ROSIGNANO. Egisto Gassani lives in Castiglioncello and celebrates 80 years next Thursday. The gift has already been made: first place in the category and two medals at the Rome marathon, the 50th of his career. But his life that looks like something out of a movie begins much earlier. Born in Livorno on 30 September 1941, during the Allied occupation he brought home bread, together with the other children of the Signorine block, looking barefoot for landmines on the beaches from the Marzocco tower to Calambrone on behalf of the Americans. Then in July 1955, when he was only 14, he “died” for the first time.
«Father was on board, I wanted to leave too but at home they didn’t agree, so I took my grandfather’s bike saying I was going to swim on the Terrace. In reality, I went to the train station and from there to Trieste to board a three-masted motor sailer, the Southern Cross, ”he says. Worried friends follow his trail for days. Having found the bicycle, they come to the sad conclusion: «They told Mom that I was drowned in the sea. The family looked for me for a week before settling down. ” The boy from Shanghai makes a stop in Suez, then from there to Port Said, Aden and Madagascar, and to India, Singapore and Japan. “After anchoring in Polynesia, I set out to swim to the island, with the captain waving his arms and saying” watch out for the sharks! “. They brought the Polynesians back to me. ‘
In love with the beauties of the place, he decides to stay ashore; the Southern Cross sailed to Australia 12 hours before the crew notices its absence and returns to pick it up. The route continues towards California “where we hoisted the great bunting for all the Italians who were there”, and again towards Panama, the Caribbean and finally Europe. Only 18 months after his departure, having touched Oporto, he remembers home: “I wrote a postcard in which I said I was fine and greeted everyone”. When the letter reached its destination “the postman went into the yard and said to mom:” Your son is alive! “. She fainted », continues Gassani, who, having landed in Genoa, prepares to return to Livorno.
«I had changed my face. On the street I met my grandfather, who as soon as he recognized me put down his bike to beat me. When he calmed down he took me to the Wolves cemetery. “Look where we put you,” he told me in front of my flower-covered grave. When we got home to the balconies, people were celebrating. They sent the telegram to father who was in Barcelona, he ran away and after two days he came back: we were all together again ». The second part of his adventure begins alongside his father on oil tankers, around the world.
And it is during the year spent bunkering in the forests of Indonesia that Gassani “dies” for the second time. “There was Sukarno, and there was the revolt of the natives against the English and the Dutch. I gave the guerrillas our food supplies and they blindfolded me and took me in a canoe to see their hidden treasures. Then one night in Singapore as we were returning aboard I heard “O Sole Mio” playing at a distant party. I dove. When I got ashore, a waiter saw me and thought I was a drunken guest who had fallen into the sea, and dressed me in a tuxedo ». The other sailors give him up for missing, but the father knows how “unpredictable” the son is. ‘The British police found me and returned me to the ship. I remember that my father gave me a Coca Cola, then I woke up on a plane to Karachi in the direction of Italy ». In the Bel Paese Gassani started a family, continued his career at sea until 1982 and became passionate about the marathon. A few days ago he is at Termini Station returning from the 50th race; saw the story of Paolo Boschi, of Follonica thought to have disappeared for 25 years and reappeared after reading the book about his neighborhood written by Carlo Tardani e Silvano Polvani. He recognizes it. He meets him and the authors. Explain that you have a similar story to tell. And he confesses: «I wrote the manuscript of my life, I would like to show it to Paolo Virzì to make an adventure film».
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