Updated: Jun 7
‘’500 days, 25591km later but above all gratitude and love for life as never felt before'’
Marco is a passionate cycle-traveler who decided to make a change in his life on January 17, 2020. This interview took place during one of his rides on the way to Cantabria. He told me that the best thoughts come out when he's cycling. So it was.
Marco, first of all I want to thank you for agreeing to have this chat. My cousin Edo told me about you and so I started following you silently for a while, your story fascinated me immediately.
Yes, I remember that one day just outside the university I said to Edo ’’I don't give a damn about what we're studying, I'd really like to have someone that pays me to do sport challenges in the world'‘, then no one is paying me right now, but in the meantime I'm here and let's see how my life will evolve (he laughs).
Talking about sports, I saw that you recently paraglided, what an experience!
Yes, it was a birthday present! We also went canyoning for Hendy's thirty years and it was crazy, the water was really freezing! I must say that I have long since moved away from everything that is consumerism and when you manage to give your day, your time to someone, it's the most beautiful thing. And even when you can do it for yourself on a daily basis, that's an even better gift.
So, who was Marco before and who is Marco now since he started this journey?
I left Turin on January 17, 2020, when the word lockdown and pandemic did not exist and when the idea of having a curfew seemed to belong to the Middle Ages. A few things have changed since then, but let's say that the Marco from before was a Marco who in recent years was struggling to be able to invest his time in the best possible way despite actually having everything: a great job, a girl, a little house in the center of Turin that we had transformed into our nest, a nice car... you know, the stereotypes of the ideal life. But I realized that I wasn't cultivating my passions, more than anything else I didn't have time.
I talked a lot about the importance of time and I believed in it very much, but actually I was acting as all the others, without trying to change. When you start working, life overwhelms you, you realise that you pass from one weekend to another, from one holiday to another, from one summer to another where you can really do what you want: experience the mountains, play sports, visit, explore… but there's always a wait, you realise that you are just a pawn and that you do what society wants you to do. Even when I was promoted to manager, I couldn't be happy about that piece of paper, it gave me absolutely nothing because the world I belonged to was super distant from my values.
I became more and more aware of it, a process that started with my Erasmus which is also why I'm here today. Undoubtedly, if I hadn't done this experience, I wouldn't be the person I am now.
Where have you been for your Erasmus ?
Cartagena, in the Murcia region. When you leave alone once and you make it by yourself, you realise that you can do it other times. This definitely raised the threshold of happiness for me: being connected to other cultures made me truly happy. And actually, I have to say that the moments in my life when I was really happy are often those when I had the least. As in my current trip, I can certainly enjoy a few days of ''luxury'' by doing something different, but the moments of pure enjoyment are made of simple values and the kindness of people that reigns above all.
Another milestone for me was the Camino in 2016 after a quite though year. In fact exactly 5 years ago, on March 12th, my dad passed away because of a lung cancer after a life invested entirely in work and of course, in building a family. But I can't honestly tell if I ever saw my dad happy, I don't think he lived the life he would have dreamed of at my age. Maybe I didn't have the time or the maturity to ask him. But it was a lesson to see that everything can end so fast: in the four months since he was diagnosed with cancer, many other difficulties happened. I had a really difficult time. I always felt the call of the Camino and I was sure that it was the right time for it. I asked my boss a four-week break and I still remember the email I wrote to him. He couldn't have said no.
The Camino was taking a step back, getting rid of my role - I was the production team leader in Barge, I managed more than 50 people over three shifts, we made brake pads. There, I realised that human connections and in general everything that had to do with people's well-being was what made me happy. I remember that people were so used to it that when asked how they were doing, they answered concerning the machines. For example, there was a lady who was probably my mother's age, I swear to you she had tears when I said that I wanted to know how she was.
All these things were already inside me despite a certain competitiveness to do everything in the best possible way, but always both from a professional and personal point of view. I often had to sacrifice a lot. I don't know if you can still hear me but there's an incredible wind and obviously I have it all in my face! The microphone is still hidden in the neck, very well. (He laughs)
Yes, I can hear you very well! By the way, it's fantastic: I'm here interviewing you while you're riding on your bike who knows where (I laugh).
Yes, and I have a crazy view on the sea! On the other side there's the highway, but as long as there's no police, we are fine. I trust in the good energy that we emanate! (In Spain it is forbidden to ride a bike with earphones).
Anyway I was telling you about the Camino. It was like regaining possession of my time. I don't know if you've ever done it, but I think you'd love it considering your values, it's an incredible experience. Despite being a strong promoter of the bike, doing it by bike only worth 10% of it, because the Camino are connections, it's about going slowly, enjoying a sunrise with someone you had lost a few days earlier. The Camino is getting lost and finding the others again, finding your deeper self. I've been passing through these areas it the last few days by bike and it's crazy: every meter reminds me of something, I'm thrilled just talking about it.
Amazing, I saw you're seeing again some friends you met right on the Camino, it's really able to create strong connections and emotions.
Yes, among other things, I met my ex during the Camino, so for me it has an even deeper value. I met people who are still among my best friends, people that I continue to see despite being Tuscan, Venetian, Apulian... the other day in Pamplona I met Roberto, this 46-year-old gentleman I met on the Camino. We shared about ten hours together, but from the first glance I knew it would have an impact on my life and so it was because after ten minutes we were talking - I'm extremely loquacious (I laugh because it's the same for me) - he told me that what I was doing didn't suit me. Those words had such an important weight.
I realise how the connections created while traveling can change your life. The other day in Bilbao I joined a couple of friends that I met on a trek in Peru on Lake Titicaca. It's true, at some point all the dots you create in life can be connected, even while sharing in person or on social networks you can create a network of people with the same values.
A lot of people got in touch with me, during the lockdown I was a bit of a window on the world when everything was shit. Some people tell me that I was brave, but I reply that ''I would have been braver to stay in that position because it would have hurt me so much ''.