The stories of my life on a little island in the middle of the Mediterranean sea ... and my occasional adventures beyond these shores.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

There’s something about Italy

Yes, there’s something about Italy and I don’t quite know what it is -whether it is the rolling Tuscan hills or its crumbling fortresses; the grandiose domes of its churches or the refreshing tinkle of its many fountains. What is certain is that there’s an inherent charm that seems to stem from its diversity. So perhaps it no wonder that its cities, landscapes and even obscure villages whose names are left out of all the guidebooks seem to have come to an unspoken agreement: to seduce the unwary traveller into leaving a piece of his heart and a part of his soul somewhere along its boot-shaped length. Italy has captured the imagination of countless poets, artists, writers and adventurers. But, you might ask, what is it about it that  you seek?
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And my answer would be ‘I don’t know’. I don’t know what draws me to this land. For I do not claim to be a poet, and an artist I most definitely am not. So would adventurer be a more fitting description? Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t. I’m just an {older} girl with a camera and a pen; a wanderer’s soul and a passion for eavesdropping on whispers of the past.
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Yes, I am spellbound by Pisa and Siena and Venice (and Rome and Florence and … you get the picture) but I am equally mesmerised by those secret villages where no tourists venture and which even time seems to have forgotten. It’s been too long since my last visit and, everyday, I hear the siren call of this beautiful land a little bit stronger,   knowing full well that before too long I will have to break my shackles and answer it, so that I will, once again, be able to walk on ancient cobbled streets, beneath gravity-defying medieval towers, hoping to discover its secrets and trying to find that part of me which I had left behind on my previous visit. Or maybe it was the one before that. Or maybe it was a hundred years ago or even a thousand. Because time is relative here and Italy never feels like a stranger but more like an old friend with whom I can pick up a surreptitious conversation at exactly the same point we had left it the last time we met.
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I am a dreamer and, like all dreamers, I live somewhere on the border between fantasy and reality. In Italy, the fantastic is never too far beneath the surface and I seem to tune it to it intuitively. Maybe that is the lure which, time and again, draws me there. Or maybe it’s something more mundane: like the food, the wine and that typically Italian outlook on life epitomised by the now immortal phrase: la dolce vita.
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Oh Italy, even after all that soul-searching I am not any closer to pin-pointing where your magic lies. Which is probably why I keep on falling in love with you.
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Monday, 9 February 2015

Circle in the sand

A desert wind blew in and left a trail of fine, orange dust in its wake.  They say that the desert is full of sand. But this is nothing like the grainy substance on our beaches. It’s as fine as the finest talcum powder. Only the colour is all wrong.Sandstorm (1)
When the scirocco blows it here in the belly of strange-coloured clouds, there’s nothing much we can do except wait for the storm to pass and then grab a broom, sweep it into a pile and throw it away. But this time, just as I was about to get rid of it, I plunged my fingers into the little powdery mound. And for a moment it seemed as if the Earth had stopped spinning, as the realisation hit me: that I’ve never been to the Sahara but I’d just touched it with my fingertips. This same sand that was now in an innocuous pile before me had been buffeted by the breath of a thousand different winds and scorched by the heat of an unforgiving sun, only to end up on this alien shore. In a pile. At my feet.Sandstorm (2)
I traced a circle through this fertile dust in which nothing grows and wondered how many weary travellers’ bodies it had embraced; how many camels had left their footprints across its lonely miles  and what exotic creatures called it home? I raised dusty fingers to my face and felt a tingle running down my  spine, followed by a strange sensation that miles and miles away a strange figure in an indigo-blue veil was watching me through narrowed eyes. Maybe my world had collided with his.Sandstorm (3)
Our farmers say that this desert dust fortifies our soil and nourishes the fledgling plants. I gathered the dust and scattered it gently on the surface of my garden soil. Perhaps it would help my flowers grow. Miles and miles away it seemed as if that solitary figure nodded in agreement and silently rode away into the endless expanse of the desert.Sandstorm (4)
You may read more about this strange desert wind in one of my first posts here.


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