Is the journey what matters?

George Orwell used to say that if a phrase is repeated enough it loses all meaning. “The journey is what matters” can be considered one such phrase.

When I tried to go to Pisa from Livorno with my friend Stephanie a couple of years ago, the journey was, indeed, the ONLY thing that counted, or ever happened, for that matter…

Livorno on a Sunday is probably the dullest place you can encounter in the whole of the beautiful Italian peninsula. It was sunny and hot on that asphalt. There was nothing interesting to do. All the shops were closed. The scenery was a that of a  ghost industrial town. In short,  it was find a way to get to Pisa or die.

If in Livorno, never hitchhike on this bridge; it´s jinxed...

We only had a few hours there, so we thought that taking a bus to a train station and then waiting for a train to go to Pisa wasn´t gonna be the ticket. So, drunk on diet coke and heat stroke, we started hitchhiking on that deserted bridge. We thought we were trying to go in the right direction…

Half an hour passed, then it was an hour. Two olf guys in ONE motorcycle offered to give as a lift. The problem remained: where the heck were WE gonna ride?

We realized that Sunday was a family day, and all we saw were cars filled with large families passing by, with mammas looking us over with a reprimanding eye. No, it was not a common thing to hitchhike in Livorno.

We never did get to Pisa that day. Some young guys promised to come back in 10 minutes for us, but that never happened…

It is rare that you have an experience where the getting there is so much fun that, even if you never actually do it, you feel you have experienced something extraordinary.

Perhaps it was Stephanie´s contagious laughter, or my drunken-like camera movements as I recorded our conversations with Pisa-ride candidates. I honestly can´t put my finger on it, but that was one of the days I had the most fun in Italy ever; and I have had some pretty awesome days across that boot-resembling geography.

When you have nothing to lose, you can do extraordinary things. On getting back to our tour bus after our failed Pisa visit, I just had nothing at all to lose, so I asked the bus driver whether he knew of someone who could take us to Pisa next week. There was an older guy standing next to the bus driver at the Livorno square. On overhearing our conversation, he blurted out “Ce ne porto Io!!!” (I will take you). Renato, that was his name, only spoke Italian, so it was fortunate that I did too. He gave me his cell number, and it was settled. We would see Pisa after all…

Lunch on Renato at a gorgeous little fishing club near Pisa (I still remember that piece of heaven cheesecake)

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