From my house in Bari I can see my house in Beirut.
With all these concrete blocks of apartments intertwined.The windows with striped curtains.
I was born here on the Mediterranean. In southern Italy you are told that on cloudless days the gray haze you see on the horizon when you look out over the sea is actually Greece. That is what the word itself tells, after all: the Mediterranean – the sea between the countries. The sea that does not divide, but unites. The sea which is not just geography but philosophy. The sea as a metaphor.
A challenge for individualism and liberalism.
In 1989, the end of the Cold War was considered to be the end of history and the beginning of globalization, a united world led by the United States through the cultural and political supremacy of the great power. But then came 2001. With 9/11. We were reminded that the world is bigger than ours – that there are still many different worlds. If you want to fight fundamentalism, you have to start with your own world, with your own free trade fundamentalism.
At that time, the Arab world was only our gas station.
Who in 2001 had any idea what a hijab was? Or what a muezzin was?
Our world accommodated only the West, and nothing else.
I grew up in a Europe by the Mediterranean, an ocean that pretended to be an alternative to the Atlantic, an area with a rich history filled with expeditions and conquerors. I grew up with a sea of fishermen rather than pirates, a sea where leaves washed up on the beach are perceived as a trace of other people, where a border does not mean the world ends, but where differences meet and relationships become real and complicated.
An ocean that always teaches you to agree a little in the opponent's perspective.
This area around the Mediterranean, where we are all a bit similar.
As in all other cities
In every city it is always like in every other city. If you come to Bari, you will see a beach with sand and gravel similar to Croatia, with glassy, shallow water. At sunset, in the light of the promenade's cast iron lanterns, the street vendors walk around with mussels just right. . .