Traveling solo had been one of my yearnings. I don't know what about the idea of getting lost by myself in a foreign land was appealing to me. It just was. I craved it like one would an ice-cream sundae on a hot summer day.
Way before my travel adventures began, I knew exactly where I wanted them start. Italy.
Rome in particular.
You ask "why?" and I answer "history, architecture and FOOD"
If you got far enough into my 'about me' page, you know by now about my Ethiopian roots. If you've retained much from history class, you would know about the two countries crossing paths in the past.
I grew up learning about Italy's attempt to colonize Ethiopia, twice. First was in 1895 when the Italian army, attacking from what was then Italian Eritrea, was defeated by an army of united Ethiopians under the rule of Emperor Menelik II. The second one happened in 1935. Italy, under the rule of Benito Mussolini, invaded Ethiopia in violation of laws in place by the League of Nations. Ethiopia was then under Italy's rule, though a turbulent one, for 5 years. The constant resistance then paid off, sending the Italians packing in 1941, making Ethiopia one of only two African countries that were never fully under colonial siege. Liberia being another one.
One can imagine the Italian influence in Ethiopia as a result of that period of Italian rule. From adopted words to dishes to names of places, one can definitely feel the brief presence of Benito's Italy.
My interest in the ancient Roman Empire was also one of the reasons I decided to embark on three train rides; from London through Paris, Milan then finally arriving in Rome. An 18 hour journey getting to know my brand new camera and enjoying the scenery, daylight permitting. My first destination after checking into my hotel room, Piazza Venezia, which is the heart and focal point of Rome.
There's was so much to take in. For a cold night in January, this place had warmth to it. Took a few hours to stroll around and capture photos of historical attractions nearby.
Altare della Partria;
Santa Maria di Loreto ;
Before catching the metro train back to the hotel, I decided to grab dinner right at the piazza. Found a restaurant overlooking the Palazo Venezia, a historic building now serving as a museum. This was where Benito Mussolini delivered his infamous speech on Oct 2nd of 1935 before launching an attack against Ethiopia.
Nibbling on my appetizer and waiting for my dinner to arrive, I pulled up read the whole speech on my phone, watched a footage of it, occasionally looking up at the 1st floor terrace where he stood while he announced his decision to invade Ethiopia and expand Fascism, as the crowd cheered him on.
"We have been patient with Ethiopia for forty years, It is enough now" Benito claimed, and went on to shame Britain for offering to support the Sovereign African nation and France for it's support of sanctions the League of Nations was threatening against Italy. They would not do it, He said, not for the sake of "a barbarian country". The crowed roaring in agreement.
With a glass of Barbaresco Red in my hand,I thought, "Go to hell Mussolini, but you probably are already there, if hell does exist".
The longer I kept reading about what followed the invasion, the more I looked back in history to take a glance at the ability of egomaniac leaders to rally thousands on the side of hate and war. Just simply by telling people that they are better than others and therefore deserving of conquering, taking from others or denying other humans the very same things they desire for themselves. It's unfortunate to notice that we still have to be vigilant of such hate today.
Above all, I felt immense amount of pride as I sat there imagining the distant past. Proud of my forefathers for their relentless fight against Fascism and Colonialism with nothing but the most basic of weaponry and sheer determination to preserve their country intact. Showing Benito what barbaric really meant.
Because of their bravery, there I was, sitting confidently in a place where once upon a time, my birth country's ill fate was sealed, so it seemed.
Here's to poetic moments such as this one.