Cycling in the name of the father

Ciao Pirlo! charts pop star’s ride from Barcelona to Milan with dad’s ashes

Ciao Pirlo! follows musician Oscar D’Aniello on his 12-day ride to Italy.
Ciao Pirlo! follows musician Oscar D’Aniello on his 12-day ride to Italy.

There are some stories that restore your faith in humanity in these dark times. One of these is told in Ciao Pirla!, a 75-minute documentary charting the emotional journey of a man who one day loaded his dad’s ashes on to the handlebars of his bike and pedaled 1,369 kilometers to the town of his father’s birth, Desio, just outside Milan, and then on to Lake Como to scatter them.

What makes the tale even more interesting is that the man who undertook this remarkable 12-day trip is a well-known figure on the Spanish music scene: Oscar D’Aniello, formerly of Mishima and now singer in Barcelona band Delafé y Las Flores Azules, whose songs feature on the soundtrack of Bigas Luna’s My Name is Juani.

His film is a surprising and extraordinarily moving mixture of adventure, personal challenges, cycling (one of D’Aniello’s passions), music (it features footage of his band recording their fourth album, De mí sin tí) and, above all, filial love.

The journey is a voyage of discovery, full of sadness and joy, during which D’Aniello gradually bares his soul as he pedals. The film features encounters with professional cyclists, including multiple world mountain bike champion, José Antonio Hermida, and Tour de France stage winner Joaquim “Purito” Rodríguez, who both accompany the singer for a stretch of his journey to talk about sport and life.

At Wednesday’s presentation of the film, D’Aniello explained how he lost his father to cancer during the creation of the new album and how that loss permeated all the songs. He had bought train tickets so he and his father could travel back to his Italian birthplace and say goodbye to his relatives there. His death put paid to that plan, but D’Aniello swore to take his ashes by bike. After learning about his scheme, many people offered their support and the idea of making the documentary emerged.

“When he explained to us what he was going to do, we were fascinated and we began a campaign to finance the project,” explained Carlos Sánchez-Llibre, one of the members of Los Cafeteros, the collective that directed the movie.

The film crew accompanied him on his journey, providing support and inspiration. The documentary begins with D’Aniello’s preparations and his partner, Helena Miquel, music producer Paco Loco and his Italian uncles giving their support, before following his ride from its first moments, as he carries his bike down the stairs of his house. The scenes of his trip are interspersed with footage from before and after and flashbacks to the singer’s life.

All the proceeds from the documentary, which does not yet have a theatrical release date but will accompany the new album (out March 12) in DVD form, are set to go to the charity Pallapupas.

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