The Nopo’s Arianna Meschia riding off on a 116-year-old adventure
Our nomadic narrator sets off on a bike journey from Rome to Marseille following her great-grandfather's epic bike ride in 1905 and raises money for a worthy cause on the way
Written by: Alice Shepherd for The Nopo
As a recent member of the Nopo’s ambitious community, Arianna is responsible for onboarding and encapsulating the spirit of The Nopo's many gifted artisans. In less than a year, she has aided our expansion from Morocco to Mexico and has grown our community to over 100 artisans. As a natural linguist and storyteller, she is determined to stitch together communities of niche artisans so that they can flourish within The Nopo.
Arianna was raised in Genoa, Italy, a beautiful maze of steep hills that seemingly sprout apartment blocks, an archaic-feeling place surrounded by mountains and sea. In many ways, she reflects her native landscape: hungry for a challenge and unwavering from uphill climbs, she is a woman of the earth who takes great pleasure in the beauty of nature but is also strikingly modern and forward-thinking.
Her true spirit, however, lay far outside of her home hills, and she would not be held there for long. Aged 18, she had learned French, Spanish, and English, and was ready to explore. She moved to multicultural London to study, found a passion for film production, and seemed set on a path to success in the big city.
But after some years of education, traveling for work, relationships, swing dancing, moving around North and East London, and working more than average length days, she found herself dissatisfied and unsettled. Fast-forward to a dark, cold, London December, and Arianna can’t stop typing Malawi into her laptop after visiting the year before. A restless yearning had awoken and would not be placated by working harder, dancing more, or settling down into mid-20s grown-up life. And so true to her feelings, she booked a one-way ticket and began a new journey almost eight years after her move to London.
Unrooted and without time constraints, she arrived in Malawi intent on learning about a new culture, raising money for community projects, and being somewhere totally different from the known. Her film experience and creative writing degree soon took center stage in her travels. Setting up a blog called Let Them Talk Such Is Life, Arianna documented the characters she met along her way and created a platform for incredible voices found hidden within remote communities. She also worked at a school, helping with Macbeth and leading storytelling workshops with the students.
Living without electricity during the week and treating herself to the luxuries of lake life in Nkhata Bay at weekends, she met other travelers from all over the globe, went to festivals, and was filled visually and emotionally by a plethora of exciting stories.
She was hooked, and her life has carried on in a similar vein ever since, dipping between the unknown and the familiar, becoming a digital nomad, embracing life overwork, and often raising money for worthy causes.
The many African countries that Arianna traveled through taught her patience and calm. A life passing from place to place showed her how to travel and live slowly. And gradually the London hustle and bustle was shaken off, allowing her to redefine what she truly holds dear.
“The amazing encounters I had while traveling really made me realize that what I love most is finding out and sharing inspiring stories from around the world. That’s what drew me to The Nopo - the ability to use my storytelling skills to uncover and write about amazing artisans and their incredible craftsmanship.”
In one of her breaks from traveling while holding up in Genova in the summer of 2019, Arianna found herself sat around a delicious lunch of her mother’s aubergine parmigiana with two friends who were visiting from Slovenia with their bikes. On the sweltering Genoese afternoon after cycling to the sea and back, Arianna’s father introduced the table to a long-gone family member as unconventional as she is. It was her great-grandfather, Daniele Tatta, someone who stole her attention and set her traveling legs twitching.
At the age of 27, Daniele Tatta was a bachelor and tailor in Rome. He was not a wealthy or privileged man, and life was far from easy, but he had one big passion: the bicycle. In 1905 he took time off work, sacrificed his earnings, and went cycling from Rome to Marseilles and back, covering the 2000km in a record 11 days, 8 hours and 20 minutes and, one could go as far as to say, setting the foundations for rides like Giro d’Italia. No one in the family knows why he did it, but one can assume the driver was a deep desire to explore. The only physical trace left behind: a notebook, where passersby certified Daniele’s passage with their signatures or stamps.
Arianna had just been introduced to a real family ally: a truly unconventional, awe-inspiring, and brave great-grandfather, whose 116-year old adventure she couldn’t get out of her head.
In October 2019, she flew to Johannesburg to settle for the foreseeable future with her then partner. After a few weeks of reunion, the pair were forced apart by lockdown, and Arianna had 3 months of quarantining solo in the unfamiliar city. While she sunk into an incredibly controlled survival routine of exercise, work, podcasts, yoga, video lunches with her baby nephew, and rising with the sun, the ride stayed with her.
She returned to Europe in August 2020, and since then, has taken up her great-grandfather’s mantle and started training for her own ride, Prima del Giro (Before the Giro), The ride is aptly named to celebrate Daniele’s tenacity on wheels before races like the Giro d’Italia even existed.
In between interviewing and onboarding artisans for The Nopo, Arianna has been borrowing bikes in London and Genoa, building up her fitness with regular 50km rides, and recently incorporating hills and longer days as she nears Day 1 of her Giro on August 25th. She intends to arrive in Marseilles for her 30th birthday on September 14th.
As is her nature, Arianna is fundraising around the ride and set the intention of raising enough to donate 15 bikes to girls and women in developing countries through the organization 88bikes. Her fundraising mark was met almost immediately due to one very generous donation from an American bike enthusiast, and who knows what a large impact her ride will end up having.
After much interest from other cyclists as well as media outlets in Italy and online, she has received sponsorship from Santini for clothing and a Liv bike, which is designed specifically for women. Arianna hopes this ride will raise the profile of women in the often male-dominated world of cycling, as well as connect her to an outlandish man she never knew but feels great fondness for.
When the ride is done, Arianna will take stock and rest up before getting back to meeting new artisans for The Nopo, no doubt keeping her eyes wide for the next place to pass through.
Arianna curated a beautiful collection that perfectly summarises her traveler spirit, featuring anything from hammocks to take on your travels or decor your patio, to special pieces of jewelry. Shop her Curated Collection, available from today for a limited time only!