April 30, 2016

Italian Getaway

Series of unforeseen experiences within a long weekend filled with great people and locations.

About five weeks ago, a friend told me that there's a slackline meeting in Milan, Italy, later in April. So I checked my calendar and booked flights the following minute. It looked brilliant: walking on some tightropes, meeting new people and such. However, just a day after this, I was walking across about 45m (145ft) long line tighten in a park and a few hours of fun later, something went wrong and I fell - miserably injuring my knee.

Right. But it wouldn't be me to let some injury to take away all the fun from me, so I didn't cancel a thing and about a month later, I was on my way to the airport.

After a tad awkward flight I had two weeks ago, I was curious how this will go. I arrived at the airport in time, and because of my knee they put me in the priority security lane. Sure, it took some 15 minutes before they were done with checking whether my knee brace contains a machine gun or not, but I didn't have to wait in any lane, which counts!
When I got to the gate, the boarding was already in process. There was a long row of all passengers waiting to get onboard, so I just sat down and let them go first. No rush, I put my feet up and enjoyed the day. This carried all the way to Italy, as when I got into the plane where they let me have a whole row of seats.

"fasten your seatbelt and put your feet up"

"fasten your seatbelt and put your feet up"

Now, that's what they did last time too; however, they also insisted to keep all armrests down and my leg crammed under a seat. Not this time...

Milan is just south of Alps and since the sky was clear; I had some sweet views on my way.
Coming from a city just 35m (115ft) above the sea level, one can easily forget that it's still skiing season at some places.


All right; it went.

When I landed at the Bergamo airport, I met with my friends from Czech and together we entered Milan.

Which tube? Red. Wait. Green.

Once in the city, we went to see the organizer of the slackline meeting, who greeted us with a tasty supper and was kind to let us stay at his place. It was already evening when we got into Milan, so the only other thing we did was a trip to a supermarket. It had a tremendous selection of pasta, cheese, bread and wine. Basically, that was all we needed for the next few days.

Following two days we spent in the Parco di Trenno, where the meeting took a place.

In the park we helped to set up some lines for the fest..


And once the lines were rigged and tested..

..the place was ready to welcome the slackline community.

registration booth

registration booth

In a short time, the park was full of people enjoying the meeting.

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It was cool to chat with the community, but I couldn't just sit there watching all the people around having a blast tightrope walking.italy (12)

Since I also paid the registration fee, I thought that I might as well make the most of it. Carefully, I step on a beginners' line, 8-9 meters long and only some 1-2 feet above the ground. It was challenging to keep balance without being able to use one knee, but I ended up crossing it. Moreover, I managed a few turnarounds at its end and sitting on lines up to 40m long.


Not sure about doctors' opinion about this early-stage rehabilitation, but it made me happy a lot.

It turned out I wasn't the only disabled member, another person had a couple broken ribs from climbing accident. She told me that there's a hot air balloon festival in Monza, a city just north of Milan. I've never been on such a gathering and my friends who have attended a similar event in Albuquerque said only good things about. The vision of a balloon ride with views on the majestic mountains on one side and a metropolitan area of over eight million people on the other, I decided to join her and her friend for a trip there tomorrow.

A major part of the meeting was a trickline competition, where those for who just walking isn't exciting enough perform various craziness like jumps and such on a 2-inch wide, 20m or-so long strap. Great stuff to watch!

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Mind you, just flying around.

Lukas Huber

after the this, there was another trick competition but on thinner and much long lines.

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Sirio, the brain of the meeting, explains the rules for the competition. He then joined it as well.

It was even better show that the earlier one.

Samuel Volery

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As the competitions ended, we ate and joined an evening program nearby that included a concert and projection of some slackline movies later.

During that, a massive storm came by and we maintained high society standards.

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Once the storm lost some of its strength, we went to a campsite located 15-20 minutes by a car away from the festival, just outside the Milan's city limits, where we built a tent and had fun until late hours.

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Since the tent my friends brought was for three persons only and I didn't had my own, I slept on a bench outside, right next to a fireplace. It was all right.
The next morning I planned to walk towards a bus station to get me back to the city. But I tried to hitchhike first and got a car in less than a minute. The driver didn't speak English at all, but told me the name of the park where the festival was. So I agreed and got in. However, just after a couple meters he pointed on some restaurant next to the road and said a sentence that included "coffee."italy (36)
I had some concerns whether I'd be able to reach the station in time, but on the other
hand.. "sure thing.. I mean.. si" I nodded as I had to agree that his plan how to start a day was pretty good. We stopped for a coffee and a croissant in a nice local place and continued later. In the park, as people were just starting with acroyoga workshops, I said many grazie as begun my walk towards the tube. At the station I realized that I'm a few minutes ahead of the schedule so I went one forward, to be able to see the San Siro stadium, a football temple built in 1926 with capacity exceeding 80,000 people. What a structure!san siro

In a bit I entered the tube and soon I met my new friends and boarded a train to Monza.

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The city welcomed us with a nice weather, people and buildings.

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..But there were no balloons in the air. In the park where the event should be, we found out that it's cancelled due the high winds.

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Oh well. But we enjoyed the day regardless.

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Once back in Milan, we strolled through the business district Porta Nuova.

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Just as the day before, big storm clouds arrived. But it didn’t rain this time; instead, it made a neat background to the buildings around.

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Good times persisted when we had a dinner later. That night I spent in a former monastery located in the downtown, where I planned to take a walk next morning before my flight back home. And that’s what I did.

duomo di milano

The Milan's duomo, the third largest church on the planet.

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Torre Velasca, interesting building from late '50s. Its top-heavy shape inspired many others, such as 1101 Walnut in Kansas City and 707 17th in Denver.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a shopping mall  that opened in 1877.

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Roman ruins

The time went rather quickly and soon I had to depart for the airport. On the way there I was lucky to meet another friend, so it seemed like no time and I was boarding a plane.


What a weekend. Trips like this remind me how beautiful the world is.

Click for my previous articles about slacklines here, and if you’d like to stay in touch for the next ones, follow me on Facebook or Twitter. If you know someone who might enjoy this as well, consider sharing. Thanks for reading.

Published by: Jakub Stepanovic in Stories