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The Joy of Hypotheticals - part 2

Have you ever thought you were reincarnated?

The Arch of Augustus, Rimini

 

Have you ever visited somewhere for the first time and felt you've been there before, even though there's no way you could have been? Have you visited somewhere a few times and yet felt sure you've lived there before? I'm not talking about déjà vu – it's stronger than that. It's a pure consciousness, a certain feeling, a hint that keeps growing inside and leads you to start asking questions about who you are, who you might have been, even who you have been. You know it. You're even not scared to think it out loud. You've been reincarnated.

 

Obviously not everyone will have had this experience – if all, or even most of us had, we'd talk about the fact of reincarnation, rather than belief in it. But as a rationalist who's had this experience it's been so powerful, so freaky, I can't help but want to share it.

 

In June, for my summer holiday, I returned to where I feel I truly belong, despite having been born in Poland and whatever some of the locals seem to think: Italy. Almost a thousand miles long, this shoe-shaped peninsula offers so much to its inhabitants they don’t even seem to realise what they've been given and how lucky they are. They’ve got everything: Lakes, seas, sandy and rocky beaches, mountains, Pianura Padana (the Po Valley, the biggest plain in the Mediterranean basin), breathtaking landscapes, countless dialects and a history that is still being discovered.

 

They say “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence”. I saw this proverbial grass in Italy, touched it, smelled it, and rolled in it. Not only is it greener (and probably tastier), it’s more intense in its colour and smell than you could imagine until you’ve seen it. (I dunno, have you ever been to Ireland? – Ed)

 

On numerous occasions I’ve joked that I must have been Italian in one of my previous lives. The truth is I do believe that our souls, or spiritual energies, whatever you call our essences, travel, swap places, change intensity and evolve. It seems to me that there must be something more to life than eternal death after our terrestrial journey.

 

This all comes from an almost tangible – and hard to explain – fact: Each time I cross the border into Italy, whether it’s in Ventimiglia, Brennero, Tarvisio or Trieste, I get very strong goose pimples (goose mountains?) and feel shivers down my spine. Once, when I flew in to Rome and landed at Ciampino Airport, my inner voice shouted: “Welcome home”. I manage to refrain from kneeling and kissing the Italian soil – I’m not the Polish pope after all – but something inside me soothes me, comforts me and tells me that I’m home.

 

Have I ever been Italian then? I dare believe I still am, remotely, spiritually, transcendently. I love it so much there I want to have been Italian and maybe I’ll return there in a future life. For now, all I have is this: A deep, sweet sensation of having already traveled this path and the hope of completing my current journey, relaxing somewhere in my beloved Italy's green valleys, colourful hills and picturesque beaches.

 

After my article last month about national stereotypes you might ask: “Why do you want to be Italian? Come on! Funny nation, pasta eaters, waving their hands while speaking – shouting, actually – driving their cars like crazy, not using indicators, not to mention their total lack of a road courtesy, always in rush, impolite and not serious. No, be anything other than Italian”.

 

This powerful feeling that I was Italian in a previous life, becomes stronger – and the voice welcoming me home becomes louder – when I reach Romagna, my favourite of Italy's 19 regions. But why is Romagna my favourite? It became my home for many nights between 1992 and 2002 when I was working as a tour leader and showing my fellow Poles some of Europe's many delights, but my love for it dates from the moment I first arrived there. Was I incarnated there before?

 

It’s like Italia in Miniatura a famous theme park on the northern outskirts of Rimini, Romagna's capital, which contains models of almost every major Italian monument. You walk amongst them, take pictures, and feel like you are everywhere, from the heights of the Alpine Monte Rosa to the most southern sun-scorched parts of Sicily.

 

It’s like Laura Pausini’s voice, known to whoever listens to Italian music. Laura (born in the Romagnan town of Faenza) won Italy's national song contest in San Remo (in 1993) with an absolutely unforgettable song called “La Solitudine” and became a living legend of Italian musica contemporanea. You may not understand the lyrics, but the music speaks loud enough.

 

It’s like piadina romagnola, a sort of flatbread that tastes the best there and nowhere else.

 

Romagna is history, like the Rubicon, one of its rivers. Only 50 miles long, Julius Caesar uttered the famous phrase "alea iacta est" – the die is cast – there before he returned to Rome and became its dictator in 49 BC. Or Ravenna's world famous mosaics from the Basilica di san Vitale or di San Apollinare, Forli's and Ferrara's medieval castles.

And Rimini's ancient monuments, such as Anfiteatro Romano, Ponte Tiberio or Arco di Augusto (picture on the top of this article) along with the more modern architecture built and maintained by the Malatesta Family are the main spots to visit.

private collection, M. Mironowicz, Palazzo Malatesta, Rimini, taken on 18.06.2018

Palazzo Malatesta, Rimini

 

Not everyone knows that Rimini was the birth place of Federico Fellini, one of  Italy's most important film makers, and the nearby airport located closer to Riccione bears his name too.

 

Romagna is millions of people’s dreams soaked in the sea that softly touches its shores; it's everything you could ever dream of: Sunshine, warm rains, beautiful mountains on the western horizon and endless plains with green fields.

 

Private collection, M. Mironowicz, The Apennine Mountains, view from Borgo Maggiore, Repubblica di San Marino , 18.06.2013

The Apennine Mountains, view from Borgo Maggiore, Repubblica di San Marino

 

It's also the amazing chain of the Monte Titano, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site that rises more than 2,400 ft above sea level and looks down over the republic of San Marino, one of the smallest world’s countries. I was very lucky to spend seven of last June’s nights in one of the republic's nine castles, Borgo Maggiore. Imagine waking up every morning and seeing this view, guaranteeing you a great day and even better night:

 

Private collection, M. Mironowicz, The Titan Mount, Repubblica di san Marino, 23.06.2013

 

The proud sammarinesi call their land l’Antica Terra della libertá (ancient Land of Freedom) and they let you know about that when you cross the borderline between Italy and their Republic:

 

Private collection, M. Mironowicz, The official and the biggest motorway borderline crossing between Italy and the Republic of Saint Marin, Road Nr. 72 (Rimini - San Marino), Dogana, Repubblica di San Marino, 18.06.2013

The official border between Italy and the Republic of Saint Marino

 

England’s and Poland’s football teams play San Marino in the FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifiers. Why not go there and see for yourself? All that I am describing is just a tip of a beautiful breathtaking tasty cake that once tasted always stays in your heart.

 

Romagna is romagnolo, the Italian dialect spoken there, in part of Tuscany and in part of the region of Marches. You might hear its sounds on the most listened to Radio Studio Delta, referring to the biggest Italian river’s estuary. Even today I often visit its sito internet and listen to the latest Italian sounds, commercials, or just a thrilling jingle to remind myself of the best years of my professional life when I was working there as tour leader.

 

Every time I go there, I wanna sing a song that all Italians, no matter from where, from Valle d'Aosta, through Liguria, Tuscany, Lazio, Umbria down to Calabria and Puglia know by heart: "Romagna mia".

 

“Romagna, my Romagna, far away from you one cannot be!”

 

Ultimately in this lifetime it's highly unlikely we'll ever know for sure whether we've been reincarnated. When I'm there, it seems a certainty; when I'm here, it's all a beautiful dream, a taste of heaven on earth. And, to be honest with you, that's more than most humans can wish for and is enough, for now, for me.

 

All photos are copyright the author.

Matt Mironowicz

About the Writer

 

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