Since I was a child I have been fascinated by stories, especially those of fantasy. When I started taking care of people, I discovered an inexhaustible source of incredible fantastic stories. Our cells, our genes, are the chroniclers of the epic of our lives.
The Purpose of Life Is to Discover Your Gift. The Meaning of Life Is to Give Your Gift Away.
Born in Florence, in 1980, as a child I was shy and closed. During my adolescence I developed a desire to emerge, tired of losing opportunities, I worked on myself to overcome my blocks and limits. My exuberance has grown to fuel that pride wounded by years of misunderstanding, injustice, lack of sensitivity and empathy on the part of the family, the school, the companions and friends. Nothing exaggerated, a normal childhood of a normal boy of an average western family. A boy perhaps a little too sensitive and out of line to find a normal life as satisfying. A dreamer, lover of adventure stories, romantic, in search of justice and heroism. A naive man who soon had to deal with the harshness of life, to the point of reaching the typical cynicism of those who can no longer see poetry in the world. This “wound of the heart” has allowed me from a young age to be sensitive and attentive to the emotions of other people and slowly become a sought-after confidant. Although I was not at the top in Italian as a school subject, at least according to my professors, I enjoyed writing poetry and stories.
Vocation or not?
The turning point
After few years, during my university period in which my energy and desire to emerge did not find fulfilment in any specific field, I approached the profound meditation of Gianvittorio Cappelletto, founder of the Ricostruttori nella Preghiera. It took little time for a rebel and revolutionary like me, unable to adapt to ordinary life, to find his own dimension in that religious community. Despite my strong Catholic background, because of my family and social context, I had embraced atheism for at least six years. Thanks to (or because of) the Ricostruttori I have rediscovered a spirituality and a religiosity that I didn’t think possible.
My monk’s life
So, at the age of 23, I decided to become a monk. Intense, demanding, if not even arduous moments follow one another, but they were also extremely fruitful. The community was structured to put meditation and the philosophy of yoga at the centre. Although it was (and still is) a Catholic Christian community, openness to other spiritual traditions was remarkable. Meditation 4 times a day, asanas (yoga positions), pranayama (breathing), ascetic practices such as being vegetarian, fasting twice a month, sleeping on the ground, cold showers. Men and women lived together with a certain harmony. The three monastic vows were taken extremely seriously, poverty, chastity and obedience, especially the latter, which often became militaristic. We worked as masons, to rebuild (hence the name Ricostruttori aka Rebuilders) old ruins and turn them into spiritual centres from which to spread the profound meditation. During these years I studied Philosophy and Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, getting the degree.
A peculiar aspect of this community, which they have always tried to hide and for which they have been accused several times, was the massive presence of esotericism and relative initiations. Which was obviously one of the aspects that attracted me the most. So I also knew part of the esoteric world and received some interesting initiations. Unfortunately this trend, due to the criticisms and accusations, has more and more faded in the background and with the death of the founder, we can say that it has almost disappeared. In environments of this type there is a strong collective belief in the spiritual superiority of the founder and some of his followers (especially the former ones), so that having different ideas, experiences and intuitions is a sign of “blasphemy”.
I cannot thank enough for those years that have allowed my sensitive and complicated personality to flourish slowly. Thanks to the discipline, to spiritual and psychological guidance, to meditation, to community life that allowed a continuous confrontation and exchange of ideas and reflections, I have profoundly enriched myself for all that concerns every aspect of life. Manual work, cohabitation, study, service to others. Although we were monks, we devoted much of our time to the so-called apostolate, which was nothing but organizing events such as conferences, courses of various kinds, shows, concerts, parties to attract people and introduce them to meditation.
We were always surrounded by people, listening to their problems, motivating them in their dreams, welcoming them for what they were. My ability to listen, to give advice, to empathize and to discern was further developed: it was the best training and workbench with the human soul that was possible. I knew, met, listened to hundreds and hundreds of people. I learned so much from them, what they gave me is immeasurable. Being guided, having constant meetings with my guide, being followed closely and at the same time dedicating myself to others, following them, for years, was the best school I could wish for.
My own writing has gradually matured to the point of leading me to generate a series of initiatory and inner research stories, the first of which was published in 2008 by the magazine Appunti di Viaggio, with the title The source of love.
All that is gold does not glitter. The difficulties within the community were certainly not lacking, indeed. In those years I started to lose my hair (and genetics has nothing to do with it, since in my family everyone has and had hair until their death) because of a dubious quality of the food products (living in poverty we ate what we got from offers) and in the diet, mainly based on carbohydrates; moreover the stress given by a military obedience has given its important contribution to the fact that slowly my hair greeted me forever. In fact, among the three monastic vows, obedience was certainly the one by I was challenged the most. Initially, being young and eager to learn, it was easier for me to obey blindly, to set aside my self. Then, when my personality began to flourish, frictions became stronger and stronger.
As a typical Italian from Florence, I have never been able to give up my goliardic spirit and this is certainly not an aspect that a religious community can tolerate. As long as the founder Gianvittorio Cappelletto was alive, he defended me (as he did with many others) from the attacks of bigoted, rigid and obtuse brethren. With his death, his protection has failed and the new leader himself, an extremely closed and clerical character, fearful of everything, did not see in good taste my exuberant, goliardic and out of line character. So, after 7 years from the beginning of my monastic life, finding no more those values and intents of the principle, thanks to a pilgrimage in India, I decided to leave the community to find my personal dimension of living my spirituality.
The “Vita Nova”
Dying, we begin to live
Going back to “normal” life was all but easy. Starting a new life at 30 moneyless, without attractive work experience, without friends (because old friends had organized themselves without me) was not at all easy. I went from working with children in summer camps, to teaching religion in high school, then doing massage and holistic treatments in a spa. Because in the meantime the passion for those oriental disciplines, related to the well-being of the person, had developed in me, such as Shiatsu, Thai massage, Tuina; I had experienced them when I was a monk (they had complementary medicine clinics). I also deepen my yoga knowledge and skill and got certified as a teacher in India, in Rishikesh. My love for the East has grown so much that I go there every year for training courses and for the pure pleasure of travelling and being immersed in their culture.
I made an anthology of my stories, driven by friends and acquaintances, and I published it as my first book called Stories Around the Fire, in 2014, for the Zerounoundici publishing house. Currently available in the second edition for Amazon. Soon will be released the English version!
I also had shamanic experiences like Ayahuasca in which I discovered the world of entheogenic substances, which gave me many answers to experiences already made in meditation.
Not finding good salaries in Italy, in 2016 I left it for Ireland, with the intention of seeking “fortune and glory” and improving my English. There I trained as a Life Coach, giving a socially recognized name to my passion and dedication to help and support each other. The experience was fruitful from all points of view but, no longer bearing the cold, damp and sun-deficient climate, I moved to Greece, where I continued to follow my “vocation”, free from any kind of connotation religious, political, cultural, to dedicate myself better to listening, welcoming and motivating those who cross my path.
Then I left Greece, deciding to embark on a long journey in the East in search of all kinds of experiences, but above all related to spirituality, Oriental medicine, holistic disciplines and the relationship with people beyond the mere filter of business.