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Thirty years ago, on May 1, 1994, I was on the outskirts of Florence celebrating May Day with some friends. We were carefree and cheerful, between a glass of wine, barbecue and good company, the day was passing pleasantly. I remember that I had left my phone, one of the first cell phones at the time, in my jacket hanging on a nail not far from me. It was about two in the afternoon when I decided to check the phone to see if anyone had been looking for me. As I approached the jacket, the cell phone rang, and I saw the number of my agency on the display.

At the time I was working as a photographer at theSestini Photojournalistic Agency, of Massimo Sestini, yes, the very one on the cover of Sofia Goggia from a few weeks ago. I had arrived in September 1993, a few months after the Georgofili Street Massacre in Florence. I had been chosen by Massimo himself, we had met in Porto Ercole, where I lived, and he was positively impressed by my desire to become a photographer, so much so that he proposed that I follow him to Florence and work for him.

At the time, the Sestini agency was at its peak, with an exceptional staff that enabled it to cover all the most important events in the country. Many were the scoops made at that time, from the first photos of Peter's after the announcement of her entry into politics, made after a search that lasted more than a month, to the first photos of the Speaker of the House Irene Pivetti while jogging in Rome, taken thanks to a formidable plan of action involving six photographers, despite a considerable deployment of Police forces around Villa Doria Pamphilj. But these are other stories.

Let's go back to May 1, 1994: the cell phone rang, I answered the call, and it was Maximus, who in one lapidary sentence told me to go back to the agency because Ayrton Senna was dead. I remember the chill went through my body and I was frozen in disbelief at that news. I think the same feeling was felt by many people who were passionate about Formula 1, because Ayrton was really considered an immortal driver: Ayrton could not die.

I talked to my friends about what had happened, and the party clearly stopped, no one could believe this news. The fact is that I went back to the agency. I remember when I walked in there was a surreal atmosphere: the lights were off, no one was there, then I saw a faint light in Massimo's room. I walked closer and saw a tripod with a camera in front of the TV. Maximus was rephotographing images of the incident from the TV, intending to produce a series of images to send to sales agencies as quickly as possible. The only images of the accident were in fact those taken from the TV, since no photographer was present at the Tamburello curve in Imola at the time of the accident.

I spent the whole afternoon in the agency with Massimo, and by evening I was exhausted. Massimo left around 8 p.m., and I left shortly after, leaving the place to Gerardo, a colleague of mine who stayed to work that night. I came home exhausted. Lying on the bed, I reviewed the whole past day, still dazed by the events. In the morning I returned to the agency, where there was only the secretary, who smiling and probably unaware of what had happened, told me that there was a job for me left by Gerardo. In an envelope was a negative to be converted to a slide, a usual practice at the time: one would take the negative and rephotograph it with a camera loaded with slides, using a tripod and a viewer with a color mixer. At the time, the photojournalism market relied heavily on the sale of slides because the colors were considerably more contrasted and saturated than with chemical printing.

However, there was a word written on the envelope: "macabre." There and then I didn't quite understand the meaning of that word, but as soon as I saw the negative and passed it over the viewer, I was speechless. In the envelope were photos of Ayrton Senna dead, taken from inside the Imola hospital. He was lying on a stretcher, covered by a sheet, but his face was uncovered and unrecognizable: the impact had been devastating. A tear ran down my face, and at that moment I realized that the legend was really gone.

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