Heaven and Earth in Corso Venezia

29 December 2014

Crisp winter day. The cold blue sky – as clean, majestic, and utterly indifferent as a blue-blooded aristocratic behaviour.

On the sixth floor of a palazzo in Viale Monza, one feels closer to the sky than to the busy road underneath.

At 9am, most persiane are still down. An hour and a half earlier it was still dark. Italians rise with the light.

This is the Mediterranean world – get up late, stay up late. Enjoy the light and the open space. Take your time, don’t rush through the hours of the day as we do in London. Live through time, instead.

A man, hat-in-hand, on Corso Venezia – one of the richest areas in Milan. He waits, he takes a step towards each passer-by and then, out of the blue, asks – Non mi vedi? “I’m here. Don’t you see me?”

Indeed, what is wrong with us all, passing through life in such a rush, neither seeing nor hearing the others as flesh and blood individuals right here, next to us? Most of the time we only see them as a collective, and in a predetermined, often institutionalized setting. Other than that, we treat people passing by as just shadows. Non mi vedi may be the most natural question in the world – be that the Mediterranean one, or elsewhere. It may well be that God spoke to us right there and then, between the misery and the lush life on Corso Venezia, through the words of a beggar.

To be continued.