Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Pleasures of Travel

I have hunted maps of Venice, and I am fairly sure that it was Studium Libreria. The bookstore had suddenly emerged amid a row of shops in the shadow of San Marco. I had not expected a bookstore there, much less a bookstore that carried some titles in English. My only purchase at Studium Libreria, though, ended up a book in French.

It was startling for me, standing in those crowded midday aisles in 1996, to hold in my hands a book about Venice written in a French that I could understand. The author, Michel Mohrt, was a member of the Academie Francaise, and he had written a book about Italy. He was an Italophile. A French Italophile. I had not understood up to that moment that such a category of Venetian visitor could exist.

In the delight that comes from being able to read something that might hitherto have seemed inaccessible, I discovered something new about the pleasures of travel. Beyond memorable meals, beyond museums, beyond tours, each destination initiates you into a community of visitors whose minds and whose words deserve a Baedeker's all their own.

Exploration can take the form of memoir.

Investigation can occur in paragraph after fertile paragraph as well as in dogged footsteps.

I do not recall at what moment it occurred to me to search beyond English titles in my quest for verbal images of the Munich I would shortly find in my travels. A "Munich" search in brought me up against the French translation of a collection of short stories by an Italian author, Giorgio Pressburger.

I read an excerpt from the short story that gives the book its title:

Ne pensez pas à la célèbre horloge de l'hôtel de ville de Munich, ce mécanisme qui, toutes les heures, fait défiler de gracieuses silhouettes, dans un carrousel très fidèle à l'esprit de coquettes villes allemandes du XVIe siècle.

Enjoying what I read, I thought of what I wanted to try. It did not take me long to pull out my credit card and arrange fairly inexpensively for a copy of the Pressburger book to be waiting for me at my hotel when I arrive in Munich next Friday morning.

I get to indulge a new kind of adventure. Like a scene from some old black-and-white movie, a hotel desk clerk will inform me that there is a package waiting for me. I will thank the receptionist, take the package into the hotel bar, and begin to read the French translation of an Italian short story named after the Glockenspiel that I had first seen during a Munich visit in 1974.

Does travel get much more fun than that?

Photo of Michel Mohrt from Revista Literaria Azul Arte

Photo of Giorgio Pressburger by Danilo de Marco


開心唷 said...

thank you for you to make me learn more,thank you∩0∩

Ur-spo said...

I hadn't thought of travel in that way.

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