Interview with Daniele Matterazzo
Why do we like to walk? Why do we leave the comfort of our home to go somewhere, to move? What is the point of leaving what we know to walk into the unknown?
There is perhaps, beneath this impulse, an inherent optimism that makes us think that the unknown can be better than what we already know. There is in walking, in moving, an attunement with Nature, with all that is original around us: reality is in constant motion and we, while we are walking, move with her. By feeling and not resisting a nomadic, hidden and sometimes forgotten impulse, we are simply indulging our nature, knowing it so knowing ourselves. The constant changing of the landscape as we put one foot in front of the other reveal us the evidence that what always remains is us. It could happen that, at the end of a journey, we discover ourselves more familiar, more sure of who we are precisely because we have taken the time to listen a little, in silence, to ourselves.
Let’s start from the end, from your last long-distance walk, the King’s Path in Lapland.
For me it was a new trail which I undertook, as I am used to, solo. However, there were differences: the weight of the rucksack was more than 20 kg (44 lb)… not simple for someone like me, who barely weighs more than 60 kg (130 lb)[read here for more information on how to prepare a rucksack ed]. The kilometers were reduced compared to past trails but the technical difficulties certainly increased. That’s what I was looking for!
Walking 20 km (13 mi) or more every day, carrying a backpack, is not easy: how do you prepare for a trail? Is there any specific training?
I spend my free time walking: in my backyard there are the Euganean Hills [Veneto region in Italy ed], my wonderful natural gym.
When I’m about to leave, I try to walk about 10 km (6 mi) or more per day, but it is not easy to combine training with working day. In the trails you have plenty of time, in everyday life we have to deal with obligations and commitments so walking long distances is not always possible.
I try to have a few days off, usually the weekend, where I stay out and give myself both days to prepare and walk, to feel like a wayfarer again, or something like that.
I must admit that I am lucky to have always been an athletic guy so it is not difficult for me to get fit. I organized the first trail, the Camino de Santiago, in a hurry, one month after deciding I was already in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port.
When and why did you make the decision to walk, to be a modern pilgrim?
Three years ago I was at home watching the film The Way to Santiago. I distinctly remember that I couldn’t sleep at night, I was thinking about the journey, the walk, the incredible experience it would be. My mother had already understood everything, perhaps before me. I didn’t hesitate and for the first time I listened to myself, even though everything seemed against me. It was summer 2020, the first of the pandemic: after one month I was in Saint-Jean, the starting point of the French Trail to Santiago de Compostela.
I did the first trail for myself. It was a leap of faith, I had not even dreamed of walking so many kilometers. I wanted something that could give me the possibility of having an authentic experience, where I was forced to leave all the certainties I had and which were also the things that oppressed me the most. In the trails, I like leaving everything behind, abandoning what is not essential. I love the fact of being in that metaphysical reality that is being outside ‘home’, outside what is known, but also simply being outdoors. I feel that being outdoors is my dimension: it makes me feel good.
“It was a leap of faith, I had not even dreamed of walking so many kilometers. I wanted something that could give me the possibility of having an authentic experience”