Ventimiglia, Italia

 

These photos were taken last year, when I went on holidays in France. The border with Italy was only an hour’s drive away, so we went, of course. There was this charming little town called Ventimiglia and I would have stayed there longer if I could.

When you drive in a car through beautiful places you go into a sort-of trance. Buildings and landscapes go by quickly, hardly allowing you to take a second glance at them. While you’re still in France, everything looks more or less neat and orderly, but as soon as you pass the long arching bridge, the border, you can feel a change: the air is somehow more riotous, more southern, busier.

The houses are a patchwork quilt of various colours stacked on top of each other, the roofs piles of shiny tin plates. The windows are open and laundry flutters on long washing lines like doves. The roads are narrow and winding, curling this way and that unexpectedly.

You enter the city and everything is noisy: people chatting, shouting, bartering with each other. Cars honk and dogs run wildly across the street. It’s difficult to find a parking spot in this chaos but eventually you find one and everyone is relieved.

It’s hot and the sun seems to glare down at anyone who doesn’t hide in the shade. Small water taps are there for anyone who needs a refreshment: a line of people forms, everyone aching for a drop of water.

A little further on is a large market place under a large rooftop, in the shade. Stalls selling various products line the walls: you see ripe fruit and vegetables and it’s evident they have soaked up the sun’s rays themselves. Sausages of all sorts and huge proscuitto hams hang from the ceiling tied with brown, stringy ropes.

You don’t know how many types of pasta there are until you visit an actual Italian town. Red, green, orange,yellow, black,white, stripy pasta. Long thin spaghetti, thick spaghetti, flat and squared and round. Capellini, fusilli, bucatini, vermicelli, fettuccine, pappardelle, cannelloni, macaroni, farfalle, lumaconi… The list goes on and on.

Friendly and inviting people smile at you in the streets, inviting you to their family restaurant. The warm atmosphere makes you feel cozy and loved and the food… Oh the food! Lasagne and pizza must be one of the greatest inventions in history…

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