The disappearance of Gianni Minà was a collective loss, the end of the twentieth century.
The evening confuses spring and winter and sends shivers down your spine because you’re wearing light clothes. The wind whips bodies and minds. Rome is wrapped in a pastel-colored sky and its rapid clouds draw different scenarios every time. A city that embodies the short century and that, better than anyone else, captures the sense of dying in beauty. Its streets are open veins like the South American ones told by Galeano and which scatter the voices of the least, especially if you arrive near Termini. He threatens rain and you seek shelter among the imposing marbles of the station, cigarette in one hand and news on the screen in the other, until you realize that precisely that short century, which the Roman walls exude, can be said to be finished, complete, closed. Especially in his most effective, decisive and dry narration. Family members give news, via social media, of the death of Gianni Minà.
This time it’s not the “giannetta” that whips your face but the disappearance of a person who, although not known, has indelibly marked your moment of intellectual growth. A person through whom you have fantasized that you can converse with Fidel Castro, Maradona, Sergio Leone, Robert De Niro, i Beatles, Garcia Marquez, Troisi… (making a list would be simplistic and trivial). Each of them certainly recognized him as a member of the family for his way of presenting himself and relating to him.
Maradona he considered him the only journalist to trust in the last turbulent Neapolitan years. He revealed emotions and anecdotes to him. He let himself go, he opened up as he was no longer able to do, besieged by the toxic love that the city of Naples had unloaded on him. So much so that the Maradona family, again through Facebook, commented on Minà’s disappearance with sweet words: “You never cheated on him”. A phrase that well captures the man’s kindness, the sensitivity with which Minà related to the older ones. If you can, close your eyes and listen to this interview. You will be overwhelmed by the fragility of Diego Maradona, by his humanity restored through dialogue with Minà.
Fidel Castro he loved to tell Minà Caribbean and personal revolutionary stories. She wanted him to include his travels because he knew how to grasp their meaning, deepen them and tell them like no other. In the dozens of documentaries and reportages that he signed, Gianni Minà put those characters in front of you. You started watching him interview a Head of State or an athlete and you found yourself there with them, in a conversation between friends.
South America seems to me to have traveled several times in his narratives. Minà was a verb and not a megaphone. In the hundreds of photos that portray him together with that variegated gallery of characters he frequented (photos that can be found on his websiteas well as anywhere on Google) her eyes are almost always dreamy and glittering. The thick mustache hides a sincere and enlightening smile. Exactly the same smile I would have had – that we would all have – in the same situation. Often the head is leaning on the shoulder of a neighbor as in a photo with one’s friends. Minà was one of the most important characters of the twentieth century like this: with naturalness and beauty. And so it went away, like Rome which is now slowly disappearing from the fast windows of my train. It dissipates, it recedes, it thins out. The same fate that touches the twentieth century, which would seem to still be within reach but which, instead, is inexorably gone once and for all. The echoes of him remain on the pages written by Minà, his distortions, his atrocities and his infinite wonders.
Everything is consumed and ends, it evaporates like an alcoholic memory of one night before. However, Minà himself teaches us that one can survive the passing of time, leave a trace of oneself in others, provided, however, that one relates to one’s neighbor keeping one’s eyes naively amazed, but always disenchanted. The eyes he had in looking at the world at first sight so brutal, but at the same time full of splendor, just like his South America.
In that famous photo with Ali, Leone, Marquez and De Niro, I too would have liked to be there, next to Minà, surrounded by the twentieth century, by his twentieth century, and by Rome. Surrounded by his decadent splendor that only Minà was able to make us imagine with his soft words like his tone of voice. With his rebellious spirit to which the southern hemisphere had taught so much, and to which he had given a pinch of his supremely Savoyard elegance. He had an idea, Minà: there isn’t a single difference between men, everyone is equal. And so she did, I bear witness.