make certain tasks that are too overwhelming and perhaps scary to reschedule, or better to eliminate, and in the end we explode with an immutable, compelling one 'I throw things away and change my job, I don't accept this lifestyle anymore! "We seem to be controlled by a mechanism that leaves us no choice, and even if we lose a lot of fine words about silence and inactivity, there remains an implementation of these ideas that provides a breathing space between the high of hyperactivity and a little distance from total dependence made possible by the digital medium, an almost unattainable goal. And if we had the opportunity to reconcile our work reality with a life that is more in contact with nature, more in the fresh air and healthier, as smart working allows , we would then be able to adapt to the calm of an oasis of peace without constantly seeking contact with the closest urban reality? This so satisfying perception of the landscape that I had when I found myself between the vastness of the fields and the friendliness of the people in this near periphery of Milan was perhaps based on a momentary disposition that helped me to see this reality through the lens of a romantic one Nostalgia to read?

I must admit, however, that there are many factors which support my impression, and the reasons for this lie in an agreement that has allowed the entire area to maintain its strong rural connotation. A collaboration between the Parco del Ticino and the farmers of the region was envisaged, based on the promotion of the territory, the enhancement of the production rooted in the region and the ecological improvement of the environment. The farms are committed to using low-stress, diversified and consistent farming practices. There is also a certain sensitivity on the part of the Milanese consumer, who shows that they value real zero-kilometer products, which are associated with the active participation of markets, restaurants and holiday farms that use and offer locally grown food. A happy collaboration that satisfies the collective interest and enables special places like this to survive without losing their character.

A corner that, like many others, has fortunately been intelligently preserved and does not share the fate of that part of the rural, remote and wild areas that make up 98% of the earth's surface and for which Rem Koolhaas a long reflection, a story , 'Countryside, The Future ' that unfolds along the volutes of the Guggenheim Museum. A world that has been so changed by human behavior that you can no longer recognize anything that once was. A landscape dominated by digitization that is being put under pressure without respect in the name of productivity. Our poor earth, exploited by senseless deforestation and uncontrolled mining, being eroded and drained by all the devastating factors caused by the climate and resulting environmental crisis, is gradually showing us the effects of the many abuses inflicted on our planet and facing us with a troubling and harrowing dilemma: what will happen when these valuable areas, which are not respected, start to produce inadequately for humanity as a whole? Today the planet has 7 billion inhabitants, which will soon become 11 who need to be fed naturally, as is the duty of sustainability. In addition to these really unsettling aspects, the Dutch architect adds other, perhaps less serious, but equally disrespectful, behaviors towards the landscape that create a feeling of distortion in an authentic setting in favor of a certain artificiality. The allusion refers to a tendency that is quite common and affects entire villages that are bought under the pretext of preserving their authentic spirit, but then restored with the aim of providing a tourist attraction, and also targets that traditional farmhouses that are transformed into luxurious holiday residences and lose their original soul in the process.

There are many ways to preserve the richness of an environment and what I definitely prefer should be characterized by a relationship of help and exchange between the various actors of one or more contexts, by a developed system of integration, a generous dialectic, in that everyone - respecting the other in the name of an idea of ​​collaboration - should give their best. Town and country presuppose mutual support that is not hybridized by the degeneration of a technological consumer utopia that is neither useful to one nor the other and does not allow a relationship of beneficial continuity and interdependence to be created.

Virginia Cucchi


Photographs: Virginia Cucchi