Tuesday, 16 June 2015

My home, our home, 10 years on

Somebody much wiser than me once wrote something on this line (bear with me, as I got no English version of the book and I'm translating from the Italian version of the French original):
"When a person we like gives us a book, we look for them at first between the lines, we look for their tastes, for the reasons they thrust it into our hands, for a sign of a brotherhood. [...] with the passing of the year, just a mention of the title is enough to bring back memories of that person [...]"
When we gift a book to somebody, we might think that they'll enjoy it, but primarily hope they'll find us inside the page. Well, at least I do and it's so convenient that Pennac managed to write it in such a wonderful and elegant manner, saving me the trouble of failing to express the same concept.
Some years ago a good number of my friends received the same book as present: for Christmas, for their birthdays, for no specific reason at all... it almost looked as if I had bought a stock of them and use them one by one. And that's not far from the truth, since I used to get into the bookshop and buy multiple copies of Giuseppe Culicchia's "Turin is my home" in a single go.

The book is a one of a kind guide to the city, pretty much as Turin is one of a kind city: it's described as a home and, like any other home, it has an entrance, it has a kitchen and a bathroom, alongside bedroom, living room, etc.
It came out about in the same timeframe I was packing by belongings and moving out of home, direction London. I used to bring back my copy of the book when visiting Torino, so I could re-read it the way I liked the best: sitting on a bus or tram, reading the chapters not in the way they were presented on the pages, but on how they came along on the bus route.

Reading at that time was quite bittersweet.
I loved my city but was so upset with her (she's always a lady to my eyes and my heart): I was upset at the lack of opportunities for me in there, at having to leave it, while at the same time struggling to break out of it. Giving that book to friends I was living behind had me hope they could understand my choices and find me hidden in between the lines when I'd have been faraway.

Ten years have passed and I still go through similar feelings nowadays, even though the distance has gone down and I'm barely one hour of train away.
Recently Culicchia has published a new book, "Turin is our home": it's not a sequel, more of a well needed rewrite. Which home stays the same for a whole decade without any change? A home that is not loved and lived, but Torino is loved and lived and consequently it changed, a lot. Sure, here and there you can still see the "old" Torino. Some parts haven't changed much, that's true, but some room went thorough a overall makeover that left them hardly recognizable, and there were also some expansion.

This time around I had no patience to wait to be back in Torino to read it on a tram, so I read in on trains and planes and now I'm waiting for Friday evening to be back home and read it on the metro, eager to read again a beautiful sentence that appears towards the end of the book and that hasn't left my mind ever since: "Beauty is needless, yet so indispensable".

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