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GES226 - Brescia Underground & The IDM 2013

l had wanted to visit the famed Bresc!a boys and their buried Roman rivers for some time, but other projects and holidays always got in the way. The annual meet for Drainers was set for Bresc!a in February of 2013. A promotional video had been sent around the draining community. I hummed and harred about going, as I had a number of other commitments around the same time. However, I booked tickets a fortnight beforehand, and paid the price. I'd always been attracted by the city of Milan, home to the mighty AC Milan football club, and centre of Italian fashion. I know a number of Italians living in the UK, and when I said I was going to Bresc!a, all of them bulked at the idea. "Bresc!a, really? Why?"

I arrived early on an Easyjet flight, that actually wasn't that bad. I decided to walk the 7km into Milan from the  airport, another explorer from NY was well known for doing this, so thought I'd give it a go. It was interesting to see the city build up. The industrial fringe giving way to apartment blocks and then the historical buildings of the centre and finally the Piazza del Duomo. I texted around to see if others were about, but most were in the suburbs, mountains or Bresc!a itself. After a day of walking about, and seeing the fringe of Milan Fashion week. I headed off on the train to Bresc!a as night fell. The train would pass Vicenza after Bresc!a, where two of my close friends originated from.

I arrived at Bresc!a station, and wandered through the emptying streets of a Saturday night early evening. Locating the bar became interesting, and the local cops didn't seem to know where the bar or street it was on were. I spotted a familiar Brighton explorer in the near distance, and as I got closer, spotted the bar she was next too. I was starving, and after bumping into GE082, nipped off to grab a quick plateful of food.

Belly full, and with a beer consumed, I said 'hi' to a few familiar faces, including GE006, who I hadn't seen since the previous IDM, it was the usual procession across a town, crocodile fashion in waders. A few people glanced oddly at the procession, however it was only a short distance.

We came to the famous red door I'd seen in numerous photos and videos over the years.

I found myself quickly ducking down, as the ceiling space evaporated, and I was walking above the flowing river bent double. The two tunnels in the background lead off downstream. We were heading upstream.

Looking upstream, and arrow directs people to the party site. More bending in-half, I struggled the 200m or so to the party spot, while having an intense conversation with GE006. The music became louder and louder, as we finally emerged into a larger cavern.

More revellers were coming along behind us.

The larger cavern, and venue for the party. The local chaps banner hanging from the ceiling. The area on the right was above the water flow, and was where most gathered. I caught up with the cool chaps and hosts of the previous years IDM, GE021, GE022 and GE023. I didn't see if GE023 ended up sleeping on the floor, like the previous year. Certainly GE074 upheld Northern traditions, and passed out after a few beers, while his lady looked on with shame.

Turning 180 degrees, upstream, another slight crouching tunnel lead up to an area with a DJ banging out tunes. A number of people queried the power source for the decks, and whether it was wise to have such a set up in a river?! But hey, this was Italy!

The DJ, with ear drum destroying speakers. GE083 being the sole MSP representative from the states, in an interesting dress/waders combo.

I wandered off from the party to explore what lay upstream. In order to save space, I'd skipped a tripod, and had gone for just using a flash-gun. Similar to the Canal St Sewer in NYC. The tunnel was very ramshackle, with different coverings every few metres. It was rumoured that some of it was from the Roman period.

Here it swapped over into another tunnel, that started on the left of the camera. The local chaps had put pictures of the places above our heads at various intervals. The laminated paper hanging on the ceiling was one of them.

A narrow section, with a more modern-ish looking ceiling.

Recesses in the narrow section, seen above.

The end of the walking section of the network, as far as upstream goes. I found some locals adding colour to the river. Also one of the few side pipes.

Stood where the chaps were in the above photo, the river comes from around the corner, but it was impossible to go any further without getting wet. I then re-joined the party.

The party continued until not long after midnight, and I joined GE059 as he wobbled back to his hotel room. A two hour sleep, and I walked down to the train station. The first train would take me towards the airport, and an early flight home. Big thanks to Bresc!a Underground, an admirable entry in the IDM history. Who knows where 2014 will be, Paris? Toronto? MSP? Wien...one things for sure, the beautiful people will be there!