Around the world in a lot of days!
Travelling back through history
So I...
…in the cold and dark
…Why suffer?
Letters from... around the world
It’s not a trip but a need!
The day Vitus Bering beat John Wayne
The hunt
The ecstasy of a consumer and the Eskimo Syndrome
The suitcase
Tell me, what time does the sun set?
8 x 5
Why the sponsor?

The day Vitus Bering beat John Wayne

This journey began back in November 2004 in my country house when, one afternoon, I ended up watching a television channel with two well-mannered gentlemen, from “I-don’t-remember-which” American university, lounging in two faux leather armchairs set against the customary book-lined walls. They were discussing the discovery of Alaska by the Danish explorer Vitus Bering, who had been commissioned by one of history’s most enlightened rulers, the tsar Peter the Great.
I distractedly watched the show until it was over, impatiently waiting for the Western – starring the legendary John Wayne – that was scheduled to start after that seemingly innocuous historical-scientific debate.
I thought that the whistling arrows and gallops across green prairies and sunny deserts would make me forget all about Admiral Bering. Much to my surprise, however, the next day I was still thinking about him, whereas John Wayne had vanished in the inevitable cloud of dust of things seen too many times.
Helped by silence and an ambience that encourages certain fantasies, following Bering’s own suggestions I opened a map of the world on my table, tracing the route followed by his expedition. The days that followed were enough to transform that thin line, which I had initially traced with a pencil, into a deep, coloured furrow with branches, erasures, notes, dates and numbers.
Without any advance warning, my trip was born in that secluded old farmhouse, hidden in the woods of Umbria. At the time, however, I didn’t realize that I was just beginning an adventure, which would ultimately lead me to plan a trip around the world that I like to define as “particular”.
Bering – who came and went from my house at will by this time – was joined by Marco Polo, Lewis and Clark, and Leif Eriksson. One took me aside to suggest a different route, another instead advised against the trip, and yet another, his beard still encrusted with frost and salt, suggested safer routes and better seasons. It took some time to get everyone to agree, but I finally managed and a few nights later, exhausted and hoarse from all the shouting, by the fireplace we all drank a toast to “the trip to come”.
My natural curiosity was fuelled by my imagination and the insatiable desire to travel the unknown meridians and parallels of the fascinating history of the world, rather than trekking the seemingly adventurous trails of “seven days and five nights in Tibet, all-inclusive”.
As far as I remember, that was the first time I saw John Wayne turn his horse around and take off in a somewhat undignified getaway. I hope he won’t hold it against me, as I have always been a big fan of his, but that day I was glad he did.