Best quotes from A Year in the World: Journeys of A Passionate Traveller

By Frances Mayes

25 Quotes    3.6 


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The world cracks open for those willing to take a risk.

There is so much jasmine and nightshade in the garden that we all wake with lyrical headaches.

Behind sunglasses we linger over espresso, talking about pizza as an art form, the geekiness of people's travel clothes...

[As Chevalley says,] 'Sicilians never want to improve for the simple reason that they think themselves perfect...

...outrageous flowers swagging off balconies like bright skirts of ballgowns...

If I lived here,...I have a feeling this place would take me.

Oh, come on, he was twenty-six. And he had poetry on his lips.

[As Garibaldi says,] 'Sleep, my dear Chevalley, sleep, that is what Sicilians want, and they will always hate anyone who tries to wake them...

Martin Buber said, 'All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveller is unaware.

We are walking on the foundations of literature, up the steep, stony path in the fiery heat.

All afternoon in the deck chair, I try to describe to my notebook the colors of the water and sky. How to translate sunlight into words?

Vicki shines with intelligence as brightly as with beauty, a clear open face, black eyes, and a smile that makes you see what she looked like as a nine-year-old.

As travel pushes me forward, memory keeps dragging me backward.

Italy's siren call lures us more and more.

The words 'forse che si,' 'forse che no', 'perhaps yes,' 'perhaps no,' repeat along all paths.

Always, I liked the infinitive 'to go.' Let's go, let's go. let's really go. 'Andare' was the first verb I learned to conjugate in Italian. 'Andiamo,' let's go, teh sound comes out at a gallop.

One of those flash epiphanies of travel, the realization that worlds you'd love vibrantly exist outside your ignorance of them. The vitality of many lives you know nothing about. The breeze lifting a blue curtain in a doorway billows just the same whether you are lucky enough to observe it or not. Travel gives such jolts. I could live in this town, so how is it that I've never been here before today?

He said he couldn't understand a world 'shameless and cruel enough to divide its people by color when color is in fact the sign of God's artistic genius.

But the essence of a place, the part of it that picks you up and puts you down somewhere else, cannot be given to the reader through factual description. And maybe not at all. You have to find your own secret images. The slow fall of a coin into the gorge with the sun catching the copper only for a moment, and the fall into nothing says more about a sense of place than three pages of restaurant and hotel descriptions...

Everything I pick up seems to lure me away. Everything I do in my daily life begins to feel like striking wet matches. The need to travel is a mysterious force. A desire to 'go' runs through me equally with an intense desire to 'stay' at home. An equal and opposite thermodynamic principle. When I travel, I think of home and what it means. At home I'm dreaming of catching trains at night in the gray light of Old Europe, or pushing open shutters to see Florence awaken. The balance just slightly tips in the direction of the airport.

Travel releases spontaneity. You become a godlike creature full or choice, free to visit the stately pleasure domes, make love in the morning, sketch a bell tower, read a history of Byzantium, stare for one hour at the face of Leonardo da Vinci's 'Madonna dei fusi.' You open, as in childhood, and--for a time--receive this world. There's visceral aspect, too--the huntress who is free. Free to go, free to return home bringing memories to lay on the hearth.

When you travel you become invisible if you want. I do want. I like to be the observer. What makes these people who they are Could I feel at home here No one expects you to have the stack of papers back by Tuesday or to check messages or to fertilize the geraniums or to sit full of dread in the waiting room at the protologist’s office. When travelling you have the delectable possibility of not understanding a word of what is said to you. Language becomes simply a musical background for watching bicycles zoom along a canal calling for nothing from you. Even better if you speak the language you catch nuances and make more contact with people.

Travel releases spontaneity. You become a godlike creature full of choice free to visit the stately pleasure domes make love in the morning sketch a bell tower read a history of Byzantium stare for one hour at the face of Leonardo da Vinci’s Madonna dei fusi. You open as in childhood and – for a time – receive this world. There’s the visceral aspect too – the huntress who is free. Free to go Free to return home bringing memories to lay on the hearth.

There are reasons we congregate in these hot spots- to worship beauty and to feel its effects light up the electrolytes in the bloodstream.

And my mother, whose radius of travel was short, tied the letters with ribbon and kept them in her desk, When you get the chance, she said to me, "go.

Naguib Mahfouz’s Palace Walk, set in Cairo, a


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