November-December 2011. I struggle to believe it’s been already nearly six years since that trip that meant so much to me. It was a holiday, a mad act of love, a journey of self-discovery. I was answering a calling from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, but most of all I was following a voice from inside of me. My voice, finally.
I said “a mad act of love”. The day before my flight to Rio, Rome (I was still living in Rome) was ironically hit by a sudden, unusual and sensational SNOW STORM! It snowed all day, and Romans can confirm that our beloved city is totally not prepared or equipped to face that kind of emergency. The result was that a lot of flights were cancelled, all the buses were stopped and you could barely see a car circulating (let alone a taxi). I spent the night attached to the computer screen, praying that my flight would not be cancelled, with my parents not understanding why was that trip so important to me. Surprisingly my flight from Fiumicino Airport remained confirmed, so the morning after (at 5.30 a.m.) I left my house and dragged my heavy suitcase in the snow, walking for one kilometer to reach the nearest tube station. Buses were still down, so I had to catch two trains, praying to make it to the airport on time. On my phone some of my friends were rooting for me via sms. I made it. I checked in and I flew to Rio.
This is a photo album with some beautiful memories of that holiday and that fascinating city.
The exhibition “India!” at Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil was the first event I attended upon my arrival in Rio, and it was spectacular. It surely triggered my interest towards exploring and getting to know Asia, the cultures and traditions of that part of the world that was unknown to me. The exhibition included interactive and musical lectures about Hinduism and Buddhism, and rooms of marvellous contemporary art.
I can’t quite describe the feeling I had when I walked along the seaside at Ipanema and Copacabana. I remember that for the first couple of days the sun was pale, and the sky was a bit cloudy and misty… The beach was enveloped in a magical halo, and I experienced a sense of total freedom and fullness. It was like walking on air. Was it the love high? Sure, that played a big part, but the scenery I was surrounded by was mesmerising.
There’s a rock formation that separates the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana, and if you climb to the top you can have probably the best view of all the surrounding area.
When I took the following picture I knew immediately the title I would have given to it: “Listen”. That was the moment I finally realised the importance of listening carefully to ourself, to our inner voice. Never leave it unheard.
Brazilian people are probably one of the kindest people you would meet in the world. Much alike us Italians, they open their heart easily and they love to make you feel at home. On sale along the street in Copacabana I saw this t-shirt saying “Gentileza gera gentileza” (“Kindness generates kindness”). It doesn’t happen always, unfortunately, but we should never give up on this idea. We should generate the change that we want to see around us, everyday. More kindness is what we need.
“Pão de Açúcar” means “sugar loaf”: it’s the iconic cone-shaped mountain you see in many pictures of sunsets over Rio. The summit is reachable by a cable car system that stops halfway on top of the shorter peak Morro da Urca. On the top of Pão de Açúcar the vegetation is flourishing and you have the chance to spot many little monkeys jumping between trees (it was basically impossible for me to take an unblurred photo of them) and tiny colourful parrots. Heavenly place.
Another iconic peak, Corcovado. Where the statue of Christ The Redeemer welcomes all tourists and pilgrims with arms wide open and eyes of wisdom. We took the train through the natural park, then walked up to the top. I remember that the wind was so strong we had to grab each other arms and ground ourself to the floor. But how spectacular it was… The city from up there looked Lego made. And in my ears the lyrics of that famous Antônio Carlos Jobim’s song called “Corcovado” were resonating so brightly:
“…E eu que era triste
Descrente deste mundo
Ao encontrar você eu conheci
O que é felicidade meu amor…”
And then there were beach days. And long walks drinking coconuts with a straw. Abundant food cooked with care. Promises for the future and life lived for the moment. And Christmas trees, because it was already Christmas season! So strange for me to see Christmas settings in a summer weather for the first time!
There was all this and much much more, in the space of ten days. There was Tay, who I’ll always thank for that little window of time when our paths have crossed, really. And there was Rio, with all its magic.
(Oh and we saw this live. Awesome.)