I took the only photo you’ll find in this article in December 2018 when I visited my family who now lives in Portugal. From the moment I took it, I felt very strongly about it and haven’t published it until now.
What you see in the photo are old passport photos of my grandparents, of which only my grandma is still alive, a boutonnière my dad wore on his lapel the day of my wedding, an old book in piedmontese about traditional recipes of Piedmont, the region I grew up in and few other memorabilia. All things that seem not to be connected with each other, but that for me mean home, mean roots, mean saudade. I stumbled upon this photo a few days ago and thought about my family and the many closed borders between us. Maybe for the first time since I left I really felt like wanting to move closer to them.
This made me also start to think about traveling, which has been a great passion of ours. As you know, we’ve always preferred slow travel over anything else, and our Interrail trips are proof of that. Even as a kid, we always traveled by car and my first flight (if we don’t count the ones I took as a baby to and from South America) was at the age of 19 from Finland to Italy to visit family. With Klaus, when we had to fly, we always tried to stay many weeks in a place, so as to get the most out of it. Nevertheless I now have no desire to start long distance traveling for recreation anytime soon. Here are the two primary reasons.
I hope this new situation will help people reevaluate the way they travel, making it more responsible. Flights are often very cheap, encouraging people to fly more and for shorter periods of time, such as for a weekend city holiday. This has been really detrimental, though, and aviation has had an enormous environmental impact on our planet. So next time it’ll be possible to book a flight, one might really stop and consider whether it’s just on a whim or there’s an actual, intentional plan behind that purchase. Because you know, there are also other options, and this leads me to my second argument.
Appreciate local tourism
Another thing I hope this new, bizarre situation we are in would encourage is local tourism. Local tourism is something I deeply regret not having done in Italy. There are so many places to discover nearby home, even within your own city or in your region. We tend to fantasize over faraway, exotic destinations, when there is so much unknown just around the corner. Many times there’s no need to fly far away to see new sights; something truly worth seeing might be a car or train ride away.
I mentioned I regret not having done much local tourism in Italy. When my region, Piedmont, was nominated by Lonely Planet as the Best Region of 2019, I even more so realized how much I had missed out. That’s why I created the #PiedmontUnveiled movement, to help people connect and share all the hidden gems Piedmont has.
My summer goal for 2020 is to explore my surroundings to a greater extent. I came to Finland and looked at it with the eyes of a tourist but, as time passed by, lots of things just became the norm. I want to rediscover the beautiful nature around me, from a different perspective, but more on that later.
Going back to that photo, my grandpa was not a fan of traveling. Every year we’d spend a week in Liguria, a few hours drive from home, but what he really liked to do was to stay at home and be busy with the everyday activities of his little farm and orchard. I kinda see his point now.