There are many ways to choose a holiday destination. An evening looking at 200 photos with a friend who has just returned from Madagascar could end with insomnia. However, it could lead some people to a travel agency to browse the “Exotic travels” catalog.
I know a 11 year old boy who had forced his parents to spend a Sunday in Monteriggioni, near Siena, Italy just because his last computer game was set in that pleasant little town. The game dealt with a ghostly congregation that must save the world from who knows what danger! Technology has some unintended consequences in the minds of the young.
The more logical use a method to organise their trips: once they have visited the capitals of Europe they start planning trips to other continents starting in alphabetical order. Others rely on friends who organises trips to unexpected places and then find themselves in a tent in the Khentii region of Mongolia searching for the grave of Genghis Khan.
I rely on others to feed my fantasy and sometimes inspire a trip. Books are an endless source of inspiration for new itineraries. While reading a book by Saramago I kept looking at my diary to check when I could take a week off to spend in Lisbon in the Alentejo region. As I finish the last page of “Fear and trembling” by Amelie Nothomb I found myself looking for the price of a flight ticket between Rome and Tokyo.
The intense atmosphere and suspense described by South African writer Damon Galgut make me phone my friend Andreina who lives in Johannesburg and book a long overdue visit.
The detective novels of Italian writer Marco Vichi lead me to Florence on a Sunday to walk along the Arno River and revisit the Cappellone degli Spagnoli (The big Spanish chapel) fresco painted by Andrea di Bonaiuto in the church Santa Maria Novella.
The visit to Prague then, could not be anything other than the logical consequence of a birthday present: The book ¨Magic Prague” by Angelo Maria Ripellino. I do not think there is an adjective that can describe this city in a more accurate and meaningful way than that used by Ripellino: Prague is a “magical” city, it can make you live centuries of history and literature. It is fascinating and disturbing at the same time, it leaves you with the feeling that you will never get to know the spirit of the city. It pushes you to think that you will return again.
I saw the main square of the old city at 11 PM. It brought to my mind the illustrations of an old book of fables that I used to love when I was a child. While I was looking at the city from the top of one of the castles, they came to my mind the words which conclude the book by Ripellino: “I will take my grandchildren, children, ex lovers, friends, my raised parents and all my deads. Prague, we will not give up”.