Cycling the Countryside!

Cycling the Countryside!

What does being in nature really mean? Is it watching a storm pass in the distance in anticipation for the spark of thunder to light the night sky? Or the last glimpse of the sun as it falls beneath a mountain peak? Does being shown an indescribable sight justify the appreciation of the moment itself?

Now, be honest. You had your camera and took a picture of that thunderbolt and the last sliver of that sunset. You experienced the moment but failed to be present in it. Which is the reality based on the obsession in our society: we take pictures of everything. This truth is no surprise as we are all aware of the multitude of photos filling up our devices. Of course, I am no rebel to this “pic-edemic” and shamelessly contribute to it. We are all in a rush to capture that next compelling moment on our smartphone camera just to have it be so easily deleted in the next. Which is why there is a need for days of solitude in nature, without devices, to clear the mind like no other.


FAI’s Via Lattea is the metaphor for this connection between man and environment with distractions by the pictorial experience of the screen of the mind. Yet, there is a palpable separation in which only we as human beings can fix. Moreover, the May 17th Via Lattea: The Parks around Expo from Trenno Park to Settimo Milanese was a perfect way to spend a day with and in nature. The total route was 22 km spanning through the serene countryside. Starting from MM1 S. Leonardo, I was met by a plethora of FAI volunteers who were extremely kind and helpful. It was wonderful to see so many like-minded people coming together in support of the environment we all share. When you’re cycling, the methodical movements allow for a cathartic experience. When I am on my bike all problems seem to diminish. You rely only on yourself. It is truly a focus on the fullest expression of your being.

The bike path was led by helpful signs to direct the way. The first stop was Parco di Trenno – War Graves Cemetery. Next stop, a guided tour led by the Restoration Department of the Polytechnic of Milan, of the Cascina l’Interno, the ancient farmhouse built around a courtyard and a prolific example of rural architecture. Owned by the Municipality of Milan, which is in the process of a restoration of the structure. At each stop, stands with local artisans and produce were available. Furthermore, volunteers were available for information.

I stopped for a lunch break at the fourth site, Parco delle Cave. This park of 135 hectares covers an area once occupied by gravel and sand quarries which were closed in the 1960’s. The park was opened to the public thanks to the work of the Italia Nostra association and its urban forestation unit plus local volunteers. It has 4 lakes where it is possible to go fishing as well as many springs, paths and natural beauty. Additionally, the park contains farmland-growing wheat, water meadows, vegetable gardens and fruit orchards entrusted to local farmers. It was truly a wonderful place to sit with nature and my thoughts; watching the clouds pass by reflecting off the pristine lake. Lastly, while riding my bike I saw a pavone or a peacock! It was truly breathtaking.

It is with such gratitude that these words find FAI’s Via Lattea & ExpoinCittà. The opportunity to find peace in nature is essential. The foundation makes it possible for all. FAI restores, re-opens to the public and manages the properties that are entrusted to us so that they may become places to experience and not simply to admire. With the Italian Places I Love survey, for 10 years FAI has been engaging with the Italian people and mobilizing them to help protect artistic and natural sites that are in danger. Additionally, every year, the FAI Education Department involves thousands of teachers and pupils in projects geared towards informing about the environment and Italy’s heritage. Can’t wait for the upcoming FAI Via Lattea Events. The next is May 31st... Get out there an explore nature with FAI’s Via Lattea!

What are you doing for the good of nature today? Post using the hashtag #Expoincittà and tell us!

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