An Italian artist in Târgu Frumos

"The life is beautiful to see and to live and the world is too big. Don’t use social media for nothing. Learn, don’t use stereotypes, ask questions, when, why, who… don’t be afraid to ask about life!” says Sandro smiling to me, when I told him to share with me a piece of advice that he would give to the young people from Târgu Frumos. He stayed six months here, in this tiny town, doing activities at the ASIRYS Youth Center, gathering people who wanted to learn more about art and his way of expressing emotion.

Sandro Piliu comes from Italy, Sardinia and says about himself that he’s a “little artist”, even if all the people around him declare that he’s much more than that. He has a lot of different talents and passions, but the most important one is the art of tattoos. He decided to come here, in Romania, because of his desire to find more and more about life and what it has to offer. “I get easily bored, I want to see outside the island.” He confessed that when he found the opportunity to come here, he was crossing a boring period of his life and saw it as a good chance to discover a new country, meet new people and create new memories.

Even if he’s only 27, he has a collage of experiences that he never hesitated to share with all the people who showed interest in his story. “I was jumping from work to work, mostly tattooing.” But he has also been working in different Italian restaurant, where he developed his passion for cooking. He likes to identify and experience the cuisine that represents a specific culture, “I like to taste the true food in different countries”. For all the six months he spent here, he cooked everyday fresh meals not only for him, but also for the other international volunteers, who were grateful for the dedication that he showed during all the time, preparing the food for everyone, with an amazing availability to do it for the entire house. “Romanian food is fat because here is very cold, and you have Turkish influence, but sarmale, papanași and tortizi with brânză are very good!”

Sandro likes the story of Dracula a lot and he has discovered that Romania it’s totally different than what he expected before coming here. “Italians have stereotypes, that Romanians steal, are violent, are thief, it’s a poor country, but no, it’s not true.” Even if he misses the sea of his island, the tattooing from his life, and of course, the espresso and the Italian pizza, he was impressed that in our country, there are “opportunities to expose your art.” Since he is very interested in drawing and painting, the cultural life that he discovered here was a point of reference when he is talking about Romania and what he likes here. “Italy is a closed circle. It’s hard and expensive to share art, expose your art. In Romania they help you, enter in a hub and see art, not only in galleries.” 

The Italian artist came in Târgu Frumos trough ERASMUS+, a program that gives you the opportunity to learn and to travel in different projects. He arrived in the Youth Center trough Arts Lab project, under the European Volunteering Service (EVS) umbrella. Sandro recognizes that he experienced a cultural shock in his first days here, but the family moments with the other European volunteers, the “enjoying, smiling” and the fact that “people want to have a conversation, are not cold”, created a comfortable environment for him. “My expression trough art helped me a lot” and he remembers with pleasure when a family that speaks Italian invited him for dinner. Nothing is impossible, even if it seems hard in the beginning.

He visited different regions from Romania and Transylvania impressed him the most because of its story and nature. In Târgu Frumos, he observed that “people are hard workers and poor, but chill because it’s a little town”. Sandro says it’s beautiful, because he got into the details here, like different types of minds and characters, especially cultures.

At the Youth Center, he mostly improved his English. When he first came here, he barely knew how to present himself and we needed a translator to communicate with him, but now he is able to express himself and to talk to people without any fear. The desire to communicate broke the language barrier. Trough all the activities that he did here, he says that the teamwork and improvisation were the abilities that he improved the most. “I hope the center will have a lot of new volunteers, it’s important for them, they can change things in future.” He also says that people helped him a lot here, especially when he felt confused, and knows that he helped people as well, to “open their mind in relation with art”.

Sandro likes hiking, walking in the forest to observe nature, he loves animals, he is interested in kayak canoe and music. He wishes to travel more and inspire people with and trough his art, to find different cultures and personal life stories to get more artistic. His volunteering months finished in September, but he didn’t leave without letting his print. “I wanted to give the youth center a sign to remember these six months.” He did a colorful murals on the Voluntari Street, down the future ACT 4 Sustainable Development hub and new volunteering center in Târgu Frumos.

Interview by Ioana Ursache 


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