When my friend Josh mentioned the words ‘Christo’ and ‘walking on water’ in the same sentence and invited me along I wasn’t entirely sure what he was proposing. With a little clarification he told me that the famous ‘building-wrapper’ Christo was doing a project on Lago d’Iseo in June which involved a series of three floating piers which would stretch from the shore of the lake to the island in the middle – Monte Isola (the largest inhabited island of European Lakes). It seemed like a pretty interesting concept and I couldn’t remember having ever had the experience of ‘walking on water’ before. Arrangements were made and at 4 am on Sunday morning a motley crew of 18 bleary eyed water walkers from England, Scotland, American, Italy and France met at Verona Sud and headed to the lake.
Feeling pretty pleased with ourselves as we arrived at the seemingly quiet queue at 6 am,
our high spirits were quickly dashed when we heard a rumour that they weren’t opening the piers until 8:00, and on further inspection we realised we weren’t as close to the front as we had first thought… 3 and a half hours later (when we’d all had second thoughts about the trip) we were on the piers.
The first thing that really stood out was the colour. It was pretty cloudy but bright and with the contrast of the dark blue/black of the lake, the green of the mountain and the white of the sky it really did make a statement. Christo himself said the best way to experience it was barefoot, so most of us whipped off the socks and shoes and pattered along the yellow path. It definitely was the best way to experience it. It only being the second day, I didn’t have any qualms about getting the feet out and I was surprised that many people did the same. I thought Italians would be far too hygienic to try it out – but as I looked closer many did keep their socks on – just to be on the safe side.
Apart from the long wait at the beginning where there seemed to be no one in charge to let you know what was happening, on the actual pier it was much better. There were people handing out samples of the yellow/saffron material used to cover the jetty (which was special designed in Germany), and were also making sure no one got too close to the edge. Police were on jet skies and in boats in case anyone decided to take a dip or a selfie went wrong.
One of the strange things about it was the calmness of it all. Ok, once off the first pier there was a mad rush for toilets, coffee and panini, but walking along the pier with that many people was actually quite peaceful. Maybe we were all tired from getting up so early – but there really was an amazing sense of something special taking place. It wasn’t just something to see but something to interact with. You could feel the movement of the water which was calm and relaxing – for those who don’t suffer from sea-sickness. There were people from all walks of life. Our group alone had a mix of nationalities, ages and a few artists which all gave different perspectives to the art.
All in all it was fantastic. The early start and even the threat of rain didn’t put a dampener on the day. It felt that we were not only there to see Christo’s Floating Piers, but that we were there to be a part of it. We even saw the famous artist observing his fine work from a boat. It was certainly an alternative Sunday and one which I’d love to repeat… but maybe I’ll wait until I catch up on my sleep.