Italiano Celentano
01 September 2016

Italiano Celentano

Armenia welcomes us with embarrassing hospitality.
With a simple and genuine attitude, a warm and silent approach, people here impose a fierce comparison with my sophistication.
I cannot run behind somebody do give them a peach.
I find myself staring in their eyes, in their wrinkles contracting into a welcoming smile, looking for the secret of their amazing humanity.
An elderly couple literally saves us after a day pedaling among clouds and mud, giving us shelter in their humble home in an isolated town, at almost two thousand meters of altitude. They give us food and a bed. Although we could not communicate, we became their grandchildren. And their neighbors’ grandchildren.
They approached with no mistrust, with the dignity of somebody who as no gas or running water but makes you feel like you are in a castle.
The other side of the story is that we found our bags filled with peaches. And figs. And apples. And coffees.
And mountains.
With Armenia, we welcomed mountains, with 2,500 meters high passes, by bike this time.
Climbs that seem to never end and end with the beautiful view of a valley that also looks never-ending; they are the strongest connection between the road and your feelings.
It is almost embarrassing to see how slowly we climb, loaded like donkeys.
Bicycles, unstoppable and fast in the plains, become incredibly heavy: they are loaded with everything we have, everything we need (plus the fruit).
Road-wheels-body, the slow pace allows you to appreciate-enjoy-suffer with every strike on the pedals.
A little further with every strike, with determination.
And then, the last meters, where you see the limit of the road cutting the sky because after that, higher up, there’s nothing.
The descent is pleasure, pure gratification, the road compensates your efforts, the wind dries up the sweat and you bless the invention of the wheel.
Plus usually, after the descent, there’s lunch.
Armenia, however, also marks the beginning of a long dietary monotony that will accompany us throughout the Middle East.
Between one mountain and another, our presence is always saluted with the motto “Italiano Celentano!”.
I’m wondering if Celentano is aware of his amazing popularity in Armenia.
Maybe I could write him an email some day.
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