Friday, July 26, 2013

My Kind of Roads

Umbria, Italy (October 28, 2007)

My kind of roads does not go straight. To go from A to B it detours through Z, with all the alphabet in between. There is a bend in each letter, and you can write a novel at each stop. If it is in US, it is not very well paved. In New Zealand it would be unsealed. In Italy, it would be forgotten. In Venezuela it would be stolen by the last rains. It doesn't matter, it is still my road: a thread to be followed not to escape, but to get lost in the labyrinth. 

A cat in Bolsena
As much as I wish rail transportation was more developed in the US, my favorite mode of transportation is driving on small roads. When I am visiting a new place this is what I always try to do, if there is enough time and if renting a car is not prohibitively expensive. The reason why I like it so much is because if I am in a car on a small road I can stop. And I can stop a lot. There is always something new to see (and photograph), and some countries can only be fully understood by escaping the traffic of the large cities, to get immersed in the small towns in the hills and mountains. Such a country is Italy which, after all, still longs to be an agricultural society, and where the "entroterra" tends to be more interesting than the large cries and coastal resorts. There is a road crossing the Apennines in Umbria (the ancient land of the mysterious etruscans) that I really like, passing near the volcanic lakes north of Rome (where the romans were staging mock naval battles for the amusement of populace and emperors), and ending on the Adriatic sea coast. You find a lot of castles, in-between brick-and-stone villages with the best food ever. Cats are sleeping under the sun, and you can always feel the shadow of old ladies spying from behind the curtains, if they are not sitting on the doorway from the beginning of time, telling stories to the traveler, or making up new ones.

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