Amateur photographer, professional traveler

“London is a bad habit one hates to lose.”

It is the city of Harry Potter, Alice, Shakespeare and Sherlock Holmes, so despite the brexit, the political behavior to Italy during the emergency, and the snobbery, I will love London forever and unconditionally.

And I miss it so so much, because over the years it had become a secure destination, with its powerful smells and the accent that makes me fall in love with every citizen, with its old monuments and new architecture, with its breakfast which for me is a lunch and dinner which for me is a snack. With its illogical schedules, the people always running, endless queues, tea.

London is a gothic and sinister city, but it’s also warm and welcoming. What always strikes me about London is the sun.

Because for years, thanks to literature, films, TV series, the stories of those who had been there, I had imagined this city covered by a perennial and scary gray sheet. A blanket of pollution and bad weather. A ghost above the city.

4This is why the first suitcase I made to go to London was full of sweatshirts, terry socks, k-way and scarves. It was July. But when I arrived, the sun astonished me so fiercely that I had to buy protective glasses.

 

It was at that moment that I realized that the only opinions that really matter in life are your own.

I went in London about 11 times, I believe that apart from my beloved Rome, it is the city that I have visited and experienced deeply.

In August on the London Eye I got so much rain that I thought I was drowning, once in May I  burned my skin, lying down to read in Hyde Park and in November while I was walking down Carnaby Street there was the scent of chestnuts everywhere but there were neither carts nor shops that sold them.

18On the other hand, everywhere I turned there were fish and chips [1]retailers, which I thought was a street food and therefore a kind of Neapolitan paper bag with slight and tasty fish and small fries, instead it is a fat and runny codfish sack, surrounded by potatoes – each as big as my hand. 

My absolute favorite place is the Tower of London, because it immerses me in a world apart, it’s like time stops and I can hear Shakespeare write Richard III. And because it hides stories and secrets, jewels and dramas, and it is one of the first attractions I visited, but I think it is above all because it is there that I saw my brilliant and C2 language patent holder brother, ask for a “cook” instead of a “spoon” to eat a “soap”. An indelible moment![2]

 

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I’ve been almost everywhere, in Camden town, Shaftesbury Avenue, Notting Hill, Portobello Road, Covent Garden, Woolwich, Kilburn, London Bridge,  wax museum, cinema museum, museum of sea, museum of museums (yes, this also exists). In summer and winter, autumn and spring. I was a tourist and a citizen. A visitor and a traveler. I ate at Starbucks and at the dirtiest and filthiest taverns ever. I’ve slept in luxury homes and in smelly motels. I was on the double-decker bus and I took the subway.

I have been there with friends and relatives, and looking at it with their eyes I found myself always discovering it new, always different. Always beautiful. Dirty, stinking, chaotic.

And gorgeous.

You have to get lost in London, wander meaninglessly that you will always find something to do and see and buy. You have to let yourself be carried away by the flow of people always running and stop, go against the flow like salmon. Because for every known monument there is an equally beautiful hidden alley. And for every musician, street artist and circus performer you meet, there is a clochard, a poor man, an alcoholic who asks you for donations.

It is a crazy city, full of contradictions.

Maybe that’s why I love it, because I’m like that too.

I have never felt alone in London, even when I was alone. Also, because it is always tea time (or beer ) which means that there is always someone in a tea room (or in a pub) with whom to chat: A Babel that is incomprehensible sometimes, yet magical.

I lived for a while in Cambridge which is definitely cheaper than the capital, but just as full of things to see, starting with the Cam: a small oasis of peace made of colleges, bicycles and cigarettes, full of students, books and art.

One morning while I was on a break between classes, nomadic around a market I found a copy of Harry Potter and the half-blood prince – my favorite, mercilessly shattered by the film adaptation – for £ 3, to then discover it worth £ 250 !!! I have still been unable to find the other books in that edition.

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Ah, what a rogue nostalgia!

 

I don’t know when I can go back to you my dear London, in the meanwhile, I will visit you in books, music and souvenirs.

 

 

 


[1] https://www.thespruceeats.com/best-fish-and-chips-recipe-434856
[2] To be honest I have to admit that I have asked for a “stick house” instead of a “steak house” to a gentleman, in the middle of Soho. I have the B2 certificate.

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