my home is Europe

The day the UK decided to exit Europe, for me as for many Europeans working in London (as well as for actually most of the people I know there), has been one of the saddest I can remember in the last few years.It wasn’t just about uncertainty; it was rather a huge, sudden, and frankly totally unexpected loss of identity. Which made me realize something I had never been clearly aware of: my home is not Italy, it is not the UK: my home is Europe.

As part of a generation born and raised nomadic by default, the idea of suddenly losing the freedom to move between countries at will and to call home places, people and landscapes which are not our native ones, is almost unconceivable.

I spent a couple of days mourning, unable to shake off a sense of impending doom. Then, I suddenly knew what I had to do. I was going to show the UK what it was going to miss.

I bought an Interrail ticket: something random that I always wanted to do and never done before seemed appropriate to the moment. I didn’t know exactly where I wanted to go, except that I wanted to be able to be on trains that can still cross borders without the need of a passport.

Eventually I travelled through Eastern Italy, Slovenia, Austria and Czech Republic; the heart of Mittel Europe, all places linked in a way or another to friends and to my origins.

My friend Nevio says that in a clear day you can see 3 countries from here: Italy, Croatia and Slovenia.

Ljubljana has been elected European Green Capital this year, but in my view is so much more than that. First, is home to my bestest friend Matjaz, who’s not famous at European level yet, but should! Second, it’s the most beautiful city you can imagine: its river running placidly through its old centre, its majestic buildings, the amazing Tivoli park through which I walked every day... and the arts, everywhere and for everybody. Everything invites you to take it easy here and to stop, appreciating life.

Remember the movie “The Chronicle of Narnia”? Remember those enchanted forests, the fairytale landscapes? If you have ever wondered where it was filmed, well, this is the place.
On the border with Germany and Poland, this is the youngest and most unknown of Czech Republic’s national parks. It’s been described as “A mystical landscape of pine forests and deep valleys, with majestic rock towers, gates, walls, ravines, rock cities and labyrinths rising up from them”.
I spent a day walking along a little river called Kamenice which runs just in the middle of it; for most part of the day, I was alone on the track. The unspoiled beauty of this place is something I will never forget.

This has been an emotional journey for me; from the starting point of Milan Central Station to a hidden forest in northern Czech Republic, from the blissful solitude of the train journeys to the frenzied crowd of the centre of Prague, from a kingly 19th century hotel suite in Klagenfurt to a small hostel in Salzburg, from the excitement to be on the road again to the joy of being with my friends and of making new ones, all I had in my heart at all time was:
this, all this is Europe. This, all this, is home.