Torino is a post-city. It is a post-royal, post-capital, and now post-industrial city.
A lot of things start here, only to go somewhere else to be developed thoroughly.
In the ‘50s a critical mass of laborers came from the South of Italy to live and work in Fiat’s production chain.
Now most of them are retired, live on a small pension and have not gone back to their original cities and villages in the South.
A lot of them came from a very rural background, and had to cope with the cultural shock of a different social environment, different weather, different food and different language (those familiar with Italy will know that we speak very different dialects in different regions).
One of these men, once he retired, decided to go back to working the soil without moving to the countryside.
Michele lives close to the center of the city, and years ago started to work on a leftover area between Via Vanchiglia and Corso Regina: a scrap of ground with no value, polluted, dirty and a little messy.
It still was (and still is) illegal to work and somehow occupy any kind of public space, but Michele wasn’t doing anything bad, and the City could skip mowing the lawn at least in one spot.
After years of gardening his work was accepted by his neighbors, and somehow it has now even become cool.
I am not really interested in urban gardening, but Michele has changed and shaped a piece of the city in these years.
He has designed his own part, starting from a personal green space and following a process that is similar to the one we use in interior design. He put up a fence to delimit his spot – what I personally call “the proximity space” – and then got to work inside.
He has built a personal landscape that has come to be a piece of the urban landscape that I (and a lot of other neighbors) live daily.