“If you don’t go to the other side of the World, are you not happy?” is is the question I have been asked by a colleague of mine while I was planning to go either to Vietnam or Kenya for my summer leave in 2013.
Honestly it is not completely right: assuming that I live just a few km away from the most beautiful beaches of my region, if I dreamed of sea and having fun only, getting out and drive for a while would be enough to; but today, like yesterday, my idea of travelling is quite far from renting an house in Cilento in august or going back to Mallorca for the 3th time in 3 years.
Favored by a father who loves itinerant travels and keeps preserving a seaman soul; a mother who is from Apulia and, despite having moved away more than 38 years ago, is still strongly linked to her city; and finally, being grown up in a countryside village forgotten by God which made me feel the urge to go beyond the wall; my passion for travel pushes me over the simple need of vacation.
Before my first adult trip, which at the age of 17 took me to Brighton for a 3-weeks English course, I followed my parents all round Italy visiting relatives, in a typical mid-summer vacation on Romagna’s Riviera, touring by caravan in Sardinia and Corsica, spending the whole summer swimming in the crystalline water of Apulia’s sea – before the massive tourism boom, when Fasano, Ostuni and Santa Maria di Leuca were all just family’s matters.
Later on, the time for good wine and delicious meat week-ends in Umbria and Tuscany arrived as well as vacations of naked feet and every night all-night-long partying with my girlfriends in Sicily, eating arancini and panelle; August driving along the Argentario’s headland with my best friend; discovering the most beautiful islands of Mediterranean such as Malta, which I had dreamed of for so long, Mallorca and Minorca; a mid-winter week of just sun and sea in Marsa Alam; going back to London at least twice a year because I couldn’t survive without for longer; trips to Amsterdam and Zaanse Schans’ mills; Edinburgh and the little university village of St. Andrews where meeting the Prince William was not a tough job; Prague and wandering under the rain at night time.
At the same time I didn’t miss the chance for farer trips like the one that, at the age of 18, saw me flying to Canada for a month to improve my English skills, or the other one that in 2003 showed me the amazing beauties and the cruel reality of the dictatorship of Zimbabwe, letting myself experience for the first time the endless sickness that the Africa bug leaves inside your heart and mind.
And finally, a few year ago I met my perfect travel mate – well, actually I don’t like travelling solo: moving by train or plane on my own doesn’t matter, I do admit it’s easier to get to know people – sometimes very interesting – when travelling alone, but I prefer to have someone waiting for me at the arrival, whom starting the real trip with. I was saying, the perfect travel buddy, who shares with me the same curiosity and passion for different sceneries, faces and new cultures; backpack and runners trips, when elegant dresses and heels are left at home in order to have enough space in the suitcase for snorkeling equipment and camera, and get the better from each experience to enrich mind and heart. So you can find us in a dusty suk in Cairo, taking pictures to a temple in Bali at sunset, walking under the never-ending rain in Bangkok and surfing thousands of kilometers in the Kenyan savanna.
But we don’t renounce even walking in the narrow lanes in Naples or a Saturday afternoon on Amalfi seashore, running away from the Monte Carlo’s casino soon after having won 800 euros or having a beer at Temple Bar in Dublin; I love catching with him up somewhere, or leaving with him on a work trip to Borgo a Mazzano – a tiny village which has been a very nice surprise with its Ponte del Diavolo – and Lucca, Berlin, New York, Seattle and Geneva, which has become our second home, making our life a bit complicated but also giving us the great opportunity to know the international face of little cities as Bern and Lausanne, behaving like people living on the border who have home in France and work in Switzerland, crossing the Switzerland-France-Switzerland border twice in a few km distance, spending the week-ends visiting small villages as Coppet and little towns that offer a huge range of activities to fill an entire month, like Interlaken.
All this just to say that, I don’t have to go necessarily to the other end of the World to be happy, but I do necessarily need to go to a place that satisfies my eyes with things that make my heart beat faster and let me breathless, fulfilling my mind with new thoughts that help myself to see the same situation under a different point of view and that get myself come back home a little bit different.