Born in Italy’s Marches region, Ernaldo (Emerson) Gattafoni is a familiar face on national television: a writer, presenter and director of several successful travel and discovery programs, many on a motorcycle; and even with two Piaggio Ape Calessino vans, on which he set off with the crew of the “Road Italy” program to discover excellent Italian products; for television, Gattafoni has also made documentaries and investigative reports, and for many years he has been the director of the humanitarian project “Roadway for Africa”: a mobile hospital that provides assistance for rural villagers and nomads.
The leitmotif of Gattafoni’s entire personal and professional life as a world “discoverer” and film-maker is travel, beginning with that first solo trip in 1976 at the age of 18. Forty years later, between April and May, he repeated the journey on the same moped (a Piaggio Ciao 50cc), following the same route, from his hometown of Pesaro to Marrakech, in Morocco. More than 3,400 km, via France and Spain, riding slowly, along the provincial roads.
Invited to the Rai 1 “Unomattina” program, presented by Francesca Fialdini and Franco Di Mare, Emerson Gattafoni explained why he wanted to repeat his journey from 40 years ago: “It was my first important trip, at the age of 18 and a half, on the legendary Ciao. I felt the time had come, for personal not TV reasons, to do it again as a tribute to that first youthful adventure which changed my life: that journey was the start of my career, the experience changed my way of thinking.”
(Frames from the Rai 1 “Unomattina” program, broadcast on 26 May 2016).
“In addition, I wanted to make a point for today’s youngsters, who were born in the digital age; they have dreams but probably in front of a computer, whereas knowledge comes from experience. Achieving a naïve, surreal dream as I did on my Ciao 40 years ago is very important in life. I owe everything to that trip: my way of thinking and looking at the world, understanding changing paths, discovering people, places, cultures. So I set off again on my Ciao: three weeks on my own, which was also an opportunity to reflect on my life.”
Emerson was perfectly organised when he left: his moped was fitted out down to the smallest detail, with a “celebratory” plaque fitted above the headlamp, a “registration plate” with his name and an adhesive of the Italian flag, and a personalised helmet. He remembers his first trip: “In 1976 there were no mobile phones, communication was difficult and travelling to Morocco really was an adventure. It was a period of political and social difficulties in Italy; I was a rock ‘n roll boy, I listened to rock music and dreamed of adventures. It’s great travelling on a motorcycle, but a Ciao is all you need to go, the wind in your face, to explore places and people, smells and experiences, in the company of your thoughts.” Emerson is an expert two-wheel traveller, but very careful about safety: “Forty years, even though it wasn’t compulsory, I was already wearing a crash helmet.” A great example for the youngsters.
As soon as he was back from the Pesaro-Marrakech trip, after his TV interview with “Unomattina” program, Emerson set off again, travelling around the USA and Canada, taking in Boston, Maine and the Great Lakes area and Quebec, in preparation for the 2016 season of his program “Dreams Road”, which will air in the autumn on Rai 1. Other dreams, other roads, other journeys.
The photos illustrating this article are taken from the Gattafoni/Dreams Road social channels and from the “La Banda del Ciao” community.