He used to move elegantly under the midday sunshine, crossing the roads and the small vias of the old town of Gallipoli like an old shadow with a white panama on top. I still remember him stopping, from time to time, in front of a church or another baroque building, to explain about the proportions or where the materials came from. He had the style of a man from the South, and the icy look of the Northern falcon. Everything was so white during those walks and the world seemed textured in white strokes, with the only interruption of the vivid couple of his blue eyes.

Every time my grandfather brought me around in the places where he had grown up I was filled with pride. It really was a great honor to be toured around by such an expert and charismatic guide. All of his style resembled that strange mixture of engineering like-fashion and vintage charm. I remember that the people, as soon as they saw him passing through, used to shout his name loud, projecting the image of the engineer well forward his actual position, towards the next corner, so that the others would be prepared to receive him. I also remember they used to call him “Pino”, and, as I child, I really connected that was because of the strength and robustness of those trees that stand on the seaside (that in Italian we call “pini”). Only when I grew up I realized that the people did not really refer to marine trees, and that Pino was instead the diminutive version of “Giuseppino”.

Every afternoon, after our tour was over, he used to take me into his studio to let me draw, using his old drawing tools. I can still vividly recall the large table on which I used to lay for hours. I used to pick all the staff on the top and throw it on the ground, and then I started mocking my grandfather, the well-known engineer Pino Albanese, with his white panama on my head this time. I At the end of the day, I usually also came out with my own projects, to be obviously submitted to the attentive scrutiny of my myth, the engineer.

I came back to that studio some month ago, during a trip to Salento that I did with some friends from high-school times. We bumped into the studio in search of some rest from the disco-time: the place is nowadays located a few meters outside one of the largest disco-clubs of the whole coast. We set on the ground, on a thick veil of dust that had cumulated all over the years. It was early in the morning and I could see the first light of the day filtering through the bars of the shutters. As all of my friends had fallen asleep almost immediately, I opened one of the drawers to check if the engineering tools were still there. I was glad to find intact a big part of them, including the red pencil that my grandfather used to highlight his favorite words in the morning newspaper.

I took some paper, and I started drawing. I used all of my forces to stay awake for some more minutes, and forced my hand to draw a few lines and then fill them with textures. I cannot really recall what I did exactly, but it was something like a sunshine landscape. I had run out of colors, so I had to limit myself to trace down the most essential lines.

It was all white, with only two blue dots in the centre.

Leave a Reply