Rome, day 11, but not in Rome. I’m in the Lazio countryside recording coasts, forests, ruins.
Took a commuter train down to Anzio, a coastal village, to explore the coast and nearby forests. Taking the train observing tired immigrants and commuters was interesting. Arrived last night. I’m staying at a friendly family-run hotel, who had some bikes to lend. Since sunrise I’ve been roaming the coast on a shabby bike.
Navigating tiny roads, dead-ends, beaches, fenced-off areas, towers, thorny paths, it’s been a strange adventure with surprisingly little usable audio and video results. Except for this one superbly spooky sound with a sordid backstory.
Around 9 this morning I was passing through the area south-east of Nezzuno. It’s mostly endless roads, with heavy traffic. I headed south, passed a huge military complex on one side and shabby industrial slots or abandoned farms on the other, a splendid non-place.
Then suddenly, there was this scantily dressed African lady sitting in a white plastic chair by the roadside, in the middle of nowhere, next to a pile of trash. WTF. We both looked really puzzled at each other. Did I really see that? And then after a few bends and turns, another lady… and then another. What on earth. They look completely out of place. Prostitutes? But what are they doing here, in exceptionally rural areas, at 9 in the morning?
I kind of forgot about them because I suddenly found an abandoned gas station and explored it for interesting sounds, without much success, too much traffic from passing cars.
I decided to head for something that looked like a forest on the map. By some back-roads I came upon it and found a path inside, usable for my shabby bike. Wonderfully quiet and the trees gave shade for the sun. After some time biking aimlessly through the woods just looking at things, I suddenly came upon … a road. And a prostitute. Next to a pile of trash.
This was exceptionally surreal. There was nothing, just forest, a dirt road, and the tiny path continuing on the other side of the road. She did not acknowledge me, I quietly tried to not exist and simultaneously pretend everything was absolutely normal, and just passed by her, continuing into the forest. Nothing else, no traffic, no buildings.
And then just a few meters into the woods… I come across a super dirty mattress on the ground, and a pile of trash. Uuuuh. This was getting really sad, and also a bit scary. The peaceful, shady forest I thought I was exploring, started turning into this seedy, strange place of unfamiliar trees, shapes in the bushes, a stalking sun, attacking buzzy insects, screaming birds, and probably human trafficking. And who knows what else could be here, this is too much of reality, where is my airy contemporary art museum cafe, this is sad, strange, and scary. I quickly headed deeper into the forest, trying to put the observations behind me as quickly as possible, and the path became smaller and smaller, almost disappearing, I was going as fast I could, on sandy, muddy paths, started getting cuts and rifts from thorns and bushes, the forest stank of stale water and rotting plants.
Then I come upon this strange, ugly-beautiful lake, and finally stop for a breath.
It’s eerily quiet, just a few birds and insects calling out to each other. It stills smells a bit rotten. There’s the wreck of a boat. Some litter on the ground. I stay there for a while gathering my thoughts, and decided to record the atmosphere.
Here it is, in slow motion, simply played back at 25% of original speed. A strange and wild sound from a surreal – or maybe too real – day.