I really wanted to go to Africa
West of St Louis
It was September just yesterday



I really wanted to go to Africa!

I really wanted to go to Africa!
Yes, I wanted to go to Africa, the fascinating destination of the last great geographical explorations. I wanted to retrace the routes of the famous travelers of the 19th century, intertwining them with the ones of the African politicians of the following century, people who were quickly forgotten by a world that has shown little interest in history, instead focusing entirely on the consumeristic vision of the violence of daily life. I wanted to go to Africa to see if the rainforests are still as green as they were the last time I was there, linger on the dunes of a desert so beautiful it is virtually impossible to recount, and get lost in markets where colors and smells mingle into a unique blend that is hard to forget.

But then something unexpected happened: my publisher sent me the first copy of my book, Irina è andata via. Lettere da intorno al mondo. As I reread the stories, looked at the pictures from my trip and turned the pages – almost caressing them, with the same tenderness and awe you feel the first time you hold your long-desired baby in your arms – I felt as if something had been left unfinished, something I had left behind, across the Atlantic Ocean in the United States … a tale waiting to be taken up again and retold.
Over the next few days, I realized that the map of the United States, with its seemingly confused and colorful web of mysteriously numbered roads that start in one place only to vanish into another, was sitting there on my desk, impatiently waiting for me to unfold it, examine it and then refold it again (never the same way), heedless of the insults of my pencil marking momentarily imaginary itineraries only to change them the next day. At that point it dawned on me: Africa and its rainforests, deserts and markets would have to wait a little longer.

So I will go to the United States, the America of the Wild West, to discover stories and bring back the images of a world that is far from the inordinately famous New York–Miami–Orlando–Los Angeles (with a stopover in Las Vegas) route. I will go to places that people don’t have the time or inclination to visit because they think there is little to see and even less to grasp.

My journey will start in the autumn, when the Oregon air smells like must and the first cold winds blow from Montana, across the plains of Wyoming and through the forests of Utah and the Dakotas. I will get a first-hand view of a country that, around the days of Indian summer, the first snowfall, Halloween trick-or-treats and Thanksgiving turkey, will choose its new president. Regardless of who wins, he will be the president of a nation with which the whole world must deal in the future.

And so? So wait for me, Africa, and don’t be upset that I have momentarily set you aside

… You know I love you.


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