Pieve Ligure is the place I stop by every time I visit my brother in Genoa. It is my Jardin Secret, or more precisely, my secret reef. At least twice a year, when I am in Italy, I drive my brother’s burgundy Vespa from Genoa to Pieve, park it, and run to those irregular rocks by the Med. Pieve is a gorgeous little village on the Ligurian coast, about 13 km from Genoa city centre. Just like a little secret, Pieve stands quiet and unknown by tourists, who are all piled up in the nearby Portofino or in the gorgeous Camogli, and gives, to those who can grasp it, the gift of quietude. In spring, the perfume of olive trees, maritime pines and mimosas winds through the little streets of the village, over the most turquoise sea I can recall. The sun is warm, and the place is empty, with just a few fishermen setting up their wooden boats and their nets under the shadow of a white baroque church. Different species of cacti filled up the foreground while hand painted canoe boats dot the landscape. A long fresh path goes from the train station to the water, where a little kiosk sells beer and ice cream.
During the aughts, I was a student in philosophy at the University of Genoa and, every April, I visited this place regularly, at least once a week. At the time, I used to pack my backpack with books, dreams, my white iPod, and catch the train to Pieve, biting an apple on the go.
In Liguria, the line of the horizon between the sea and the sky almost does not exist, with the sky entering into the sea, and vice versa, given the illusion of being inside a painting, or a dream, with the train running in parallel with the sea, almost ready to take off to another dimension.
This scenario needed the perfect score, I couldn’t just listen to something random, I needed the right music. It is then, that I started to listen to and collect Italian soundtracks. Piero Umiliani, Ennio Morricone, Piero Piccioni, Stelvio Cipriani, and the many others that literally filled the sea with music and productions. Their mix of bossa nova, funk, orchestra, classical, easy listening, beat and much more, all linked by a unique Italian melody, was my personal score for those long afternoons by the sea.
Many years have passed since then and now I live abroad instead of being at sea I have parks and streets around me. Just like every other immigrant, sometimes I need to find shelter in the memories I have inside my brain, spread with the sentiment of nostalgia. Coming from the ancient greek nóstos, meaning “homecoming” and álgos, meaning “pain”, nostalgia is the word we use to refer to that feeling of sadness and happiness of the time passed. Music is one of the most powerful tools nostalgia uses to trigger these sentiments, in fact specific songs or records can easily access the drawer where our memories live, creating a big mess made of tears and laughs.
In my case, every time I play one of those soundtracks I find myself in Pieve, reading a book and enjoying the quietude.