Interview with Matteo, on foot from Milan to Rome to raise funds for multiple sclerosis

Last June 1, departure from Milan: today he arrived in the capital after 25 days of walking (and 14 days of rest)

800 kilometers24 stages, 25 day walk. It is Matteo Valenzisi’s journey, 22 years from Como, who has decided to cross Italy on foot to raise money to donate to the Italian Multiple Sclerosis Association. The adventure began last June 1st June from Milan and ended today, July 9th, when it reached Rome at 4.30pm. “I want to walk 700 km with the aim of collecting at least 700 €, 1 € for every kilometer traveled”, he had repeated. He managed to accumulate more than double what he hoped: to date, the fundraising he started can boast 1,700 euros from 91 donors. And the number continues to rise.

“I sat down to get to know my country”

An impressive result, also achieved thanks to the power of social media. Through TikTok and Instagram, Matteo has actually started documenting his adventure and attracting the attention of users who have decided to make a donation on the Aism portal. “It seemed easy to get noticed for such an out-of-the-ordinary undertaking,” he says Open. And to think that it all started almost randomly: Matteo actually had no previous experience of trekking.

“I have studied Graphic Design in Denmark for three years at Aalborg University,” he explains. The distance from home, combined with the two-year lockdown from Covid, has fueled the desire to travel to discover Italy. “I would like to see many places around the country. I put all the points together and I devised the route, ”he continues. A demanding undertaking that would have required time: for this reason, Matteo wanted his journey to have “a purpose”. “I talked about it with one of my friends who introduced me to the reality of aism. I asked, I talked to them, and after hearing what they do, I convinced myself to go this route for their union. … His friend, however, had no intention of following him: “In the beginning they took me for a madman.”

Stop tendonitis

Matteo therefore started alone, but along the way he got to know people all over Italy. From Milan he reached Bologna and from there he crossed Emilia. It passed the Apennines through Via degli Dei, reached Florence and then arrived in Siena and took Via Francigena. Which finally allowed him to land in the capital. But not everything went smoothly: after a few days, he was actually hit by tendonitis due to the unusual effort. “I had to stop for a few weeks at my boyfriend’s house in Modena. I had driven too many kilometers, and when I was totally inexperienced, my body gave in, ”he continues. An obligatory break, after which the journey resumed its course.

“Strangers have opened the doors to their house for me”

Matteo left with his tent, but he only used it for three days. “For every place I reached, I wrote a post on Facebook asking for hospitality in local groups,” he says. Not only did he find it in almost every case, but he also had unexpected manifestations of generosity: “I remember a woman, single mother of an eight-year-old boy, who lived in a house with only one room. To accommodate me, she went in bed with a friend and left the apartment for me, ”she says.

In Viterbo, a girl with multiple sclerosis who knew his story on social media even decided to join him: they traveled together to Rome. “Thanks to this journey and the people I met, I feel I have changed a lot. It was my first trip, but it will certainly not be my last,” he concludes. But if the journey is over, the collection continues: It will be possible to support Matteo’s campaign by making a donation at this link, active until the end of July.

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