Our vendors: Marcello (Scarp de’ tenis, Milan, Italy)

By Stefano Lampertico, Scarp de’ tenis

Marcello has long, messy, dark hair and a captivating smile. He looks a lot younger than 61 and his crystal-clear speech with a slight Piedmont accent does not reveal his history of depression and life on the streets.

“I was born and raised in Cuneo, though my dad was from Sicily,” Marcello recounts. “But I left home at the age of 20, in part due to ongoing disagreements with my siblings.” After working here and there throughout Italy, I stopped in Parma. There, I met my future wife. I stayed there for 11 years. I had a good life there. I had a job that I liked, a wife, a nice home. Everything was good. But then…”

A quick shadow passes over Marcello’s smiling face. “At a certain point, my wife didn’t love me anymore,” he says. “And my world came crashing down on me. I fell into a deep depression. I never left the house, I didn’t answer the phone and I didn’t want to see anyone. I fell into a deep, black hole. Eventually, I lost everything: my family, my job and my house. It took four long years to get out of that situation. But I did it. And I left.”

For a few years, Marcello – who had always worked as a painter – made his way around construction sites throughout Italy. “There wasn’t an economic crisis yet,” he recalls. “I went to construction sites and I got hired. I would stay four or five months, just enough time to make some money, and then I would leave. I didn’t talk to, or connect, with anyone. I just wanted to be alone; to find myself again. Then I came to Milan. And the recession began.”

Having lost his job, Marcello was no longer able to find any stable work and ended up sleeping on the street. “I alternated between the street and the shelter,” he recounts. “Then one day, I came across Scarp de’ tenis. That was my lucky day.”

Today, Marcello is a Scarp vendor, but he also does some other odd jobs. “I just have a few more years until I retire,” he says. “Scarp is helping me during this period, and I would like to give back a bit of what I have received over these years. When I retire, I would like to help someone who has ended up on the streets, like I did.”

Translated from Italian by kmkamm / Translators Without Borders