What makes moving become travelling? And what distinguishes a trip from a journey?
The means of transport definitely makes the difference, but as Kavafis taught us in his most famous piece of poetry (that which you perhaps have on the fridge as they have already made the magnet), “Ithaca has given you the beautiful journey” which, paraphrasing with licence and without offence to the poet, means: what does it matter that I’m going to work if I’m sunbathing at the same time, with Bobby McFerrin going round my head – “Don’t worry, be happy, don’t worry, be happy” – and he’s singing it only for me, whilst I cross Val Bisagno by bicycle?
Proust, also quoted on the fridge, poor devil, underlines that the true voyage of discovery involves not only searching for new lands, but also having new eyes. Therefore, I’m sorry, but I feel entitled to do just that.
I say goodbye to the cat, get on my new eyes and go out.
The first piece of road is a creuza (cobbled track) which I take in decline, stabilising the bike with my arms. I likes these creuze because they’re what remains of a time in which the passable roads were few, when people travelled to Genoa on foot, as my grandfather said, who lived in Genoa but near to the mountains and for this reason considered himself more a farmer than a city dweller. It was a time in which distances still meant something. Today ease of movement has changed us.
The first kilometre of road is downhill and is a lovely slope: I make myself do it without touching the brakes, in a way that the wind widens a smile on my face. According to the season, on the hills in front, there are brooms, snow, or green trees.
After the descent I go along the Bisagno. I agree, travelling along the Seine is another story. I will not start to write poetry about the clear, fresh waters of the Bisagno, but let me say: especially when the city is quiet, Saturday morning for example, hearing the sound of the water when I cross the Staglieno bridge, a noise which is natural, brings me comfort. Try to savour them, the natural sounds in your day: they are few. And if you go to work by car or bus they are even less because you don’t manage to hear them. I like to stock them up.
My daily journey continues along a tree-lined road. Sycamores change the quality of the road according to the season, sending leaves under your wheels, then round fruits, then shadows. It’s nice to hear them swishing, the leaves make a sound like paper, like that of an unsatisfied writer tearing out a page.
Once one fell right into my eye. A leaf, I mean. It really hurt, that’ll teach me to see poetry everywhere.
I pass by Piazza Colombo and find myself in Via XX Settembre, finally arrived at my destination.
If I still have some time I take a trip around the fountain in Piazza De Ferrari.
I have decided that one day or another I’ll go around the fountain once, twice, ten times like that game where you repeat a word, getting quicker, until it seems that it has lost all meaning and has become a new word.
Have I been on a trip or a journey? I don’t know.
I have definitely arrived at work with windswept hair.