Andrea Girardi, the man who let himself die in the woods of Fiemme

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He had no problem, he had no debts, he had no stormy love affairs, bad business, he did not take drugs, there was nothing – in the apparent banality of life – that could have predicted his death. Yet it is a few days ago that she was recognized thanks to her three tattoos: she showed them on the air “Who saw it?”, A friend recognized them. She written in Celtic runes, arrows and helmets. He had drawn them himself at the age of seventeen, a distinctive sign that today has allowed investigators to give a name to the corpse found in the woods of Fiemme on 2 May in a makeshift bed. No documents, no credit cards. But in all likelihood (he expects certainty from the DNA) that is precisely the body of Andrea Girardi, 44 years old of Villadose (Rovinj). Who knows if in his being particularly intelligent, exceptional and at the same time shy – as he is described – he will have wondered what words would have followed at the end of him, what the newspapers would have written about him. Because he seems to have foreseen his end in everything, perhaps even in the details of the epilogue.

Andrea leaves home saying that he is going to work in Switzerland, nobody knows anything about him anymore, but his parents are used to his disappearances. It’s last summer, his body will only be found now, in May, but he didn’t die right away. Andrea retires to the woods, has a calendar, on which July 30 notes the beginning of his fast. The last entry is from this October. Then, in all likelihood, death came, he let himself starve. At the base of the calendar there is an inscription: «Crematemi».

Andrea Girardi was at least a determined type: at the age of twenty he left his home and joined the foreign legion, he disappeared, no one had heard of him again, then he returned home. He changed his life many times, in Germany he became the pastry chef of a fine dining restaurant, then he had returned to live with his parents and was a house painter, like his father. “He just had a slightly irascible character and when he decided to leave he did it and didn’t make himself heard for months – he said the younger brother Riccardo to the Corriere della Sera –. He has changed his life many times: as a young man he was a paratrooper in the foreign legion, then he became a goldsmith, lately he studied mechanical engineering and worked as a house painter to support himself and contribute to the expenses of the house. For some years he had been living with our parents. He had a boundless culture, spoke four languages, you could discuss everything with him, of astronomy as of politics, history and current affairs, he was always informed. But while I’m very outgoing, married and a father, he’s always been reserved and lonely. When he had to make an important decision he isolated himself and after a few months he called and said: I’m here, come and see me ».

“I am convinced that he planned everything first and with care – adds the brother interviewed by the newspaper – that’s how he was. And he didn’t do it at home because he knew our parents would notice. He lately he had let himself go a bit, he had gained weight, but before leaving he seemed to have gone on a diet, he wanted to get back into the game, he had great willpower, he faced chest problems. We would never have imagined such a gesture. We didn’t look for him because he always behaved like this – adds his brother – he disappeared and he would be very angry if we didn’t respect his desire to be alone. He was independent, he didn’t care about money, he wanted to be free and when he came back he was more affectionate ».

So did he purposely let himself die? It seems so, because if there was anyone who could survive in the woods it was him: during the years of the foreign legion and he had trained to become a sniper, he was devoted to resistance, he was an expert in survival: he hunted with bare hands, ate raw prey, left no traces, lived in the woods as an animal could, alongside men but invisible. He had participated in secret missions, in Djibouti and in French Guinea, he had passed from that life to that of a house painter in a small town in the Veneto region.

His life alone in the woods, his isolation from everything and everyone is reminiscent of Chris McCandless, the hero of Into the WildSean Penn’s film based on a true story told by author John Krakauer. Chris also allegedly died of starvation (or because of what in English is called “rabbit starvation”, the disease of the caribou, a malnutrition that affects those who have a diet provided by an excessive consumption of lean meat without other sources of nutrients, such as fats and carbohydrates). Chris also died alone in the woods, but he didn’t want to die. Had Andrea really chosen him? Certainly he could easily interrupt his hiding from the world. Maybe he didn’t want to.

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Source: Vanity Fair

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