April 20, 2002 GMT
The beginning...

My story, briefly, starts after my graduation from the University of Florence in Italy. Already at that time a force inside me has brought me to look beyond the borders of my town and of Italy. I didn't have a specific direction to look at, perhaps it was just towards the unknown, but it was surely far where I was looking.

This force became desire and made me live in several countries and continents: from New York, Boston, Columbus - Ohio, to India and now to Shanghai, China.

I never understood how certain desires are born and how my nature brings me to want to live in the world, where the world is my home and I am his guest and explorer. I accept and follow my instinct because I recognize that traveling is for me, life itself.

Crossing China we will go through the silk road visiting the cities of Leshan, Xiahe (perhaps Xi抋n), Dunhuang and so on across the Gobi desert to the border region of Xinjiang until we will reach Kashgar: the last mythical outpost city on the Chinese silk road. From there we will enter the Karakorum mountain that will lead us to Pakistan through the Karakorum highway.

Built on a colossal joint project that saw Chinese and Pakistani alike working and dying together for a common cause, the Karakorum highway goes from Kashgar to Islamabad covering its highest point at the Khunjerab Pass at 4700 meters on the border between China and Pakistan.

Gilgit, Kamila, Taxila and Quetta will be only some of our stops in Pakistan. We will visit cities like Rawalpindi and Peshwara: two cities that once upon a time were the doors of culture and commerce between Central Asia and South Asia, today unfortunately publicized only for current political events.

Passing through Quetta we will go towards Iran that still holds all the beauty of the Persians and the influence of the Assyro-Babylonians.

Before reaching Tehran we will stop in mythical cities like Ban, Persepolis and Esfahan where we will be able to witness the very much alive Persian culture. This is a unique opportunity to visit this country not as a tourist but as a traveler, in contact with the people, their customs, witnessing the changes that are even happening there, in this modern cradle of the past.

A long stop will be dedicated to Persepolis, a mystical city that, almost forgotten in the folds of the past, is today still there to witness its past richness of culture and beauty; a symbol confirming how this heritage is not dead, but still lives in what once upon a time was called Persia.

This testimony will have its peak in Tehran, capital symbol of an Islamic modernism that wants to open to the world to show once again its splendor and its glamour of ancient customs still alive in what in the west we call postmodern age.

Tabric will take us on the road to Turkey, Empire of the Ottomans and today one of the most intriguing and fascinating places touching Europe. Dagi, Mersin, Ankara and Istanbul will be only some of the stops we will make before crossing the Bosphorus on the way to Alexandroupolis in Greece.

Greece, with its ancient city-states and its modern European life, mixed with the relaxation of the Mediterranean life and culture, will be our door to the heart of the Roman Empire.

After about 130 days of traveling, 18,000 km covered across 5 countries we will be on the doorstep of Italy, now not too far from my hometown, Lavagna (Genova) with a few more weeks left to explore the myriad of corners witnessing the past of the glorious Romans and the reality of medieval towns that are still part of Italy抯 daily life.

This is a trip to understand that perhaps it is true that all is relative, relative to life itself and to the people that live it in each of their realities. A trip to understand that perhaps real problems are not only the ones that we see in our comfortable developed world, but that they are, in a more realistic scale, the ones that, at the end, tie the people of these countries to their very existence.

This is a trip that was born in me and that slowly I saw connected to the reality of other people I know.

A dream, the will of wanting to do it and, one day, the simplicity of having said, 搕his is the time?

A trip that I wanted to share with people who, like me, have the passion for traveling. People for whom traveling is not a hobby, a status symbol, or an escape, but is a way of being; for whom traveling is part of them, if not life in itself.

So I started sharing this idea talking to friends, gathering their emotions, their expression of surprise, their worried eyes, and the signs of fear in front of what many judge as madness.

Then I thought I could to more if I could also share my emotions and this unique experience through the pictures I take, and using my ability to catch on film the moments, the smiles, the situations and the emotions, seeing sometimes what others don抰 see in the diverse cultures and people I will meet.

The ideas are many, the images and the story will surely be unique.

But most of all it will be the opportunity to share this with others.

My plan is to start from Shanghai in mid-April of 2002.

Stefano

Restless Travellers.

Posted by sqm at April 20, 2002 07:47 AM GMT
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