I’ve travelled to Italy several times with my parents as a child but until now, haven’t returned by myself. On the plane I couldn’t wait to see it all again: the old men sitting on the street, beautifully dressed ladies strolling around, laundry drying in front of the windows, gelato everywhere.
When I reached Milan I was confused: Where were the people who had been sitting on the streets? When did the ladies stop wearing nice dresses? All these pictures in my head – I couldn’t find them.
Then, on my third day I walked into a supermarket to buy some water. And there they were, right next to my water in the fridge: these tiny bottles of coke I’ve never seen outside of Italy.
I saw my mother standing in front of me in her bathing suite, handing me this very special treat I was only allowed to have on vacation. Colourful umbrellas on the beach right behind her, the feeling of sand stuck to my skin with layers on sunscreen.
The Italy that probably never existed the way I remembered it, a little part of it was still there, hidden in the fridge of a tiny supermarket in Milan.