My surname in Greek means “golden leaf”. I can vividly remember my dad telling about our far (far, far, far) Greek roots. The part of Sicily where my dad was born and raised was once known as Magna Grecia. As a witness of this, today we still have stunning examples of architecture, some traces of the Greek language in our dialects and names of places. In the below map, you can refer to the area stretching between Taormina and Catania as where part of my roots are supposed to come from.
The ancient wisdom is, alas, still to be found – but I do look like a Greek (as said by Greek themselves)!
I do am very proud of my roots and I started to realize I belonged to Greece when I actually traveled there the first time, in 2006. 40 degrees beyond the airplane doors and I was still in my gothic phase (heavy black leather boots matching purple and white long hair – I wasn’t really a flip flop person back then). Also, I entertained myself with generous doses of alcohol during the journey so the weather shock was huge. I was coming from Sicily but this was too damn hot for being almost October!
When the doors of the airplane opened, I needed a minute to come back into myself. Down the stairs I felt a slap hitting me. It wasn’t the heatwave or the alcohol running for my veins. It was just the Greek air kidnapping me for an unlimited amount of time – that now I know is forever.
‘This is how Greek books then’ I said to myself. My flashy violet top was burning, all at once I wondered why I do wear heavy boots in the middle of the summer and my nose was filled very quickly with flavors I knew I was familiar with – lemon scents, rosemary, Mediterranean herbs and warmth mixed with the airport pollution and plastic – but this mix there, it was something different.
Then, in a second, all that I knew of Greece came back to me. Socrates and all the philosophers I had admired during High school. Restless nights before my exams (back then I was still a college Philosophy & Ethics student) they were all there to welcome me, in the place where the love for wisdom had born. Where democracy was a word with a weight. The first place who entered in contact with the Asian philosophy and absorbed part of it within.
I will never get tired of the Greek air and every time I know I am approaching the Greek horizons my heart sings the happiest songs – I feel I am coming back home. It’s not a wish, it’s not illusion. It’s a deep physical and humid bond growing from inside. The humid is the most remote slice of earth which I can touch in every Greek soul, by losing myself inside their dark, big eyes.
When I land in Sicily, I feel at home because I know I have my family there: if they wouldn’t be there, I probably wouldn’t go so often.
But every time I just even think about Greece, I feel in my heart that I am talking about the place I belong to and that I miss more than my birthland.
Normally, there is a logic behind the statements we give birth to. Similar to the scientific process, you have a cause, a reason and an effect so you can tie your conclusions. For me, it works like that most of the times. Probably I am not very rational in my actions – not all the time. I have a very passionate side which rules a lot too – thanks to the gods, otherwise, I would be such a boring person!
Greece, the Greeks and being “Hellenic” overcome the scientific and rationale borders. There is not a particular reason behind my unconditional love, devotion and care that I give to this land and here stays the truth. It’s not for the food, it’s not for the weather, it’s not for the wonderful beaches or the smiley folks. It’s just because it’s Greek!