“Italy is a dream that keeps returning for the rest of your life,” – Anna Akhmatova. Italy has called me often. And each time I have met with her, I have become the person I have always wished to be. Here’s my tribute to Italy. Text By Amit Aggarwal and images by Ankit Chawla
Sometimes as a Voyager looking to borrow inspiration of her.
Sometimes as a Lover, trying to have a taste of her.
Sometimes as a Confidant, to share a secret of her.
In my early 20s, I was embarking upon my own life’s journey. She was called Rome, and tales of her beauty and riches travelled far. Upon the very first sight, she enthralled me with her robust framework and immaculate architecture. The incandescence of her skin and texture, her golden painterly exterior, too serene to allow for human touch. She danced around in her fineries, her kin being the likes of Valentino, Prada, and Armani. She teased me each day and night leaving me with an insatiable desire to taste her, smell her but then I was just an explorer, still trying my own destiny and her, a temptress.
In my early 30s, I had grown into someone of my own. Dressed in my finest, carrying the pride of my recent achievements, I met her again. The million setting suns had made Florence, as she now calls herself, glisten more than what I last remembered of her. She took me out for long walks on her cobbled streets, crossing over her many wonderful bridges, chasing the whiff of her scent every time she opened her hair. The smoke rising from her flames and the symphony of her spoken music while she let me sip her slowly. And as the stars lit her dark eyes, she tucked my weary feet into the warmth of her bed and bade me farewell.
In my late 30s, my broken heart had been mended by the love of a young man. During one of our travels together, over one of her never fading sunsets, we ran into her. She shyly introduced herself as Napoli, while her glowing rays serenaded Amalfi. She seemed to have grown older, her chase no longer virile. We exchanged a glance but words fell short.
A distant song faded over the waters as she turned away, filling the dusky air slowly with the grey of her hair. I caught myself a glimpse of the twinkling stars, she wore in them as she swayed away.
I stood there, still, as the edges of her waters were filling me with her secret.
Faint visions of her, appear once more. A sorcerer, a jester, a draper, a musician, an epicure, a healer gather upon the call of their mother. For her emptiness longs for magic, her eyes dim without the shine of a hearty laugh while she prepares to go unsavoured and her shredded robes bare a pair of rhythmless feet.
In the healing hope of her blushing wounds, where roses once found their greater beds.