At night, when we were kids, we used to ask to our parents to leave a light on. At least, until we’d fallen asleep. The reflection of a lamp, even if weak and temporary, was able to defeat the monsters hiding in the closet and to give us happy dreams.
If you think that you have overcome this childhood trauma, prove it to yourself and go to the number 7 of Via Vivaio, where there’s the Institute of the Blinds of Milan.
Milan, 2002. The Institute of the Blind comes up with an idea. Why not simulate, through a guided tour, what a blind person experiences every day?
The idea was immediately acclaimed and the first performance, staged at the Royal Palace, was so successful that, today, it is replicated daily in Via Vivaio.
To reach the Institute of the Blind, you have to enter the Quadrilatero del Silenzio, one of the quietest districts of Milan, where, at every corner, you can spot Art Nouveau façades and well-groomed gardens. The Institute is an elegant mansion surrounded by silence.
As far as for today, the Institute offers two different initiatives. The first, shorter and milder, is a happy hour in the dark. You will be guided by a blind guide in a completely dark room. Here you’ll sit and order something to drink, while eating some peanuts.
The second is a real journey: a guide will lead you through different daily-life scenarios, such as a busy road or a bridge over water. Everything, once again, plunged in the densest and complete darkness.
Getting into a dark space will leave more than a little uncomfortable. Clumsy and insecure, you will move around thanks to your stick: there will be unintentional trips, but all the “excuse me” will leave room for a surprise. In the short time you have at your disposal (about an hour) you will notice that the black surrounding you is not empty, but full of people, feelings and emotions. It’s like getting in touch not with a new reality, but instead with a reality that you already knew and that you are now rediscovering.
A reality of smells and flavors. Even the coffee that you will order at the bar will be different: pouring milk or sugar into the cup and not on the table is not as simple as you think!
Once out, your eyes will burn and you will struggle to keep them open. Your guide will not be there with you, he will remain a voice that helped you overcome small daily obstacles.
You will come back home happy and, this time, you’ll turn off the light for good.