lunedì 31 dicembre 2012

A forgotten stamp

From Tbilisi we flew to Istambul (and then Italy). In Istambul we met an Italian woman who told us the horrible adventure that had happened to her in Iran. With some friends she had entered Iran via Turkey by train. At the border the Iranian police forgot to put a stamp on their passports. When they tried to leave Iran from Teheran, the airport police noticed that they did not have the stamp and prevented them from taking the flight. They were locked in a room and interrogated harshly for hours. After a few days, she was allowed to leave the country, while the men were still in Iran (that is why she was alone when we met her). Anyway, I did not read any bad news in the newspaper the following days, so I suppose that everything ended well.

Sick at the airport (for Alessandro)

To make our last day more exciting, Alessandro got sick some hours before our departure. When we reached the airport, he was very weak. We had to find a wheelchair to carry him around. Since he felt he was about to vomit, we took a waste bin and we put it between his legs (on the wheelchair). I have pictures to prove that! :)

giovedì 27 dicembre 2012

Armenia and Georgia

Armenia has an ordinary capital city named Yerevan and a nice countryside made up of hills, forests, lakes and... a lot of ancient monasteries! They are very beautiful, but also quite similar to each other (at least this was my thought after spending two days moving from one monastery to another one:).
In Georgia we only stayed in Tbilisi, the capital. Unexpectedly (to me), it is a really nice city: the old part lying on the cliff with its small streets and houses, the fortress ruins on the other side of the river, the churches. And a dynamic nightlife: we could even go to a disco (which seemed extraordinary after three weeks in Iran). The city was being completely renovated: there were construction sites everywhere. I guess thr economy is doing well, and the name of the road to the airport could suggest who is helping: George W. Bush road (I am not kidding)!

A cultural shock

Entering Armenia we suffered two shocks. The first one was cultural. We were used to the warm hospitality of Iranians and we suddenly had to deal with the abrupt manners of Armenian taxi drivers and hotelkeepers. A major difference.
The second one was due to the local prices. Everything seemed very expensive, but it is just Iran which is very very cheap.

martedì 25 dicembre 2012

We cross the border

It was late when we reached the Iranian border. We wished our driver goodbye, we changed our money and we started walking towards Armenia. Luckily, there was not much traffic, therefore we did not have to wait for a long time neither to exit Iran not to enter Armenia. However, we were the only ones passing the border on foot. This is my last image of Iran: the five of us (and our big bags) crossing the bridge over the river separating Iran and Armenia (the no man's land), almost in the dark, while the last rays of sunshine coloured the sourrounding mountains red.

sabato 22 dicembre 2012

...and a wonderful monastery

Beyond the umpteenth twist of the river, the monastery finally came into sight. A view that was awesome. Kalisa Darreh Sham is an ancient christian monastery dominating the valley among high arid mountains. It consists of a church and some other stone buildings where the monks used to live (not anymore). A water source provides drinking water and allows the cultivation of flowers and fruit trees in the gardens. I have rarely been in such a peaceful and relaxing place.
Just beware of wasps: there were a lot of them, and seemed to like visitors a lot.

giovedì 20 dicembre 2012

An amazing landscape

Apart from the excursion in Yazd, until then we had mainly visited big cities: I really wanted to experience some wild nature.And I could not be happier about what I saw.
We travelled in a lonely narrow vally along a river surrounded by rocky mountains. The beauty of the landscape was astonishing. On the other side of the river, for a long while, Azeirbaijan.

Deep north

From Tabriz we took a local bus to a small town close to the Armenian (and Azeirbaijan) border with Alessandro, Filippo and Lorenzo. The day was almost over, but we decided to visit an ancient monastery in the nearby, and then reach the border (we had read it was open all night). We found a car driver who accepted to carry us (all of us plus our big bags!), we bargain as much as we could, and we left.


Tabriz has the most beautiful bazar I saw during the trip. It is really huge and crowded, like a labyrinth city made of covered hallways and courtyards. You get lost as soon as you turn the first corner. Every product has its own sector: fruits and vegetables, jewels, carpets, etcetera. Be sure: there is all you need (the matter is if you find it).

lunedì 17 dicembre 2012

The earthquake

Another event influenced our decision: the earthquake that hit the northern part of Iran while we were deciding where to go after Isfahan. Due to the earthquake damages, it was not sensible anymore to go to some rural areas in the north suggested by the guide. So, in the end, we chose to go to the Armenian border directly, only stopping in Tabriz for one night.

We change the trip

After Ishahan we went back to the capital city, and we enjoyed the company of our local friends. Our first idea was to fly back to Italy from Teheran. Instead, we flew back from Tbilisi, Georgia. Why? Because we had met Alessandro, Filippo and Lorenzo, three nice young men from Milano, who had told us that they had shifted their flight because they wanted to visit Armenia and Georgia too. We liked the idea and we did the same.

venerdì 14 dicembre 2012


Isfahan is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen in my life. It you need a reason to go to Iran, Isfahan is a good one.
The charm of the city was a surprise, after the general ugliness of the other cities. An amazing central square surrounded by old buildings, many huge wonderful mosques and luxorious palaces (with internal exhibitions), stunning parks and a lot of green everywhere, some ancient romantic bridges over the river, a nice bazar. Truly, a beauty that makes you hold your breath.

giovedì 13 dicembre 2012

Internet and satellite television

Censorship of the web has been increasing a lot in the last years; yet, it is quite easy to avoid it. For example our friends living in Iran normally use Facebook, despite the access to it being prohibited. The choice between allowed websites and forbidden ones seemed random: I could open some Italian newspaper websites but some others not, I could open but not, and so on. After I came back, Iran announced the plan to replace the World Wide Web with an isolated domestic Internet network; this plan should be put in place in 2013.
Satellite television is prohibited too; yet, it is widely widespread, and our friends had it at home.

mercoledì 12 dicembre 2012

Couch surfing

If you go to the website, you will find many Iranian couch surfers in every city. I did not expect so. We wrote to some of them on some occasions, but we did it too late (usually the day before our arrival), so we never managed to be hosted. Anyway, we know from other travellers that it works very well, if you plan it in advance.
Only once we had a partial experience. It was in Isfahan. We arrived from Yazd very early in the morning and from the bus station we took a taxy to the house of a couch surfer who had accepted our request to be hosted. The guy was friendly (he liked Pasolini) and lived in a nice detached house. We entered, went down a stair and ended up in a huge room with no furniture except from some carpets on the floor. And a lot of people sleeping on them! We asked who they were. Other couch surfers I am hosting, he said: some French, some Turkish, some from Asia, etcetera. The cellar looked like an international gathering point for low budget travellers. We joined the others and slept a bit. Afterwards, we decided that the accomodation was too basic and went looking for a hotel for the night. :)

martedì 11 dicembre 2012

Zoroastrian temple

In Yazd we bought a one day excursion to some nearby sites. At last, we had the chance to see some wild nature, travelling across beautiful mountains and desert lands.
The Chak Chak site is the religious centre of Zoroastrianism. It only consists of a small temple, in the middle of nowhere. Built around a cave where there is a sacred water source (and the only trees in the area), the temple is hidden between steep and rocky hills. The building itself is nothing special, but the place is very mystical: I could feel its deep sense of religiousness (also because we were the only visitors at that moment). I drank the water, it was fresh and good.

lunedì 10 dicembre 2012

Meeting old friends, by chance

This is the most incredible thing of the trip: in Yazd I met two friends from my EVS work in Turkey, Paolo and Catarina. By chance!!! We had not spoken for months, so I had no idea where they were neither did they. Nevertheless, we bumped into each other in the middle of Iran! What an incredible and wonderful moment! Sure enough, I spent the next days with them wandering around Yazd.

venerdì 7 dicembre 2012

Rickshaw circus

In Yazd we met a travelling street circus too. Three people with a colourful rickshaw heading for India by land. They stopped all along the way to do shows and workshops for local children. Here is their Facebook page:

mercoledì 5 dicembre 2012

Let's go to Iran with grandpa!

One night at the hotel we saw a group of three people coming in. They looked like a family: the grandson (about 20 year old) with the grandparents, who looked about 70 or older (his grandfather moved very slowly, with the help of a stick). A scene you could easily imagine on the border of a Swiss lake, not in Iran.

A beautiful hotel

The hotel was in a traditional house. The rooms were situated in a courtyard which had a fountain in the middle. So relaxing! The manager was a funny and kind old Indian man, who ended up in Iran after a complicated "business & love" story.

lunedì 3 dicembre 2012

Doors for men and doors for women

In Yazd the doors of many old houses have two knockers making a different sound. Why? One was for men and one for women! So the ones inside could know the sex of the one at the door and decide accordingly who had to open (man or woman).

The wind towers

The wind towers are are a natural (and traditional) cooling system. A high tower catches the wind and distributes it to the rest of the building by means of a very sophisticated architectural and engineering design (inside the tower it is like being in a labyrinth). We visited the most preserved (and beautiful) wind tower in Yazd: it works really well!

Zoroastrian graves

Yazd is the centre of the Zoroastrian religion, the first monoteistic religion. On the edge of the city there are the Zoroastian graves (also known as "the towers of silence"): some bare hills on the top of which there were the temples used by Zoroatrians to put dead people, so that bodies could be eaten by vultures. Nowadays this method is not used anymore and only ruins remain. However it is a fascinating place.


From Shiraz we took an overnight bus to Yazd. Yazd has a very characteristic city centre. Why? Because it is mostly made of mud! The houses are very low and the streets are very narrow. Some ancient palaces and mosques make a lovely contrast with the rest of the buildings.

mercoledì 28 novembre 2012

Tired of kebabs

My experience of Iran has a negative point too: (street) food! Yes, it is true that we ate deliciously at home. But many times, while travelling alone, we went to restaurants where food was no big deal. The choice was poor, except for the usual two or three types of kebab meats. Or maybe kebab is just what we could get due to our language difficulties.
We were also told that Iranians do not eat in restaurants often. They still cook at home a lot. This could explain why the quality of the restaurants is not excellent.


Life is awful for locals, if they do not comply with the rules of the dictatorship. But, as a tourist, I never felt threatened or in danger. I felt safe even walking in empty neighborhoods at night. Moreover, we never saw a lot of policemen or soldiers in the streets (which does not mean that they are not there; also, we did not reach the border areas with Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan). I expected the situation to be more (visibly) tense.

martedì 27 novembre 2012

Classic tour

Of course, the previous post applies as long as you follow the classic tour, which usually includes Teheran, Shiraz, Yazd, Isfahan and a few more places.

Easy trip

A big surprise: the life of a tourist in Iran is easy. Prices are cheap, people are friendly and often speak a bit of English, the culture is similar to ours (apart from the current regime), trasportation is good, hotels are numerous, exchange with other tourists is continuous.

lunedì 26 novembre 2012

Lonely Planet rules

One guide for one country: Lonely Planet has monopoly on Iran; there is hardly any other guide published, which means that you are likely to sleep in the same hotels and eat in the same restaurants as the other tourists do. In countries such as Iran, Lonely Planet has a tremendous power: being among the recommended choices can make the fortune of a hotel or a restaurant.

New international friends

One particular thing about being a tourist in Iran is that it is very easy to become friends with the other travellers! It happened many times to meet the same people in different cities, both intentionally or by chance: the ideal occasion to exchange information about what to do and where to go and maybe enjoy a stretch of the trip together. This happens because tours you can follow in Iran are limited, for practical (difficulty to reach the farthest corners) and security reasons. But there is also another point... the Lonely Planet guide!

Mad travellers

Most tourists planned to go back to their home countries after visiting Iran, as we did. But we met some "mad" travellers too. The ones making a low budget tour of the world, reaching Australia or China through Afghanistan and Pakistan. These are real trips!

Typologies of travellers

We never met organized tours. Instead we met several independent tourists like us. European ones: Italians (a lot!), French, Spanish, Germans. Plus a Colombian one and one from New Zealand. As many women as men. Mostly young, but not only.

venerdì 23 novembre 2012

Naqsh-e Rostam

Some kilometers from Persepolis, Naqsh-e Rostam is another archeological site whose main attractions are some huge graves dug in the middle of a rock face (there is no way to reach them). They were built to host ancient kings. Several war scene (depicting Roman warriors too!) and life court carvings add beauty to the site.


Not far away from Shiraz, Persepolis lies on a small hill in the desert. Persepolis is one of the old capitals of Iran (but it seems to me that every Iranian city was capital of some kingdoms at some time). Persepolis was abandoned many centuries ago and then forgotten. Only recently archeologists have started to excavate.
The ruins are really imposing and spectacular. Huge columns and marvelous friezes depicting old populations, the kings and their court and mythological animals constellate all the site. Also, due to the lonely beauty of the surrounding landscape, Persepolis is one of the most fascinating places I saw in Iran. It is like going back to a different time in history.
A little piece of advice: do not visit the ruins in summer while the sun is high (as I did). You risk melting.

giovedì 22 novembre 2012

The grave of Hafez

Hafez (1300) is the national Iranian poet. He was from Shiraz. His mausoleum is visited by thousands of people every day.


From Kisch we took a plane to Shiraz. Shiraz is one of the main cities in Iran. In general it is not very beautiful, but has some nice mosques. A characteristic feature of mosques is that they usually have internal courtyards where it is possible to rest for a while. Shiraz is also well known for its secluded and pleasant gardens: I can witness that they are the ideal place to lie under the shade and forget the chaos of the outside world. :)

mercoledì 21 novembre 2012

We are not terrorists

One day in Kisch we were invited to attend the evening prayer at the mosque (of course spaces for males and females were separated). After the prayer, since it was Ramazan period, we stayed there with the locals to eat the first meal (bread, green salad, cheese, olives, cucumber and dates) of the day. I was sitting next to a student of the local technical university. We started talking; after a bit he said to me "I am happy that you understand that we are not terrorists".Yes, I do understand, even though some of our leaders in the West want us to think so.

Cheerful veils

A veil for women is compulsory in Iran. I expected to see a lot of black burqas, the ones that convey sadness. Instead, most women, above all in Teheran, wear colourful and cheerful veils which keep some centimeters of hair free.
At home women do not usually wear the veil. Only some of the older people we met in private houses wore it in our presence, because we were strangers.


In Kisch we saw some women wearing a strange colourful mask covering their nose (in addition to the compulsory veil). The mask is a tradition from the Bandari culture. Bandari is the name of a population living in the south of Iran. The effect of the mask is both fascinating and (a bit) scary. Here is a picture (taken from the web, of course:):

lunedì 19 novembre 2012

Why Kisch?

When I tell Iranian people that I was in Kisch they are surprised, because the island is not a common tourist place for Western independent travellers. The reason we went is that the brother of Farahmand and his family live there. We stayed with them for a few days: they were extremely kind to us and they showed us around the island. Moreover, the wife cooked deliciously! :)

Let's go to the beach!

In Kisch the beaches work in a funny way. There are only two small authorized bathing beaches on the whole island: one for men and one for women! Separated by some kilometers of coast, just to be sure nothing happens. Apart from some kids or young men at night, you do not see people swimming along the rest of the coast, even though sandy beaches and clean waters are everywhere.

domenica 18 novembre 2012

I love air conditioning

Because of the temperature, air conditioning is vital to survive. The day we went shopping, we were the only ones walking instead of using a car. And it was not a sensible thing to do.

Swimming? Maybe not

There is not much to see on the island. Anyway, the sea and the beaches are beautiful. The only problem is that swimming is not a popular activity, which could seem absurd. But it clearly became absurd to me when I became aware of the summer average temperature in Kisch: more than 40 degrees, night and day; with a humidity rate of 100%. As soon as I stepped out of the airport, I started dreaming of running and plunging into the sea. But I still did not know how things worked!

Iran? No, Kisch island

After Teheran we went to the Kisch island by plane. Kisch island is a tiny flat island in the Persian gulf, which is quite special. On one hand because it is a free trade area; on the other because authoritarian control over Iranian citizens' social behaviours is less strict than anywhere else.
The island provides rich tourists and businessmen with modern and luxurious facilities. Hotels, restaurants, banks and financial services, shopping malls. You can do water sports and ride horses and camels along the beach. Easy joke: Kisch island is quite kitch.

venerdì 16 novembre 2012

What do you think of Iran?

Unknown people in the streets are very friendly as well. All along the trip it happened to meet a lot of people who approached us to ask where we came from and what we were doing in Iran. They seemed very proud of their country and its history and beauties. At the same time, they were very happy to meet foreigners and wanted to know our opinions about Iran. Above all, they wanted to show us that Iran is different from what western media say. In a nutshell, that they are not terrorists.

giovedì 15 novembre 2012

Sim card

The first day in Teheran we entered into a (random) shop to ask where we could buy an Iranian sim card. The owner offered us a tea, then sent someone to buy the sim and finally he charged (a lot of) credit in the sim. After an hour of pleasant chatting, waiting for the registration procedures to end, we were done. How much did we pay? Nothing. Everything was a gift. This is Iran.

I have never been in a country where...

I have never been in a country where locals are so kind and welcoming to (Italian) foreigners. And this is a very good reason to start planning a trip to Iran.

martedì 13 novembre 2012

Phone calls

Here is an example of what I meant in the previous post. One of your friends in Teheran is a journalist. Every time he receives a call from an unknown number he fears that it is the secret service telling him that he did or said something wrong.

lunedì 12 novembre 2012


There is one thing that surprised me a lot. How everyday life seems normal under such a ferocious regime. Let me explain. The friends we met in Iran have a job and spend time with family and friends. Nothing different from my routine (even though most of the people of my age I met were already married and some had children).
At the same time they constantly live on the edge of danger. Being, in a more or less evident way, opponents to the regime, their lives risk being spoiled at any moment. Maybe because they wrote something wrong, for those who are journalists, or maybe because they simply participated in a demonstration.
It is something you do not realize as a tourist. You have to speak to the (good) people.


I spent about 450 euros in 3 weeks. It is true that accomodation sometimes was free (when we were hosted or when we travelled at night). Anyway, it is incredible how prices are cheap, compared to our standards. Hotels, food, road and air transport, everything. The most expensive purchase? The internal flights, and they costed no more than few dozens of euros.
At the time the exchange rate was approximately 1 euro = 25000 local currency. Which means that my wallet was always too small to contain all the banknotes I was given, no matter how little money I changed.
The exchange rate has continued to worsen (for Iranians) since I came back. Inflation is very high, and the price of most basic goods (such as bread and chicken) has increased a lot. The economic crisis is harshly affecting a large part of the population, and that is the reason of the protest demonstrations that took place in Iran in october. Even our middle class friends in Teheran, who have decent jobs and houses, felt that inflation was making them noticeably poorer.

giovedì 8 novembre 2012


Rice is very important in the Iranian cuisine too. We were usually served two types of rice, together: the white one and the yellow one (the second one in minor quantity). The yellow rice is flavoured with saffron, and it is more expensive than the other. Although I do not recall a big difference in taste between them.

mercoledì 7 novembre 2012

Bread... with stones!

Iranians eat a lot of bread. Once in Teheran Sadegh and Pari took us to a traditional bakery. Which had a very special feature (at least to me): they cooked bread in a oven over a bed of small stones!

martedì 6 novembre 2012

The best kebab of the trip

Kebab is the national dish: it is everywhere, and in some situations prevented me from starving.
I ate the best one in Teheran, in a restaurant where both Forough and Sadraa and Sadegh and Pari took us. So I ate it twice!
The fact that the place was popular was clear from the long line at the entrance. Inside, the furniture was simple and cheap, with tables very close to each other in order to occupy all the two floor spaces. The general atmosphere was friendly and messy. What about cleanliness? Let's skip the subject. :)
The best part was the food and the price.
Concerning the food, the kebabs were prepared and cooked in front of the clients. The meat was delicious, as was the bread and all the vegetables and dressings served with the kebab. I mean tomatoes, onions, peppers, green salad with aromatic herbs, rice and yoghurt!
And what about the price? As gratifying as the food. I miss that!

lunedì 5 novembre 2012

Unfinished mosque

Next to Forough and Sadraa's house thare is a huge (very huge) construction site: they are building the new Imam Khomeini mosque. We were told that the works have been going on for many years, and the project is costing much more money than expected. Our friends commented that this money could be used for more socially useful activities . I tried to reassure them by saying that I could make a list of foolish public works projects that are being carried out in Italy right now.

Chicken with plums

Farahmand's mother cooked the best chicken with plums ever. I had rarely eaten such a perfect combination of tastes.

venerdì 2 novembre 2012

Dinner at the parents' house

One night in Teheran we were invited by Farahmand's parents to their place, together with Forough and Sadraa. Of course, the food was really delicious. The mother had prepared yummy dishes: soups, salads, meat with vegetables, rice (white and yellow), and much more!
Apart from the food, it probably was the most moving moment of the trip. We brought Farahmand's greetings to his parents and his sister, whom he was not being allowed to see for many years, and we told them about their son's and brother's life in Torino. At one point everyone was crying.
The regime can persecute people fighting for freedom, torturing them in prison or sending them away. But they can not prevent freedom ideas from spreading, and people from talking (and becoming aware). And that dinner was a proof of that. Thanks to the dramatic and courageous choice of Farahmand.

Fruit in the bazar

The small bazar we went to in Teheran was a very fascinating experience. Why? Because we were with Forough and Sadraa who made me taste the food on the stalls that I could not recognize! Fruit in particular, which I loved. Als also because the place was small and crowded, and being there was like breathing real local life.

martedì 30 ottobre 2012

Eating positions

In my experience, Iranians enjoy eating on the floor. Or, better said, on the carpets which are on the floor. Which means you end up having your feet at the same level of the dish! It often happened when we were in our friends' houses and also in traditional restaurants. To tell the truth, I find it more comfortable to eat with the help of a chair and a table, without the need to change position every five minutes because your back or legs hurt. In this regard, I strongly believe that the European way is superior (as a knife and fork are clearly superior to chopsticks). :)

Masquerade party

In Iran thare are no places open to the public where to go out at night to drink. Therefore, people meet in private houses to have parties very often, where alchool is not difficult to find (at least this is what I was told).
One night in Teheran Forough and Sadraa invited us to a birthday party at some friends' house. It was quite a big party, with a lot of guests and a lot of food (but no alcohol, because the householder was a strict muslim in this regard).
After the meal, a cake was brought to the room. And then a strange thing happened: one of the guests  started dancing with the big knife to cut the cake in his hands. And the rest of of the guests, one by one for few minutes each, followed! Only when they stopped, we could eat.
The party was a masquearade party, and at one point we had to decide the best costume. I found most of the costumes very funny (and incomprehensible), but I gave my vote to one in particular: a basiji costume. Basiji is the name of the paramilitary militia directly controlled by Khamenei. The Basiji militia leads the repression against regime opponents and often attacks participants in the protest demonstrations.
All the guests had a terrible opinion of the regime and some of them (or some of their relatives and friends) had personally suffered the consequences of their political activism. Anyway, they were able to make fun of one of the most frightful institutions. It is probably something you learn to do, when you live in a situation of constant fear. It is a way to show yourself (and the others) that they have not defeated you yet.

lunedì 29 ottobre 2012

A breathe of fresh air

The theatre (see previous post) is part of a cultural centre. There is also a public park, a museum of contemporary art and (in the museum) a shop. We arrived early in the night and we had time to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of the place, waiting for the play to start while sitting on the benches, giving a look at the pieces of art and buying a pair of earings or a decorated cup with the other members of the audience. Many of them wore fashionable and colourful clothes; some of them looked like artists, other seemed to belong to the wealthier class with their refined appearance.
The general atmosphere of the place was quite European, and I loved it so much. I felt I could breathe freely, and the regime oppression seemed farther away. And I was very happy to find out that in Teheran there is an an active independent cultural scenario.

A persian play

One night in Teheran we went to a theatre play called "Walk on wet pavement". Sadegh and Pari had received an invitation by a member of the company and we joined them. The play was in persian: which means that I could not understand the plot very well, even though the actors were very skilful (and well known). However, the final scene was easy to get: (almost) everyone died. Including the good hearted characters.
Implicitly the play was a strong criticism of the values of the Iranian society (as strong as a critic can be in such a regime). Almost a challenge to the two portraits of Khomeini and Khamenei hanging on the two sides of the stage.
After the show we waited for the actors to come out and we greeted them. They seemed happy to have an international audience. :)

venerdì 26 ottobre 2012

We love cinema, but...

Today's post is about cinema. Yes, in Teheran there is a (small) cinema museum. Iran has a strong tradition in this art, which still continues today. The museum is small but interesting. It tells the history of cinema in Iran, presenting the most important directors and actors and celebrating the international awards that they got. There is only one absurd thing. Many of those directors and actors are nowadays exiled because of their political views. But this is Iran: a place full of contradictions.

giovedì 25 ottobre 2012

For Farahmand, Forough, Sadraa, Sadegh and Pari

This post is for Farahmand, Forough, Sadraa, Sadegh and Pari. Before leaving for Iran we had talked to our Iranian friends in Italy, in order to get information and, hopefully, some useful contacts in the cities we thought to visit. That is why, when we stayed in Teheran for the first time, at the beginning of the trip, we were hosted by Forough and Sadraa, a young couple of friends of Farahmand, an Iranian living in Torino. Even though they did not know us at all, Forough and Sadraa welcomed us in their houses: not only did we find a confortable (and free:) place where to sleep, but also they cooked delicious Iranian dishes for us and they showed us around to see the museums and the nice places; at night, we went out together and we met their friends. The same thing happened at the end of the trip, when we went back to Teheran. That time we were hosted by Sadegh and Pari, another couple of friends of Forough and Sadraa. I was part of the family.

martedì 23 ottobre 2012

The main reason

There is one main reason to go to Iran, beyond all the rest. Because the experience you live there forces you to abandon all the prejudices you could have about the country and its people. And that is a beautiful lesson.

lunedì 22 ottobre 2012

The Shah palace

The palace where the Shah used to live, in the northern part of the city, is surrounded by a big relaxing park. Nowadays it is a museum and is furnished as to reproduce how it was with the Shah. All rooms are very well dispayed and, of course, objects in them are luxurious and beautiful.
To my European eyes the museum seemed quite a celebration of the happy Shah times, especially compared to the hard times Iranians are living these days. But why should the current regime show the richness and refinement of the so detested Shah family? That is the question I asked to the local friends who were accompanying us.
The answer is that the museum has a very different idelogical purpose. The Islamic regime wants to show Iranians how rich the Shah family was compared to normal people. The museum is to blame luxury, not to celebrate it, and to mark a (supposed) difference with the current regime.


If I had to describe Teheran by three adjectives, I would say that it is huge (8 millions), modern (ugly) and green (tree-lined streets). What is the plus of Teheran? Its people!
Northern part is richer, more similar to European cities, with big villas and gardens. Southern is poorer and more messy. There are a few small museums, most of them not very interesting: cultural offer (I mean official, institutional one) is not of much value. Still, there are things to see.

domenica 21 ottobre 2012


Here I am again. Why? Because I think I have something worth telling. Now Iran is the subject! :)
More than three years have passed since the last time I wrote the blog. Three years during which I have been working in Torino. Not a very exiciting life, one could say: but I love Torino and I like my job.
Anyway, I still love adventurous trips and faraway places (and what proceeds from it: meeting people, eating food, etc.). That's why, when a friend proposed me to visit Iran last summer (2012), I immediately accepted. We left end of july and we came back end of august.
The following part of the blog tells my experience there (before I forget everything!), about the places I visited, the people I met, the Iranian way of life, the Iranian politics, etc.: all that cought my attention, posted in a casual order. Of course, it is just my personal impressions, so maybe sometimes I am mistaken. Also for this reason, comments are welcome!
Before starting this post I read the previous parts ( I still like them, even though they refer to different times and situations (and a different me, I guess). If you like, take a look at them.
It seems that I used to close my first and last posts of each section with the same words. For sure, that is an unchanged thing, and I will not stop the habit. Then...

in ogni caso, forza toro!

Let's get it started.

sabato 20 ottobre 2012

Si ricomincia

Dopo tra anni, il blog si risveglia. Occasione: un viaggio estivo in Iran, per sfuggire (temporaneamente) alla precaria e piacevole vita italiana. Iran: un Paese abitato da persone accoglienti come mai ne ho trovate e soffocato da un regime terribile. Insomma un territorio pieno di contraddizioni, affascinantissimo e insieme così lontano e vicino all'Europa. Agli amici e agli sconosciuti incontrati laggiù è dedicata questa parte del blog. Con l'augurio che le scelte ideologiche della comunità internazionale non soffochino la speranza di chi in Iran lotta per il cambiamento.