Just outside Pontinvrea, there lives an international star of freestyle motorcycling, one of those crazy sports that involves the death loop at more than a height of 20 metres, releasing your hands from the handlebars with the same ease that a normal person would use when parking your car. His name is Vanni Oddera, and he was born and grew up in this area and now lives in an old farmhouse with ten hectares of surrounding land, fields and oak forests, a little paradise where he has built his own personal training park, with ramps, tracks and gangplanks for bikes. In this mountain hamlet of the Ligurian hinterland, where his family owns an historical inn, La Pineta, Vanni Oddera is known by all. For his acrobats with his KTM, for his way of being rather frank and a little eccentric, for his lifestyle, years touring the world – competitions, women and worldliness -, but also for having created for more than ten years Mototerapia, bringing joy and a glimmer of hope into the lives of many disabled children. In an agreement with Gaslini, the paediatric hospital of Genoa, in 2012, he set up the “Freestyle Hospital” project, introducing motorbikes into the paediatric-oncological wards.
A project which has become international. And in full lockdown, in 2020, he launched with a team of experts “Mototerapia Take-away”, a parallel initiative that led to bringing motorbikes directly to the homes of the children, with a tour that covered a large part of the Italian peninsula. “I wanted to overturn the idea that doing good is for losers. And the kids have a blind faith in me. When they see me in my bike suit they think I’m a super-hero”, recounts Vanni Oddera, who at 12 years old discovered he was afflicted by Kartagener’s Syndrome, a rare genetic disease that results in a mirror-image reversal of the internal organs. The doctors told him that he would have had to be careful even walking down stairs, but it didn’t exactly go that way. Notwithstanding 26 broken bones. And dizziness. “I keep my eyes fixed on the bike so as not to look down”, he says with conviction. A bit difficult to believe him.