About the places that inhabit us

por Valéria Midena em February 12, 2014

Turner :: Venice: San Giorgio Maggiore – Early Morning :: 1819












From Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ to Calvino’s ‘Invisible Cities’, there are countless beautiful encounters between literature and travel throughout our history. Unlike tourist guides, who seek to provide practical information on a particular city or place, travel literature, through the narrative of experiences, discoveries and reflections, takes personal adventure to a universal dimension capable of stirring the imagination, arousing sensations and inspiring desires.

Just like people, places have no life but through the relationships built on and through them. Epic narratives, exile stories, fictional novels and even some travel diaries shed light on these relationships and play a key role in expanding our ability to perceive, feel and imagine the world we live in. Would our perspective on the Sicily be the same without reading the text on Lampedusa? What about our perception of Paris without the memories of Hemingway? We are aware of the infinite diversity of places, landscapes, people and cultures that inhabit our world, but only the experiences in such diversity speak to our souls, not their rational understanding.

Each of us carries within ourselves a deep framework of images, feelings, words, or smells that relate to places, whether experienced or dreamed, ranging from the nearest to the farthest. Composed of a mixture of memories, desires and impressions, this is a collection that we put together throughout our lives; within us, they remain silent, asleep – but the slightest reference to any of the places that live inside us awakes this universe.

In this sense, the experience of a journey begins long before its real departure. Choosing a destination, deciding how to get there, analyzing possibilities and defining the itinerary, the inclusion (or not) of someone to come along… Every step from the first moment preparing a trip results not only from a cultural repertoire, but mainly from this oneiric and sensory universe that inhabits us. The broader this universe is, the more beautiful our experience will be – and the more pleasure we will give our soul.