Passero Solitario

‘Passero Solitario’  is one of the few poems I know off by heart, not by choice but I was forced to learn it as a punishment for chatting during class with my friend Riccardo when I was in middle school.

Translated literally ‘lonely bird’ it talks about a bird that does not follow the others but it chooses to do its own thing avoiding the crowds, being happy and having a beuatiful life, similar to the one of the author, one of Italy’s most famous poets Giacomo Leopardi.

D’in su la vetta della torre antica,

Passero solitario, alla campagna

Cantando vai finchè non more il giorno;

Ed erra l’armonia per questa valle.

Primavera dintorno

Brilla nell’aria, e per li campi esulta,

Sì ch’a mirarla intenerisce il core.

Odi greggi belar, muggire armenti;

Gli altri augelli contenti, a gara insieme

Per lo libero ciel fan mille giri,

Pur festeggiando il lor tempo migliore:

Tu pensoso in disparte il tutto miri;

Non compagni, non voli

Non ti cal d’allegria, schivi gli spassi;

Canti, e così trapassi

Dell’anno e di tua vita il più bel fiore.

Oimè, quanto somiglia

Al tuo costume il mio! Sollazzo e riso,

Della novella età dolce famiglia,

E te german di giovinezza, amore,

Sospiro acerbo de’ provetti giorni,

Non curo, io non so come; anzi da loro

Quasi fuggo lontano;

Quasi romito, e strano

Al mio loco natio,

Passo del viver mio la primavera.

Questo giorno ch’omai cede alla sera,

Festeggiar si costuma al nostro borgo.

Odi per lo sereno un suon di squilla,

Odi spesso un tonar di ferree canne,

Che rimbomba lontan di villa in villa.

Tutta vestita a festa

La gioventù del loco

Lascia le case, e per le vie si spande;

E mira ed è mirata, e in cor s’allegra.

Io solitario in questa

Rimota parte alla campagna uscendo,

Ogni diletto e gioco

Indugio in altro tempo: e intanto il guardo

Steso nell’aria aprica

Mi fere il Sol che tra lontani monti,

Dopo il giorno sereno,

Cadendo si dilegua, e par che dica

Che la beata gioventù vien meno.

Tu, solingo augellin, venuto a sera

Del viver che daranno a te le stelle,

Certo del tuo costume

Non ti dorrai; che di natura è frutto

Ogni vostra vaghezza.

A me, se di vecchiezza

La detestata soglia

Evitar non impetro,

Quando muti questi occhi all’altrui core,

E lor fia vóto il mondo, e il dì futuro

Del dì presente più noioso e tetro,

Che parrà di tal voglia?

Che di quest’anni miei? che di me stesso?

Ahi pentirornmi, e spesso,

Ma sconsolato, volgerommi indietro.

campanile


Ma sconsolato, volgerommi indietr

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‘Bastu!’ Sweden’s Sauna Culture

Sweden is a country full of surprises and the sauna culture is no exception.

 

First of all what you need  to know is that Swedish saunas have a strict no swimming costume rule and all you can bring is a towel and something to drink. The first time I went to a sauna was in 2013 when I lived in Sweden during an exchange. It was actually on a ferry crossing from Stockholm to Helsinki and that possibly made it worse as the Finns are known for being hard-core sauna lovers who like it extra hot and will pretend not to speak English if you try to ask them to tone it down.

Although my other exchange friends I was with were slightly confused at the idea that I wanted to pay to spend time in a small room full of naked men, my answer was that in Scandinavia it is a big part of their life so I had to try out this cultural experience. I managed to convince a friend and went. The experience was overall good, although I found it too hot and had to run out to have a cold shower every 5 minutes.

 

Three years later I finally returned to Sweden to visit a good friend in the southern most region called Skåne. He’s American but Swedish at heart so he came up with the idea of going for a sauna. At first I was a bit wary, but then I decided to go for it. It was a bit unexpected as we were at a house party playing drinking games and at one point the host shouts out ‘half an hour to sauna time’. So half an hour later the party moved to a small room in the basement with a wooden interior and a special heater on which you would pour hot water to make it steam. Once you surpass the Victorian style thinking process about nudity and British prudishness , you feel quite relaxed.

 

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On my last day  in Sweden, my friend took me to another sauna this time a public one by the sea and that evening entrance was mixed, for both men and women. This was by far the best sauna experience, partly due to the big windows overlooking Malmö and the sea and also for the fact that you could throw yourself into the cold sea water when feeling too hot as opposed to just showering. Funny thing is that nobody seemed to care that people were swimming naked in broad daylight off a pier.

 

This was the ‘real experience’ as you had a bunch of Swedes that did not know each other in the same room, relaxing. And if there is one thing Swedish people are famous for is being shy and awkward around strangers in normal day to day situations, but oddly enough this did not happen there. On the contrary they were chatting away in Swedish, so I did not understand a word, but my friends managed to hold a conversation as they are both fluent in the language. Apparently they talked about everything from cultural comparisons to society and so on, all this whilst completely naked. I was left startled. As you can see the British/Victorian sense of prudishness is something hard to overcome, but I’m working on it!