Diego Gastaldi: His Extraordinary Adventure of Freedom and Courage
Diego Gastaldi is a man of extraordinary courage and determination who has faced a series of challenges in his life with incredible resilience. In 2011, during his studies in aeronautical engineering, a tragic road accident left him paralyzed from the waist down, turning him into a paraplegic. Despite the initial difficulties and disappointment, Diego found a new source of strength in sports, dedicating himself to athletics for 7 years. During this time, he won two European medals, learning and growing both as an athlete and as a person.
Diego faced his disability with courage and determination, openly sharing the challenges he had to face. The 2011 accident caused a fracture in his fourth thoracic vertebra, making him paraplegic and leading to various issues related to bladder and bowel management, sexual life, and overall health. "The first years were a true nightmare, but thanks to sports, the love of my partner, and the possibility of pursuing my goals, I managed to regain independence and a satisfying quality of life."
Living in a van: What are the main advantages of living in a van compared to a traditional home?
Diego cultivated his passion for travel by converting a van himself and embarking on adventures around the world. Living in a van has given him a sense of continuous self-discovery, discovering the world and others. Though van life comes with daily challenges, for Diego, it is a source of growth and joy. He has learned to handle difficult moments and overcome limitations, realizing that this lifestyle offers the opportunity to experience wonderful moments and reach spectacular places. However, when he feels overwhelmed, he always has the safe haven of his home to return to for recharging and rejuvenation.
Diego has devoted much time and effort to making his van accessible and comfortable, considering his needs carefully. He understands the importance of clarifying his own needs and has built the van accordingly. For example, he designed the space to carry his off-road electrically assisted handbike and a drone, which allow him to handle most situations he encounters during his travels. He built the interior furniture in a way to optimize space and ensure a pleasant experience.
What is your favourite place you've travelled to with the van and why?
Among all the wonderful destinations explored with his van, for Diego, the western coast of Sardinia was the most beautiful place. This area is characterized by still-wild and untouched nature, with scents, smells, and cliffs that enchant the senses. "Most of these places I couldn't have reached without the van and the handbike; it was the culmination of all the work I've done on myself and the means I use."
How do you organize daily logistics such as cooking, washing, and managing limited space?
Diego learned to manage daily logistics one step at a time, starting with small outings and adapting the van accordingly. For cooking, he opted for a multifunctional pot that helps him prepare meals easily. Not being an expert cook, Diego finds it convenient to always bring a barbecue along. For personal hygiene, he set up an outdoor shower for quick washes and made the bathroom waterproof for washing inside the van. Despite the limited space, Diego spends most of his time outdoors, where he feels free and in harmony with nature.
Have you encountered prejudices or barriers during your travels due to your wheelchair? How did you handle these situations?
Fortunately, Diego has never encountered prejudices or barriers during his travels due to his wheelchair. On the contrary, he has been met with admiration and respect for his achievements and courageous choices. Some fellow travellers he shared experiences with have been generous and hospitable, making his journeys even more rewarding. However, Diego acknowledges that nature itself can be a total architectural barrier, but he constantly works on himself and his means to overcome these challenges.
Diego got to know Aria Wheels through his orthopaedics: what struck Diego the most about Aria Wheels' products was the aesthetics of the wheelchairs, finding them beautiful and different from others. One of the main strengths of Aria Wheels, for Diego, was customer support. The company proved to be responsive and helpful in assisting Diego when he needed it, resolving issues quickly.
Future plans and desired destinations with the van.
Diego still has many exciting projects for the future. Soon, he will travel to Sicily with his girlfriend to try kite surfing, enjoying the sense of freedom that only van travel can offer. Additionally, he is finalizing the details of a huge and spectacular trip to Kilimanjaro, an incredible endeavor that showcases his determination and adventurous spirit.
Where to follow Diego's journey.
To follow Diego's adventures and travels, you can mainly find him on Instagram at the following address: https://www.instagram.com/diego_gastaldi_/ and in the future, he may open a YouTube channel to further share his experiences and inspire others to embark on extraordinary journeys.
Funny anecdotes were shared with our community.
Diego shared a humorous anecdote about an encounter with the famous Paralympic athlete Alessandro Zanardi. During a moment of mutual discovery of suitable gloves for athletics, Diego noticed that Zanardi's left glove didn't fit his hand, despite the athlete's generous size. Jokingly asking Zanardi about the missing fingers, Zanardi laughed and admitted to leaving two half-phalanges in a go-kart chain when he was a child. This amusing episode strengthened the bond between the two men and remains one of Diego's most cherished memories.
The story of Diego Gastaldi is an incredible demonstration of strength, courage, and determination. Through sports and a passion for van travel, Diego has transformed challenges into opportunities and rediscovered happiness and pride in himself. His adventurous spirit and desire to explore the world know no limits, inspiring others to follow their dreams and overcome challenges with determination. Sharing his story with the world is a way to spread a message of hope and resilience, proving that every obstacle can be overcome with the right mindset and spirit.
We will get back to you as soon as possible.