It was already the second time that the guardian of the Bab Al-Rahmah Muslim Cemetery had kicked me off. He didn’t understand any English, let alone the reason why I was ‘suspiciously’ wandering around its leaning tombstones. The soft wind was caressing the yellow flowers that had grown in between the graves.
Slovenia has no more secrets for me. Ha. However, I knew the rural area of Bela Krajina lesser than other regions. Except for a few times when I drove across it heading to Zagreb, I hadn’t been in Novo Mesto and its surroundings since Rock Otočec 2008. And even if I still hang on truly, madly, dearly to the memories of that crazy weekend, nine years later I’m trading mud wrestling for the charm of a landscape resort –Big Berry– nestled into this unspoilt corner of Slovenia.
Standing at the end of the small peninsula of Mahdia, at the foot of the Turkish stronghold Borj El-Kebir, the white graves follow one another towards the turquoise sea and they all point in the same direction, which is the direction of Mecca.
The Mahdia cemetery was founded in the 10th century, which is when the Arabs arrived in the village, and it is still in use.
For my fellow graveyard enthusiasts, I’m keeping the tradition alive (no pun intended) by posting a ‘cemetery special’ on Halloween.
This year’s special is on cemeteries in Bristol, the town where I learnt the very English distinction between ‘cemetery’ and ‘graveyard’ (which can be ‘churchyard’ in some -obvious- cases).
Searching for authenticity in Florence can be quite a hard challenge: averring that the town is overcrowded with tourists would be an understatement and the fact that I had screenings to attend at fixed times in the city center made my off-the-beaten-path exploration of Florence trickier. Moreover, that weekend I spent at the Balkan Florence Express film festival was exceptionally rainy, and so now and then I was forced to stop and shelter in some nice café.
This is not my first time in Venice, although it’s the first time I’ve really liked this city. Usually, I stopped in Venice for a few hours during my Rome – Ljubljana journeys, so I had never explored the Venetian lagoon as far as its most underrated islands. This time, instead, by spending almost one week in the area before heading to Slovenia, I rose to the challenge of exploring Venice off the beaten path.