Laura Cerri is a 38-year-old lawyer who was born and raised in the bustling city of Milan and decided to remain there, largely so that she could pursue her chosen career. She told us that there is more to her ties to the village of Cecciola than just the bond established by her family’s roots.
What do I do for Cecciola? I’m a member of the board of the Cecciola Insieme (“Cecciola Together”) Association. Although I’m not actually able to do much in concrete terms except take part in the meetings and contribute from afar, I decided that I wanted to be part of the association as soon as it was formed.
Basically, I pass on my passion to others just as my grandparents did with me. I look after two of my younger cousins and always get them involved in the initiatives in the village. The enthusiasm of teenagers inspires me and I try to pique their interest and give them the chance to experience feelings that you just can’t find in the city. I’m talking about the simple joys of families coming together and traditions that might not mean anything to some people but are extremely important to me.
Emilian traditions also play a big part in my relationships with others when I’m in Milan. My friends always tell me that my Emilian side stands out, especially in the convivial, joyful atmosphere I manage to create when we spend time together. I know how to make tortelli but I don’t have much time so my mum kindly makes them for me and they’re always a big hit with guests, including people from other countries. Not even the culinary creations of Michelin-starred chefs can compare. I love to tell my guests about my grandfather, the smell of chestnuts roasting on the fire in a pan with holes in the bottom, and how he used to peel them for all of us. I might tell them about seeing a porcupine or cows out in a field. They’re simple experiences that we almost take for granted, but they grab everyone’s attention when you share them with people who haven’t been lucky enough to have them.
Even if I bring work with me to the Apennines, I inevitably never get any done. Something inside me flicks a switch, transforming me and stripping away my Milanese habits and routines.
My fondest thoughts and memories are all tied in with my time in Cecciola during my childhood. I would spend three months there with my grandparents during the summer holidays. Every time I return to the Apennines and I go for a walk, the smells remind me of my childhood.
I feel a strong attachment to my roots and a need for freedom that I can’t help but take with me wherever I go in the world: I love to travel and every time I leave Italy I look for a detail that in some small way calls to mind the Cecciola area and helps me to recognize and rediscover myself. It’s a feeling that I’ve had a number of times. For example, when I was trekking in Nepal I came across a stream with a distinctive inlet in it and I said to myself: Ah, there you go! This stream’s just like the one in Cecciola…
I need it. I have to find a little piece of the Apennines in the world so that I can find myself. The feeling is the same every time: peace and tranquillity. My unconscious mind is calmed and sustained by this powerful bond. I rediscover myself, I feel safe and it helps me to explore the world, with Cecciola in my heart.