“My journey in the Romagna region hit by the May 2023 floods began with a phone call that I received in the days immediately following the first devastating wave of bad weather: «Rosa, TIM technicians are working non-stop, reconnecting people and communities, help us tell the story of their efforts and the way those areas are struggling to recover from this ordeal.» Just enough time to hastily pack a rucksack and I got behind the wheel.

First stop Faenza, appointment at the TIM exchange, but due to various roadblocks, I took a wrong turn and found myself in the city centre. I was overwhelmed by a frenzy of vehicles, people armed with buckets and spades, everyone covered in mud from head to toe, a post-war atmosphere I had only seen in films. People, rushing around like industrious ants, with heads down and filled with resilience, facing the unimaginable.

The smells, different, dense, penetrating, hit me and have stayed with me. The smell of the mud, which gradually turned into fine, swirling dust from Forlì to Brisighella; the salty fragrance of stagnant water in the countryside around Conselice, which became increasingly acrid and pungent in the town centre, and then turned into an unbreathable stench of putrescence in Voltana.

Accompanied by Nicoletta, a TIM technician, I arrived at the telephone exchanges damaged by the flood. Many of her colleagues, also from other regions, were out there restoring connections. Along the roadsides, an infinity of objects like mountains of rubbish. In the fields, crops were still partly waterlogged or choked with mud. The images we had seen on the news had turned into still reproductions that I encountered in real time; they became freeze frames, incorporating sensations, reflections, lights and colours that not even water can extinguish. A petrified reality that becomes sculpture.

Walls as canvases on which to repaint a new history, where awareness of the preservation of the environment, as necessary as it is indispensable, becomes an essential reason for human, animal and plant life. Yes, because what surrounds us is life, memory, art, be it toys, furnishings, books, digital circuits that convey the virtual. It is the drama of reality immersed in water and mud to be quickly remedied, the restoration of the normal to reconnect with the vital. Accompanied by storytelling and the ever-present smiles on the faces of the people of Romagna, I listen and whenever possible portray a sweet, poetic transition.”

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