Having introduced the general itinerary of the trip and revived the spirit which animated it, let’s now rewind and go back to when the decision to embark on such a trip was actually made. A path full of questions, with happy and less happy moments, which, when seen as a whole, reveals a life-changing experience, one that alters the very perception of all that surrounds you once you get back home.
The departure date was set for a day in June 2005.”It took something like 6 months of preparation – says Piero – in order to figure out what to bring along, and to tie up the loose ends of what I was doing at the time. Six months to leave behind nine years in Rome. I made a bike (as we said a Tall Bike) tailored to my needs, and also made one for Rocio and Simone, the two people who were leaving Italy with me.We headed south to south-east, our first destination Brindisi.The idea was to reach Salento, to meet some friends and do a couple of shows there. “This turned out to be a sort of rehearsal of what was to come in the months and years to follow, a kind of daily routine. “We did the first 30-40 kilometers by train, to get out of the city, then we cycled along via Appia towards Naples. From Naples we reached Salerno, then we crossed the Apennines, which was hard, and we headed for Bari. We spent the first three months doing shows in Salento, and cycling around to visit friends. We did some juggling and various performances, and we camped outside the towns and villages, outdoors among the olive groves, without any particular problems.” Then Piero and Rocio headed towards Brindisi, where they would meet Simone. In September, we were off to Turkey, destination Izmir, formerly known as Smyrna.
“We knew some of our friends were already in Turkey, and were waiting for us in Istanbul.”They were the Cyclown Circus (http://www.cyclown.org/), a group of itinerant circus performers on two wheels from all over the world, who arrived in Istanbul travelling from Bulgaria. “From Izmir to Istanbul we took both train and bike routes, without encountering great difficulties, even when loading the bikes on trains. A total of 4 or 5 traveling days. We slept in the countryside and the goal was to reach the group as soon as possible. It was late September when we met, and we slept as guests in a small house, a total of 14 people.”
“We spent many days doing shows in Istanbul, along with the Cyclown Circus who were moslty musicians. Initially mixing our juggling art and their music wasn’t easy. In addition my English was very poor, and that was something of a problem. The theft I mentioned when discussing the safety issues of such a trip happened in the house where this group of 14 people was staying. During the night we had some intruders who used sleeping spray on us all. They then stole whatever they thought was of value. Gone were the handbags, which contained all documents, some phones (I did not possess one) and that was pretty much it. We were forced to redo our documents, and in some way we really were starting from scratch. Deep down I was kind of intrigued by this whole thing. Unfortunately, today I can no longer find that passport. ”
After the Istanbul interlude the group moved towards Ankara, and there – as pointed out by Piero – ” the real journey began”. The formula of the storyteller stopping, giving a show, asking for hospitality and food, started taking shape.