“THE EARTH DOESN’T NEED US, BUT ON THE CONTRARY WE NEED IT.”
Philosopher, artist, environmentalist and eccentric hoarder, Franco befriended us as quickly as he inspired. He shared stories, wisdom, advice and his home-brew limoncello (the ONLY one we enjoyed), which he kept chilled in the ice-cream freezer. He is a remarkable soul and the reason we will always so fondly remember the sleepy fishing village Nerano plus continue to pick up rubbish every day after our morning swim.
His muse: the Sea … full of wonder, life, change and the unknown.
Winter is his favourite time to create when Nerano is in hibernation and he can hear even the tide and marvel how its hues change colour. “Almost 72% of our body is made up of liquid – just like the Earth,” he tells us.
Franco describes Man’s relationship with water as a “nostalgia for origin”, which is the reason why we are so drawn to it. “It is important to be always in contact with the Sea… and not only when the weather is good.”
He laments the lack of respect held for the Sea nowadays. “In the Pacific Ocean there is a so called ‘plastic continent’ of rubbish that doesn’t stop to increase,” says Franco. People take the Sea’s beauty for granted disposing of their bottles and packaging as instantly as they’ve sculled their last drop and scoffed their last mouthful. A wasteful trail remains steadily impacting biodiversity.
Franco recalls distinct shellfish and the seahorse, all of which he hasn’t seen for years. “Before in the area there were many monk seals. Fisherman say they were coming to the coast and eating grapes before going back to the Sea.”
The waste strewn about Marina del Cantone in Nerano dismays him so much he has gradually been collecting then repurposing it to put on display in his gallery along with his philosophical musings and paintings. The space is crowded, albeit snug for a hoarder. However, most importantly it makes one reflect on the scope of pollution in not only one sea, but all bodies of water in our planet.
Emerging from the plastic smorgasbord Franco’s arm stretches upward as an embodiment of hope. Hope his message will inspire others. Hope others will cure our planet of pollution… just as he cures Nerano. “The Earth doesn’t need us, but on the contrary we need it.”
“I have three pairs of glasses,” Franco tells me. “One pair to paint, one pair to read…” He takes a pause while I grin waiting for him to elaborate. “And… one pair to see the beautiful girls!”
R E L A T E D ::
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