When you reach an unknown place, one person can make a world of difference. Emma has made a world of difference today. She has taken Vincent, Niko and Ief around for hours and initiated them in the history of Isolotto.
Isolotto (Island) is the district I have been in for three days now. It is located next to the river Arno, on the outskirts of Florence. When it comes to urbanization, this is a utopian place. And that will be clear if you walk around here. It is as if everyone knows each other, and as if everyone lives outside in the tree-lined and car-free Viale Dei Bambini, which extends broadly between two rows of low city blocks. Besides this modernist urbanization, Isolotto has a an incredibly rich history.
Take for example the story of Don Mazzi. In 1959, Pastor Mazzi gave all the buildings that were meant for the priests and himself, to a school, a place for disabled people and a factory: Fabrica Italiana de accesori. Fiaba in short way, which means as much as fairy tale. The building of the factory was rented for a symbolic rate, on condition that it was used for people from Isolotto, ex-prisoners and people with disabilities. Fiaba produced handbags, various accessories for clothes and ropes!
In 1959, Rome took down the keys from the church from Don Mazzi and forbade Don Mazzi to continue the eucharist. For 8 months that the church remained closed, eucharist, marriages and baptism simply happened outside. After eight months, Don Mazzi got back his permission to use the church. All people came together on the streets and showed their keys: Le chiavi della chiesa chiavi di tutti (The keys from the church are the keys from everyone)!
Ideas slowly begin to take shape. Everything I hear and see, Ief writes down in a small book. Through facebook we get more and more requests and messages. Several people in the Viale Bambini asked why the rope was rolled up. It was very hot today. All day I take in the smell of the warm plastic that protects me from the rain. Dogs find me a very interesting sniffing object. Children pull on everything that is loose. They get underneath me and call me ‘house’. Tomorrow is a new day. I feel like doing something.
Ropes, prisoners, factory. What a Fiaba, what a fairy tale. This can not be a coincidence. And this is just one of the stories Emma told me yesterday.