All posts tagged as journey


The secret heart of the empire

Le città invisibili, 2021

The fascination of a book lies not only in what it says openly but also in what it whispers.

Specific concepts that are only hinted at or deliberately withheld are like pauses in music:
have the same value as the notes.

In Italo Calvino’s ‘Invisible Cities’ there’s an empire made up of tangible things but also of things perceived, felt, and imagined.

That is to say, a complex organism comes to life in the white space that separates one word from another.

These elements present in the cities’ descriptions Marco Polo makes to the Kublai Khan constitute the reality that the Tartar emperor will never know directly.

The empire is too large and boundless, and Kublai is too old and tired to go and visit it.

Anyway, for a few days, through the foreigner’s words, the emperor will be able to reach the secret heart of his kingdom and hear it beat.

He’ll feel he owns it more than ever.


Semiotics should be every artist’s field of study: symbols and images are daily bread for artists.

Calvino knew this well.

For instance, the city is a potent symbol, and what Marco Polo describes to the Khan are living signs of the human spirit.

When Polo talks of feelings and emotions, he’s also talking about towers, walls, houses, shops and streets.


In the book, the various locations of the empire are grouped into different categories: cities ​​of memory, desire, signs, exchanges, dead, hidden, continuous, etc …

The categories are precise characteristics of those places, which can be found in every city’s aspect or minor detail.

All cities have female names.


So imagine, for a moment, that you have to describe the city where you were born or live.

To the description of the monuments or places of significant civic or artistic interest, you would add the life you see in the streets and squares, desires, expectations and fears of the men who live there and who animate it.

Cities are not built with concrete, brick, wood or marble.
Cities are the embodiment of human ideals, large and small.

Indeed, it’s no coincidence that Rome is universally known as the ‘ Urbe ‘, which means the city par excellence.

Precisely as the Bible is the book par excellence.

And moreover, as the saying goes, ‘ Rome was not built in a day ‘: it takes the conditions, patience and dedication to realise a great ideal.

And perhaps eternity will not be enough since we also know Rome as the ‘ Eternal City ‘.


At the end of Marco Polo’s account, Kublai Khan feels himself, for the first time, lord and master of his empire.
He visualises it within himself and loves it as if it were one of his sons.

In conclusion, the chaos generated the cosmos of which our world is a part.
Disorder symbolises sublime creativity.

Until next

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A million memories

Il Milione, 2021

Let’s play a game.

Close your eyes and imagine you perceiving a pungent smell of spices, of fish mixed with the scents of precious essences.
Imagine hearing the quiet lapping of the sea, living in the hypnotic city of Venice and being young.

Your name is Marco Polo.

You certainly know that you live in the centre of an incredible and magical world, but you feel annoyed, restless and unsatisfied.

You have millions of expectations and desires.

So, sooner or later, you will leave home, as far away as possible and no matter where.


Your journey towards unknown destinations fascinates you like the ‘song of the Sirens’, even when it could become dangerous and uncertain.

But, after all, you haven’t much to lose and much to gain.

Perhaps you’ll return home rich in goods and money, but in the end, your mind and heart will be full of incomparable visions and memories.

You’ll come back with a different light in your eyes.


And after thousands of kilometres through lands and sea, deserts and glaciers, of encounters with emperors, kings, tempting girls and murderous marauders, you will feel the unstoppable need to return to your country, to your world.

That world that we always carry with us, always inside us.

Even the ‘different one’, we bring it inside us.

Therefore you will discover that you have walked not a path in a straight line but on a circle.

So you realise that you are the traveller, the journey and the destination.


What the human story of the man Marco Polo and his fantastic memories show us it’s the supreme value of human curiosity.

The curiosity to know what is different from us to better know and understand ourselves.

And in that journey towards this knowledge, real or metaphorical, we will create a million priceless memories for ourselves and those who meet us.

This is the experience of true travelling for every human being.

Until next

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