point of view


In the weekend I heard on the radio a programme about the new movie “Arrival” . The journalist highlighted the link between how people – or aliens, in this case – express themselves and how they in abstract terms. Apparently writing from left to right, or top-down, has an impact on how the thinking process is structured, intuitively it does make sense.

I am also convinced that one’s own geographical situation influences how one relates to its country. This topic is very frequently discussed regarding people living on islands – be they big like Sicily or Sardinia, or medium-sized to create a culture with critical mass, like Elba. But less when it comes to “corners” of a country. Or borders.

When growing up and living in Trieste, I always thought of Italy in this way. Like a pier launching out in the Mediterranean, quite far actually, a bit like Molo Audace, but slanted. And we were in the nook on the left.

When living in Rome, my mental image of Italy turned to the classic one: the one you experience when looking to a standard map. And Rome sits more or less at the center, symbolically if not precisely in geographic terms. So a bird’s eye view, not a “view from the center”.

How do I think of Italy now?

I think my vision of Italy had a real ephiphany one day when I was flying with Air Dolomiti from Munich to Trieste. Normally, when flying to Milan or Rome, the Alps mark the transition and then the flight remains quite high until the airport and so what’s in between is too far away to resonate geographically.

Hopping across the Alps, on a day of strong visibility, gave me a totally different feeling. A bit like the geographic map above. After the white flash of the Alps – how do you say abbacinante? – an almost golf-course smooth green carpet unfolded to our view, until the sea with its golden haze (Venice’s lagoon). On right and left, two silvery strips – Tagliamento and Isonzo, situating the borders with Veneto and Slovenia. In the middle, some bouquets of red roofs, and the most beautiful of all, Palmanova’s star fortress city, clearly recognizable.


That was the moment in which my “map” vision of Italy briefly coincided with a real, geographical view. My cousin was recalling a few days ago a similar experience, seeing Corsica from Liguria on a clear day while trekking on the mountains. And MeinMann followed the steps of Paolo Rumiz  – “La leggenda dei monti naviganti” – to find the magic spot between Alps and Appennini, between Liguria and Tuscany, where you can see the Thyrrenian Sea, get the clear view on the Alps curve and the intuition of the Appennini bending down on the other side…

When I lived in Paris, in the first months,  everything was new and fascinating and I was enthusiastic. But physically, I always felt a bit suffocating. It was not just the sea breeze and the wind which were missing. It was the lack of some sort of “balcony” or “border” that was missing. All that continental expanse, all that big Hexagone around, and all that flatness to travel across.

Now, when in Berlin, similarly flatly spread in the middle of a giant slice of Roggenbrot, I never have that feeling. The awareness of a recent hard, abrasive border and iron curtain makes me still feel “on the edge”. In some way, Berlin feels not so different from Trieste, and the Spree and Havel, are the equivalent of our Molo Audace: they point out there and far away, to the direction of “Germany”…

4 Responses to “point of view”

  1. January 24, 2017 at 23:20

    Molto interessante. E che bella questa vista dall’alto dell’Italia. Grazie.
    A me quello che più mi manca a Parigi (ma gli trovo anche altri difetti 🙂 è il mare che sento lontano, irraggiungibile mentre a Roma lo sento presente, a portata di mano.

  2. 2 stripedcat
    January 24, 2017 at 23:28

    adoro questa mappa…ne abbiamo una (in migliori condizioni) qui a casa…trovata a TS da un antiquario 😉 ….vero, il mare a Roma si percepisce…e i pini marittimi aiutano!

  3. 3 laurence
    January 25, 2017 at 09:15

    Reading you always makes my day, thank you!

  4. 4 stripedcat
    January 25, 2017 at 20:38

    uela’! Carissima! always a pleasure to hear from you! 🙂 tout va bien a’ Rome? 😉

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