Northern Italy, 21-31/08/2020
I left Italy eight years ago with a bag full of dreams and bitterness.
I never really knew how it felt like to belong, or to fully have the chance to feel comfortable in my own skin.
Blame it on the machismo, or on the Roman Catholic imprinting, or on a society where conformism is the norm and your value as a person goes hand in hand with your social status.
Abroad I finally stopped feeling like an outcast and I was given the tools to finally start working on the person I always wanted to become.
If it hadn’t been for my parents and the strong bond that unites us, I guess I would have probably had no reasons to actually return to my hometown.
Going back meant having to deal with a series of ghosts that I had tried to forget about and with an overwhelming feeling of inadequacy.
But this time around, it turned out to be very different.
I went back as a queer adult, proudly holding the hand of my boyfriend and determined not to let anything or anybody affect the way I carry myself.
Well, I guess that, when you’re prepared for the worse, things can only surprise you for the better.
In a matter of 10 days, I went from introducing Christoph to my parents and dragging him to camp in the mountains, to venturing on a north Italian “grand tour” by car touching the Lake of Como, Liguria in the North West coast, and Venice in the North East.
The Italy I came across was very different from the one of my memories. People were kinder, very talkative and generally friendly in a way I had never witnessed.
I had to stop and ask myself whether, maybe, I had been too harsh for years, or simply, the person I had become was actually able to make people feel more comfortable and willing to open up.
The queer factor? Of course some alpha males turned up their nose and some teenagers giggled, but what I want to focus on is the amount of smiles that met our eyes or the supportive words I overheard from people who thought I couldn’t understand Italian. I will never forget the old man that in Burano unexpectedly said out loud “l’amore é amore”, love is love, to a skeptical woman on the other side of the canal or how empowering I felt while walking across the main square of Sondrio, my hometown, during the aperitivo hour with his arm around my shoulder.
These days were, once again, an incredibly intense rollercoaster of emotions. My heart melted while I witnessed Christoph and my parents coming together and being themselves with each other. We challenged the cold woods and their more or less dangerous wildlife. We cuddled up in the cozy den we made up each night in our car. We drove on narrow coastal roads while singing on top of our lungs. We didn’t shower for days and wore each other’s clothes. I lost my shit a few times while trying to make everything perfect to then realise that there was nothing better than let go of control. We kissed in the pouring rain, jumped off the cliffs, and watched the stars and realised neither of us has a clue about the constellations.
We ate the most mouth-watering food, connected with some hearts of gold and visited awe-inspiring places.
We lost and found ourselves several times and grew each and every time a little bit stronger and closer.
“la luna fulminante”
Varenna/Bellagio/Abbadia (Lago di Como)
Canon EOS 300, Fujicolor C200/Kodak Portra 400 (35)