The last route through the Mediterranean by Javier Reverte

The last route through the Mediterranean by Javier Reverte

From Alexandria to Barcelona, the writer Javier Reverte selected to TRAVEL his ten favorite places in the Mediterranean. Some are very touristy today, such as Venice or Cairo, others more literary – Troy, Ithaca…- and others less known, but also legendary, such as the Italian Duino. Today, in honor of his memory, we go through them again.


Everyone visits Cairo, with its mosques and pyramids, and few visit Alexandria. Although the city is neither lavish nor home to ancient ruins, the corniche, as the promenade is known, is of overwhelming natural beauty. The house that was Cavafis is today a delicate museum preserved in his honor.


Almost all the great writers, from the Middle Ages to the present day, have passed through here and written at least a few lines about this unique city. Together with their channels, they wrote and seduced hundreds of Casanova and Lord Byron women. And its maze of streets served as the setting for Thomas Mann’s great novel, Death in Venice.


The city recalls a Spanish past that lasted centuries and that still persists in the names of some streets and in the thousands of pots of geraniums that adorn its balconies. It is a city almost in ruins, dusty and full of cats, where, however, a strange beauty is hidden. This is where Albert Camus placed his book The Plague.


About a twenty-minute drive from Trieste, the elegant northern Italian city that was Joyce’s home for years, Duino Castle is a solid construction where the Czech poet Rainer Maria Rilke stayed for a while and where he began to compose one of the essential poetry collections of the 20th century: Las Elegías del Duino.


If you are a writer and a traveler, you must go to Ithaca at least once in your life. It is not a tourist place, it lacks monuments and good beaches; but life on the island looks a lot like it might have been four thousand years agowhen the great Ulysses reigned there, whose heart must be buried somewhere in its soil.


The capital of the Islamic universe, the city of Arab cities, “the victorious”as the Mohammedans nickname it, it is as enigmatic as a mystery novel and its great writer is the Nobel Prize winner Naguid Mahfuz. Walking through the city, someone said, is like removing veils from the body of a beautiful dancer.


Forty years ago, when I first visited the ruins discovered in 1870 by the archaeologist Schielemann, there were barely three or four tourists among the rubble of the successive cities born, destroyed and rebuilt on the spot over the centuries. Today, a large wooden horse has even been placed at the door, which is more kitsch than a seal in the Sahara.


The great capital of ancient culture is still very affected by the crisis unleashed in 2008 and is impoverished and decrepit. But a cultured person cannot say goodbye to life without visiting its Acropolis, admiring the Parthenon and looking at the Archaeological Museum. Philosophy, tragedy, comedy, history were born and grew up here…


The most literary of Spanish cities. Writers of the stature of the novelist Juan Marsé and the poet José Agustín Goytisolo were born here and it was the city that welcomed the main authors of the so-called Latin American boom, including two Nobel Prize winners: Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Mario Vargas Llosa.


The largest island in the Mediterranean is also two of the quintessential literary territories of this sea. Ulysses and Aeneas passed through its coastsAeschylus was represented in its ancient theaters and Pirandello, Quasiodo, Sciascia, Camilleri and the great Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, the author of El Gatopardo, were born here.


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