In 1988, when I was 8 years old I took the ferry for my first trip outside of Italy (I had already been in Milan by my uncles and in Rimini, but who remembers it … I was 3-4 years old). We were the whole family: my parents, me and my twin brother.
The journey started from the port of Pescara, with the registered ferry “Titian” who did the summer service Pescara-Split, crossed the Adriatic and early in the morning, when the sun was rising, I got out of the cabin and next to my father I contemplated bridge the slow crossing of the archipelago of islands that faced the city of “Split”.
Having disembarked at about 9.00 am on the harbor quay, an edge of my father’s Rhythm 5 doors, we headed north along the Dalmatian coast.
The city of Split appeared quiet and hospitable, under the summer sun of August, so it is the beginning of an exciting journey through the Balkans. Of this experience I only have slides finished who knows dove in the garage (the classic slides that show up at the return to friends during an evening of late summer where we talk about the holidays just ended), then I have imprecise memories of a child of 8 as the arrival at Plivitc Park in the north of Yugoslavia (today Croatia), sadly famous afterwards for the first initial shootouts of the civil war. I remain impressed by the feelings and images of the long visit to the caves of Postumia (in today’s Slovenia), then the return to the south of the Balkans is shrouded in fog, without significant memories, up to the edge on the Dalmatian coast, the short stop in Mostar , and the next arrival in Dubrovnik.
Of that trip 30 years ago I said that I mostly remember sensations and indelible images, such as the enchanting spectacle of water and reeds, paths and small approaches on the banks of the Plivitch ponds, then I remember very well the train a narrow gauge with which we entered in the humid tunnels that connected the Postojna caves full of stalagmites and stalactites. Of Mostar I remember only a fleeting vision of the bridge that connected the two sides of the Neretva (which also became a symbol of the civil war in the 90s).
I remember very well the crowded coffee tables on the main square of Dubrovnik, overflown by flocks of pigeons, I remember the Roman columns and remains scattered around the crowded Dalmatian town, and I always remember my father who contracted with a middle-aged Macedonian, the purchase of some carved wooden objects that he displayed on a blanket spread on the pavement near the city walls. Since that bargaining lasted a few minutes, my father brought back a house carved into the table with a simple rural landscape, in addition to an inlaid wooden chessboard that we still use today for sporadic games played in the family.
In a garden in Split, waiting for the sunset, I remain short fragments of pine forests from the sun in a Mediterranean landscape very similar to the Italian, lazy days spent on the beach or in the shade of the trees. I also remember the convenience of prices and of the dinaro-lira exchange, modest shops and simple and quiet people, peace and quiet until the day of the re-embarkation on Titian, for the brief crossing of the Adriatic that concerned us in Pescara. So I finish my first journey of which I spoke, as a child, for months and years until the fading of those memories made great by childhood and that I still have fragmentary but indelible first travel….
See you soons