Traveler is the creator of the country he is travelling to, cannot be more true when I recollect memories of all of my past travels. There is nothing extra triumphal in what Christopher Colombo or Marco Polo once did than what a single backpacking traveler does every day on his travels and that is- discovering new land, custom and culture. Each discovery is unique and belongs to the person experiencing it making it their little treasure that they collected like busy bees and are about to spread it buzzing around the globe. I was one of them, still am, and first flower i have landed to was sunny Tuscany. I settled myself in Siena and started my journey of discovery of this land. Disclosing Italy. Little by little, I was learning more and more about this culture and was amazed by it, but, also, little by little I was putting together piece by piece of mosaic, individually so diverse, of different shapes and colors, but together they made the most colorful and vivid picture i have ever seen.
One of my favorite trips happened 5 days after I arrived to Tuscany in 2016 and led me to start creating a puzzle called Italy. I settled in the hostel(first time in my life), still in search for an apartment and on my first day there i had decided to explore a bit of the city of Siena, my new home. On my way out I bumped to Mr. never-saying-what-his-job-in-the-hostel-is Paolo, in the hallway, all dressed up, walking back and forth with his nose in the ceiling, waiting for someone. As soon as he saw me he approached me and asked to join him and two other guests, girls from Berlin, for a countryside tour with their van. I said sure, thinking how town could wait, and how it would be very nice and healthy if I got some fresh air and walked in the countryside a bit. Little that I’d known that in 3 hours, after a vomit-friendly ride through breathtaking south of Tuscany, provided by bold, middle aged Italian, Piero (who knew little to no English but was eager to communicate to us and introduce us to his fluffy, smelly dog Abramo), I would find myself pouring my ninth glass of wine, having the spiciest pepper I had had in my life, in the middle of little piazza. Sitting and laughing with people I’ve just met, that were my first friends in Tuscany. Exactly that was the moment, leaned in my chair, surrounded by brown and yellow houses, separated with narrow streets that go back as far as 9th century, soaking the sun, language, laugh and wine, that I thought „I’ll be alright here“, and couldn’t be closer to the truth thinking that.
We walked, zigzagging, through small, cobblestone streets and tucked piazzas in Pienza named after it’s founder, born here, Pope Pius II Piccolomini who in 15th century had a vision of building an ideal Renaissance city which now represents the first application of humanist urban planning concept. I couldn’t not think how, by strange circumstances, I got an ideal first experience in, once, ideal town. Our trip ended with a visit to another place nearby called Bagno Vignoni, with a hot spring overlooking just another castle on the top of the hill. I say „just another“ not because I don’t appreciate and think highly of it but, because, when it comes to Italy, especially Tuscany, castles and fortresses are everywhere, that, when you see as many, you almost don’t pay attention to it anymore.
Standing on the edge of the hot spring and catching a sunset, still a bit tipsy, I got to one of those serious drunk discussions with Mr Paolo, where we heavily argued what did Machiavelli actually say in his book „The Prince“. Convinced I know better than this little, full of himself, Italian ’cause I finished Political Science, I said that he actually wrote that „the end justifies the means“ and was stubborn about it (search „being Serbian“ in dictionary) while Paolo, pointing his umbrella at me(that he took just as an accessory) said that’s a lie and he’ll prove me wrong. We ended it right there, without achieving any agreement, and headed back to the hostel. This time, ironically, ride was vomit-free, since we fell asleep the moment we got into the van. Back in the hostel, some fellow travelers knowing I planned to visit the city that day, asked how it was where I only said I stumbled up on some magic beans and left to bed, still a bit dizzy, but happy. Next morning I’ve found toy of Pinochio at my door and days later i’ve received the message with an original use of the controversial statement, where author just referred to Machiavelli’s book, which, made me laugh and admit I was wrong(now search for „what Serbs never do“).
Exactly a year later i found myself in Syracuse with Mr
Always Sometimes Right Paolo on a less spontaneous adventure than the one to Pienza, although we kept having roller coaster rides(what else with Italians) and did get lost quite a lot to be honest, but it didn’t matter, we anyway didn’t know where we were going.
“Alice asked the Cheshire Cat, who was sitting in a tree, “What road do I take?”Lewis Carroll, Alice’s adventures in Wonderland
The cat asked, “Where do you want to go?”
“I don’t know,” Alice answered.
“Then,” said the cat, “it really doesn’t matter, does it?”