lunedì 11 novembre 2013


"All this time I was finding myself , but I did not know I was lost"
Certain cities seem to have the power to speak to our hearts, while others put you in the corner, London has always had a strange effect on me. Like a bitter sip of medicine, either healing through its strength or weakening for its strong consequences. London shakes you, awakening with its pouring rain, challenging with its gray sky that leaves no place for easy satisfactions. It opens the mind, with its undeniable momentum, forcing you to seek more than a way out, at least with your fantasy. So many are those who come here pursuing their career, choosing to spend a couple of years away from real life. Each day, they spend fifteen hours working. Nothing else, not even during the weekends, in front of the desk or draining their soul and wallet in a posh Chelsea’s club.
In London you can choose to forget yourself, or to deal with opportunities, hidden among young professionals who fled from countries that should be their future. You can come here to get lost, or to look for yourself, hoping that someone will wake up at the right moment. Cos it’s only stopping the movement that you can understand where to go, and what you really care about.
" Don’t worry Cameron , we will stop the recession" It’s written in the subway .
We'll wake up, one day.

lunedì 4 novembre 2013

Nick: couchsurfing in San Fran

Couchsurfing for the first time, a new challenge in my first visit to San Francisco.

That s how I met Nick: spare keys ready for me, lunch waiting for my arrival, soft towels on my couch. Blue coloured pillows, a futurist painting with the flavours of summer, a egg-shaped chair, four guitars and two Buddhas, fluorescent lights that changed colour when passing by.

Nick loved his home: it was its shelter, his port far from the world outside, a welcoming place for all his fellows. There was a blue wall in his room, with the word "Girls" painted in red, as to suggest Nick's bad attitude towards women. But Nick would have never convinced anybody: nobody watching his drawings and his books would ever believe in his "bad boy attitude". And all those who listened to him playing would never buy that he arrived in San Francisco following the the Silicon Valley’s dream. Nick  was deep and sensitive, fast in following his passion, and so elusive to be almost forgetful of himself . He had a dream: to work as a cook in an organic catering, with no machine in the land of self –movement, having chosen to walk between the markets of a city full of Californian fruits and flavours. He was in love with Frisco, with the migrants of Castro and the organic sandwiches of the shop next door. He loved the Speakeasies of the Haights, the shadow of Prospect Park and the murals of Mission.

By chance I trusted Nick, accepting his Couchsurfing invitation, preferring him to a yoga instructor. I would have never done it before, enchained in my fear of letting go, of trusting others, even if they could be my princes. But not this time: this time I wanted to play my cards right, without sacrificing this occasion. And so I found myself in a studio in the Spanish barrio of Mission, contemplating San Francisco from a blue rooftop in front of the ocean, ready to cycle on the Golden Bridge and escape to Alcatraz after an ice cream at Fishermen's Wharf.
Only the convertible was missed to make this a daydream.

We talked about the world and our life mission, Nick and I, we discussed the"Stay hungry , stay foolish " of Steve Jobs, admiring his courage to drop everything in the pursuing of a passion.

I recall those conversation every time I think of America, now that, wandering around the streets of Rome, I think of what I miss, of the reason of my insatiable thirst to go .

lunedì 7 ottobre 2013

"Only those who dare will be able to fly"

"Our time is limited, so we don t have to waste it living somebody else life. We cannot let dogmas put us in a cage, we cannot live following somebody else thoughts. we cannot let the noise of other people' s thoughts hide our inner voice. 
And, mostly, we need to follow our heart and our intuition: somehow they know what we really want to become.
Everything else doesn't count"
                                                                                                            - Steve Jobs-

Now I finally hear the Italian newspapers talking about Africa, because of the death of hundreds of migrants, realizing distracted, with years of delay, that Africa is a continent torn apart and in war. So, I think of those immigrants dear to none, and of many of my friends, who have emigrated to search for a better future somewhere else. And I also think I of all the others who have remained here, saving for their retreat or planning a mortgage in order to buy their future home.
And I realize that I will always be different.
"If you prefer freedom to economic security, if you will always feel better in a studio rather than in a loft, it is not running that you will find joy. Ensure that your wishes match your needs, and you will realize that you don't think about the Rockefeller Center anymore "

I have copied this phrase in all my agenda, since 2008.
And with this in mind I have stubbornly planned my trip to Ivory Coast, my 3 months in Bolivia, my inner journey to the Middle East and my volunteering experience in Kolkata. I've always loved the freedom of a lightweight luggage, the feeling of knowing that I could start elsewhere again, with only few things packed and the most in my hearth. I hate moving but maybe it's a odi et amo, and perhaps my mum is right when she says that I will never be happy.
Or maybe the truth is that "I will always have a dream in mind" , as one of my friend told me.
"Only those who dare will be able to fly"

lunedì 30 settembre 2013

Describing home from the outside, partially witnessing our own reality, discovering again our little piece of the world, humbly. Still feeling like summer in this autumn in Rome, wandering between old coffees and new ice cream shops, with electrical bikes, while bike sharing is re starting, tiptoeing, in Villa Borghese, between rollerskates and electrical bikes for hire. Blogs, inspirations and stories at the travel literature festival at Villa Celimontana, continuing a journey inside themselves started a long time ago. To change perspective on this Italy, a foreign servant who slowly discovers Wi-fi and e books, laughing at them through cooking tutorials. The foreign policy as a niche topic, the eight-hour day without a minute longer, the lack of money against the power of ideas, in this passionate land in the middle, forgetting the future in the charm of the Coliseum.
Will it change? We will change?

mercoledì 18 settembre 2013

VICTIM OF MAFIA: an ordinary person’s name

A pink sweater,  a string of pearls and coloured stones: she smiles.
Threats and intimidations don’t frighten her: Adriana Musella denounces men and Institutions colluded with organized crime, who are destroying the patient job she is doing in schools to seed sprouts of legality and hope .But it’s hard to fight a counter-revolution, especially if it’s one against an institutionalized power.

" Will you ever be able to erase that gray stain from your memory ? "

During the conference against the mafia, Adriana Musella recalls a story thirty years ago.
May 3, 1983 . Via Apollo , Reggio Calabria.
A car bomb explodes, scattering in the surrounding area strips of flesh of an engineer from Salerno. A gray stain remains on the wall of the building in front of the one where the young Adriana lives . Traces of Gennaro Musella’s brain .
That man was not a bureaucrat, neither a judge, nor a politician.
That man was his father.
A common man, a professional who had done something “wrong”, something that was not supposed to do, who had denounced irregularities in a tender piloted by the "Cavalieri dell’Apocalisse”, a Mafia association in Catania.

Victim of Mafia: an ordinary person’s name.
That’s the title of the book published on for the thirtieth anniversary of the death of Gennaro Musella.
"I Never will get rid of that gray spot" Adriana Musella said.
"I will never take it out of my memory, I will never be able to erase the pain. However, I can try to give it a sense building an ethics of memory, based on education and information".
That is how she has started her own mission in schools, engaging in a battle to raise awareness against mafia and its crimes.
"Until a few years ago many were those who even denied the existence of the Mafia. Now the memory of what happened to my father lives beyond me. "
To remember all the victims of mafia, she has chosen a flower, a yellow gerbera, symbol of sunshine and rebirth, an image of the hope and determination of those who strive not to forget.

Be, all together, the change

May 22, 2012
The two “ships of legality” depart from Civitavecchia and Naples. Students, teachers, politicians, associations, citizens on board.
All together against the Mafia.
To discuss, to listen and remember, in order not to forget.
Once in a while, everybody at the same level, sailing together side by side.
 Violence, crime, blood.
The crisis and ethics: an ethics of crisis against the courage of memory, of ideas that survive. Justice, dignity, responsibility: words that are the foundation of democracy. Sharing the risk, finding the courage to make a choice, hoping for a change.
Being, all together, that change.
Do not be afraid to be afraid.
Living life to the end, do not waste even a moment .

Andrea is eighteen years old: his dream is to become a journalist, and has the courage to write .
Sara is twelve years old: she wants to be a waitress and has never been afraid.
Melissa was sixteen years old: that day she was going to school. And wanted to live.
Giovanni was fifty-three years: he was a magistrate and, like all other men, was afraid.

May 23, 1992
Capaci. 5.58 PM .
Five hundred pounds of TNT exploded, blowing up the car of a judge from Palermo and men of the police escort. Giovanni Falcone , Francesca Morvillo , Vito Schifani, Antonio Dicillo and Rocco Montinaro died .

May 23, 2012
Palermo. Thousands of people together, in order not to forget .
“You haven’t killed them : their ideas walk on our feet ."
Green, white and red balloons flew up in the sky .
Flags at the wrists, banners in hand: we go.One, ten, a hundred steps towards Falcone’s tree.
Crying out loud, without fear.

“Men come and go, ideas remain.
They will stay alive with their moral tension and continue to walk on the legs of others"
                                                                                                          - Giovanni Falcone-

Welcome to India

January the 8th, 2012.
Flight LH 750 Frankfurt - Calcutta: welcome to India.
It's two o'clock in the morning: the air is moist, dense, full of the darkness of night.
A taxi ride me through dark streets, animated by the fires of those who don’t have any other home.
A ghost town, strange "bicycles" bumping in the night, the sound of car horns, policemen, distant lights ...
Well, here we are : a good dose of Autan and my sleeping bag.
Goodnight ... And sweet dreams.

"Namaste, namaste! Anti, Anti ... Chocolate! ".
I start to understand something, in this intricate and fascinating city. It's already a week: I'm getting used to the traffic that knows no rest, to the animals and to the zoo with two, three, four wheels and two legs that populates the streets.
 "Tuc tuc", motorcycles, taxis, cars, bicycles, trams and buses: a bell is trying to make its way in the deafening noise. He is a "richshaw-puller, a rare species of" horse people " that you can find only here ...
City of joy or of painful hell?
I began my service with the Sisters of Mother Teresa, an oasis of peace and silence in the folds of AJC Bose Road. In Pren Dam, home for sick and dying, a journey of inner discovery IS waiting for me: when I will leave at the end of February I will not be the same.

It is said that in Calcutta is the prayer that sustains and heals the sufferings.
Now I can understand this phrase, after walking through the poor  areas around Sudder Street, after seeing entire families living in the streets, after roaming the corridors of the slums that runs alongside the rails ...
In how many places will nuns and volunteers be able to arrive, bringing that little drop of joy and love that will one day perform the miracle?

But now you must be wondering : "It 's India all about this? Where are Mumbai, New Delhi, the beaches of Kerala, the forts of Rajasthan, the Taj Mahal and the Golden temple of Amristar? ".
Animated by the same curiosity I decided to explore a little piece of this immense continent.
Thus I find myself on Duronto Express, an efficient Indian train that took me to New Delhi: my journey from east to west, with a quick escape to the north, and back.
Will this country share my silences and endure my cries of despair, when I will look confused the two sides of the same coin? Will I understand the how the dazzling lights of India's universities and avant-garde luxury hotel can live together with the dark face of the kids slums that play among waste  and putrid water?
I have lost myself in the streets of Agra, I have experienced the tourist target profiteers in Delhi, I have talked to my soul in the silence Amristar, I have observed of unknown divinities taking shapes under the moon that illuminate the holy city of Varanasi ...
During theses days, I have let myself change from what I saw, from the emotions I felt and from the people I met. I let myself be fascinated by this country that has the consistency of a dream, made of bells, flowers, candles, holy rivers, incense and women dressed in the brightest colors.
In India, death and life go hand in hand, and challenge each other, laughing, on the steps of the ghats who bow to the Ganges…
Is this a rapid ascent to the sky or endless rebirth on earth?

February, 23 2012. This morning the wind blows, it swells my sails.
It 's time to go: farewell India.
I have a phrase in mind: "When leave you lose yourself ... Or, you find it."

That's America

Goodmorning America!
Drivers yell between cups of coffee and bottles of Coke, wandering through KFC, McDonald's and Subways. Watching Obama's speech and observing Americans: a President as a symbol of collective hope, a way to feel all united.
 "Life, Liberty, Pursuit of Happiness : we will seize it as long as we seize it together ."

Obama smiles to his America, this America of Africans with pins, hats, magnets of Him. The America of the elegant jet set of Washington's businessmen and career women with their high hills in their purses. The America of the young professionals of Capitol Hill, of the Hispanics of Columbia Heights, of Chinese living on the 8th and the Europeans of Dupont Circle. This America who is striving against liberal market problems, health care concerns and university loans, the America of accessible roads and possibilities, of half dreams and semi-freedom.

This America reflected in the streets of Washington, the town of networking and lobbying, of  parties and happy hours, of everywhere free wifi and shopping 24/7. Friday evenings sitting in an open bar, ordering in English and greeting in French, hablando español in this international city. Two moijito and a ride with bikesharing before talking of democracy with complete strangers, glorifying the power of marketing and the strength of networking. In the city of the White House and gay bars, of bohemian cafés and second-hand bookstores. The Washington of Adams Morgan and its music till the morning, of the Diner and the Coupe and their outdoor tables, of  Perry's and its terrace overlooking the city, Christmas lights in a summer sunset. Washington 's of Howard University and its white towers dreaming of the Caribbean, Washington of Latin American parties of Mezze, BBQs in Georgetown and Ladies Nights at the Centro de F. City of transition and life choices, of one day travel fellows and unforgettable life companions.
Small pieces of heart scattered around the world, pursuing happiness in a foreign land.

martedì 17 settembre 2013

Postcards from the Middle East

               Damasco, Syria 2009

No need to go to the end of the earth to touch the sky: Jerusalem is here.
Here, with its walls and its gates, its suqs and narrow streets, its churches and its mosques, the sound of Christian bells which blend with that of Jewish songs, mingling with the smell of spices coming from shops near the Damascus Gate. The Wailing Wall and Al Aqsa Mosque, the Holy Sepulchre and the Basilica of Saint George, turtle meat and pomegranate juice, toy guns and goldfinches, children soldiers, and nostalgia for God. What's missing in the mosaic of this city? Jerusalem takes your soul, it charms you before capturing your heart and then reduces it to shreds, leaving it prey to countless thoughts and unanswered questions.
You can feel the pain, the despair, the anger for a God who is not there, yet invoked by thousands of voices that rise up from every side of town. He is hidden and ignored, the God of consolations, submerged in the sea of tension that fills these walls.

Journey from Jerusalem to Bethlehem: just a dozen kilometres that shake you inside.
You feel it, the wall, blankly risen up to heaven, perceiving the sea of differences and misunderstandings that separates these two peoples. Friday evening: a crowd invades the indescribable narrow streets of the old city. The fasting time is almost finished: the shops that sell honey cakes are full of Arabs who wait with joy for the sunset on this twentieth day of Ramadan. On the other part of the town crowds of Jews converge toward the Western Wall for the evening prayer: everything is ready for Shabbat. Israeli and Palestinian children are playing in the streets with their bright toy guns: judgement has gone long time ago. Hopefully, we will find a way, a clue, in this intricate mosaic ... Sooner or later.

domenica 1 settembre 2013


                                                                                     Washington, DC

"Do you travel to discover your future?"
- Italo Calvino- "Le città invisibili"

A black and white poster of monks walking away, surrounded by pictures of people and places. Back home, feeling finally safe from all life turbulence.
Maybe, or maybe not.
What makes a place our home, changing its borders to adjust to our feelings and win our solitude fears?
So that's for you, Emma, Mika, Euge, Dimitra, Agot, Francesca, Nathalia, Ligia, Xoan, and for all those who have remained here:  Sofia, Piera, Giulia, Ele, Damiano,  Francesca, Maria Chiara, Benedetta, for all who have followed my changing life decisions and support my crazy job and life plans, listening without judging, advising  without trying to re direct me. For all those who have made me understand what I want after two tequilas or hanging out on a sofa with a beer.  For all those who have listened to hours of crazy travel plans and tried to follow complicated existential turns. For all those who reminded me not to let life put me down, encouraging with your words and hugging me in front of a piece of cake.
You made me better understand who I am and where I want to go.
You have made anonymous  geographical spots  became the invisible cities of my hearth.
Oversea or back here, you will always be my home, wherever a damned application or my even worse free spirit will send me. The good or bad that will turn out of me will always also be partly of your fault :).
Grazie Mille, con tutto il mio cuore.

lunedì 29 luglio 2013

Another Chance

                                                                                Thailandia, Bangkok

And Finally it’s raining: the usual purifying half hour of the day. I saw the golden lights of the Wat Po from a motorbike that runs fast, a nice ride to make you forget the heat, the rain and the traffic of the day.

August, the 31th : Bangkok a month later.
Taxis, motorcycles, buses, tuc-tuc, speedboats, slowboats, metros and bicycles, canals, flower markets, stalls, shopping malls and skyscrapers. I left the city wet, messy and dirty, shaken in a cocktail of electrifying moves. I greeted it crunching chicken pretzels, watching it puzzled from the top of a Buddhist stupa.
I went back to say goodbye, and give her another chance.

So, I found out that the posh district of Rattanakosin is not all but gold, that the other side of the temples are red-light, districts, squeezed between rooftop bars and five-star hotels. I discovered that the mecca of food is not in Chinatown but in Siam Square shopping mall food courts and that behind the canals there’s another side of the city waiting. I found it changed, dressed up with Marc Jacobs clothes and Prada handbags, clean and tidy in the cold subway cars. I watched it staring at its reflection through the shining water of Silom lakes, rejoicing for the perfect game of mirrors of its gleaming harmonic skyscrapers.
Shopping centers in hand with temples, sloping roofs decorated with gold.
At the bottom of the river, cradling whispering slow ferry boat.

sabato 20 luglio 2013

Escaping in a island

And now it’s time to stop being turists. Towards the end of our trip, that’s adventure what we want.
Ko Chang, Ko Rung, Ko Krong: we try to figure out where heading, evaluating all insect warnings, struggling with adverse weather forecasts, trying to avoid the ubiquitous mix of “resort-lounge-club”.So, we end up in the “Rabbits island”, a tiny paradise in the southern part of Cambogia, facing Vietnam. We get there from Kep, after a night in a bungalow on a tree, a ride through durian fields and a feast of crabs and squid .
"Hey Nat, have you realized that you will have no internet, no computers and no electric power for a couple of days?"
O yes, for a couple of days I'll have to give up my pc, my faithful listener and keeper of all my stories. But no worries: I ll come back to pen and paper and use stars as lights ...
And I find myself on the beach, half asleep in a hammock, watching the moon, in a silence broken only by the noisy light of two candles in the restaurant, where a dozen of survivors are telling their stories, between pastis and Angkor Beer. I quickly join the crowd, adding my stories to their  tales, sharing my chronicles of travel and my concerns about the future.  Heart windows open to complete strangers, we share our lives under the stars.

venerdì 12 luglio 2013

Following Happiness

Feet in the river,  in Kapot we lie in a bungalow on the water, following our dream of a 'Neverland.
It's raining, reminding us not to rely on our expectations, teaching us to take happiness as it arrives, giving up on beaches to rediscover rivers instead of the sea, starting loving a quiet town accidentally ended up on our path.

Sleepy morning on cosy chairs facing the river, a soft orange light, a lullaby for our tired eyes, which easily close to the rhythm of Radiohead… There's always music at the bar.
Abandoned our plans of visits to waterfalls, jungles and caves, we hardly resign ourselves to rest, defeating our curiosity to discover and wander around.
"Maybe it's time to wander a bit 'inside myself," I think, “to have a look not only at the travel notes, but also at the thoughts, emotions, people who have run into me during the last weeks.

And thoughts start to reorder, slowly, and I start to face my problems. Apparently lefts at home, they continue to knock at my door, incessantly.

Finally, the sky opens up and we're immediately ready for a bike ride on muddy roads. The countryside is full of children playing around, men riding buffalos, Cambodian monks walking to their English classes.
And then evening comes, a comfortable silence falls upon our words, so simple to share in this darkness ... "Are you happy?"

I walked a lot, during these days, discovering amazing places and doing incredible things. I swam in a dark river, I followed reckless bikers in jungle, I watched sunrises, I fell asleep to the sound of the rain, I discussed art and human resources with Buddhist monks.  But above all, I gave up my independence and my self-consciousness. And I realized that I can handle to lose control, I can be safe trusting others. So I started my adventure with two great friends, discovering that joy that is full only if shared.

martedì 9 luglio 2013

Life Fragments at Angkor Wat

                                                                    Cambodia, Angkor Wat

There’s no rest for the tourists who visit Angkor Wat.
Temples as large as cities are waiting in ambush, exciting the curiosity of hasty travellers and tireless explorers, condemning them to wake up at sunrise and march till sunrise,unsuccessfully escaping the sun and the thousands of fellow tourists packed in increasingly crowded temples. Staircases, domes, statues, altars and lakes, bridges and sacred groves. Dozens of pages of history, a heavy feeling of helplessness, a sorrow for not having enough time to contemplate everything.

Today, on my third day, I realized how much I have changed during these months.
Abandoned the list of Wat, Ta, Preah [1]  to visit, today I allowed myself the luxury ten hours of sleep. I decided not to hike to the river of a thousand lingas and I had a slow breakfast, enjoying banana pancakes to the rhythm of Beatles.
My “to do list” forgotten, I rent a bike and I left.
Once in a while, with no self-imposed tour de force to respect, riding through the trees lining the road from Siem Reap to Angkor Wat, I discovered the magic of these places. With no rush, no more running and stairs-climbing, I took the time to look at chickens and butterflies, to stare at monkeys and dragonflies, to smile to Japanese tourists and Cambodian families.
"Do you want ten postcards? One, two, three, four ... ".
 Smiling, I followed the chant of children at the entrance of the temples. I turned off the sound of thoughts and I walked to temples already seen, so different if looked in a different way. Tiptoeing without making any noise, I collected fragments of other people's days, women squatting in the rice fields, men sleeping under a tree, children greet each other, shouting "Hello" as loud as they can.
And I realized that it is not running that I will find my joy.

[1]  Names of some of the temples of Angkor Wat