We first saw an installation by Christo and Jeanne-Claude in New York City’s Central Park. Walking through the orange gates floating from the sky was mesmerizing. Being a part of the art was an inspiring experience. When we discovered that the latest Christo installation was going to be in Italy we promptly made arrangements to wend our way there. We drove to Milano and stayed at our Milanese home away from home Hotel Il Girasole. Wednesday morning we took the metropolitana to Milano Centrale and hopped a train to Brescia. Disembarking we noticed signs, like the yellow brick road of Oz, leading us towards our goal. Following the Floating Pier signs we found ourselves on a rather long line of jovial people standing on a yellowish carpet.
Oz! The excitement was building. People were chatting and swapping tales of their journeys to the piers. We met an Australian couple that told us they were staying in Brescia and had tried to get to the Floating Piers that morning. So many people had come that they cancelled all the outgoing trains to Salzano – the starting point of the pier. It was 11:00 ish and they were trying again. Shit, I remembered Woodstock. A group of pals and I bought tickets for the final day of the concert to end all concerts. We were so excited. We were so screwed. They closed all the roads before the end of day one. No one else would be allowed in. Shit, this would be another Woodstock. “Don’t think like that,” my optimistic spouse whispered. How did he know what I was thinking. OH, I told the story to the folks in the line! EEGGGG.
We all waited for about an hour and then boarded an extremely modern air conditioned train for the half hour ride to Iseo! It felt like a bar crawl bus. Everyone was in high spirits! Hmmm. The train isn’t moving??? Maybe a half hour later the train started moving. We had seats and the conversations flowed. Oh, it is a local with stops at every station between Brescia and Iseo. 45 minutes later we got there. In Iseo we boarded and sat on the train in the station. Perhaps 45 minutes later they told us to change to yet another train. People raced pushing and shoving onto the second train. This was a very crowded, standing room only train to Sulzano. Yeah! This will be the train to our art experience. We waited. It started up! The art party disembarked from the train and was herded onto the magical yellowish carpet. We are one with the art! Then the slow forced march began. The cue to reach the beginning of the pier took almost an hour – but we were still on yellowish carpet. I could smell the water. Oz was close.
Look, I screamed at Jack as we slowly walked down the hill – I can see the lake. I can see the pier! TAKE a picture! Ouch, a backpack smacked into my side and another hit my stomach as those odious people who insist on taking their life long possessions on a day trip also tried to squeeze a picture through the crowd.
Slowly we advanced on the lake. A radio squeaked at a guard point – yes there were guards along the way. The piers are over crowded. Stop the Crowd. We stopped. Jack and I were at the very front of a line that wended its way all the way back up the hill to the train station. I thanked the guard. She looked at me like I was crazy. Why? she asked. Because you are standing out here in 100 degree weather keeping us safe. She yelled over to the other guard – This is the first time in two weeks that someone thanked me! Some one finally realizes what we do! Of course I do, I’ve organized huge events and I’ve got to say that they tried here but didn’t anticipate the number of people who would come to a little out of the way island that is accessed via limited public transportation. This isn’t New York City.
IT was fun learning about the project from our friendly guard. After waiting for about 45 minutes, we were allowed to follow the yellowish road down to the water. All thousands of us. You could actually feel the ebb and flow of the water beneath your feet. The mountains surrounding the lake were – ouch another fucking back pack smacked me as some cretin turned to look at the view. No stopping, we are reminded by the crowds behind us surging forward. The forced march continued across the water. Jack tells me I am too critical and must be more open to the experience. I am open – opened to a concept that from the helicopter tours in the sky it was breathtaking. From a boat, we discovered later, it was incredible. Walking on it surrounded by others walking was simply boring. To become part of the art, I needed a minute to stop, stand and stare. I wanted to twirl and prance on the water. Take out my notebook and write a sonnet. I wanted to live the art. A forced march across the lake – well it brought to mind things that were not so pleasant. When we reached Monte Isola, the little island upon which the yellowish road continues to the next Floating Pier, it was so crowded that there was no way to even grab a bottle of water or a snack. Every little bar was packed. The roads were packed. Someday, we will come back to this lovely little island. It must be scrumptious in March. – devoid of tourists. We saw a sign for a ferry back to Sulzano and had a pleasant ride over the lake, past the piers. They looked fabulous from the water. I’m so glad we got to see them.