Libri e Puzze: guest post per Postmodern Spray

Il mio amico Nic di Postmodern Spray, che si occupa di profumi e puzze, amico del cuore da anni e vulcano creativo, mi ha chiesto di scrivere un ghèst post su libri e profumi come portatori di storie, per il suo blog. In inglese. Io ho fatto i compiti, so che la maggior parte di voi l'inglese lo mastica... Quindi buona lettura!


First of all, thanks Nic for hosting me here. It'll be a pleasure to share my thoughts. 

My relationship to books is nothing new for me – it's been a loving one since I was a small kid. I grew up in a home full of books, with parents who would use a colourful, electrically lit globe at night to teach me history as an exciting bedtime story, the story of how and why we are who we are. First proof in n my life of how teaching can be done in a perfectly fun way. 
I love storytelling, and I love travelling, so books were, for me, one of the best possible inventions. They take you somewhere far away for virtually no money, they show you whole new worlds, real and imagined, they tickle and activate your imagination, and they teach you something on the way. Books are like people. You like some of them instinctively, and some you just can't stand from page one. Some of them are better read at certain points in life, which is why I'm a big re-reader, and I discover something new every single time. Like the important people in your life, books can contribute to those lightbulb moments, where you stop and think: that's true. And that never occurred to me before, how could it not??
Novels are a huge push for me to learn new languages. Words are great, and books are full of them. Try reading books out loud once: you'll discover how writers know what they're doing, how they play with sounds, and this does absolutely not only apply to poetry. 
When I say books, I actually mean stories – I am not possessive at all, with actual books. I give my books away all the time, because I know I can usually buy them again. 

Smells and perfumes are something I became conscious of a lot later, because for me, they are strongly linked to memory. As long as my past was 5 years long, I didn't really care much for them. I am not one of those people who can distinguish smells easily: I go by gut feeling, like I do with art. If it awakens my gut feeling, then I like it, and it doesn't really matter to me what it is. 
With time, perfumes and smells became very important for me, and I can think of a distinctive smell that brings back memories or visual images for many of the cities I love (because I lived there, because I visited them several times.) 
Istanbul is always a sensory overload: the perfume of dark çay, the smell in the street, with dust and exhaust and sweat and cats and rubbish lying on the street, waiting to be collected. The salty smell of the sea, down on the Bosphorus.
I've just visited Rome, a very important city in my childhood, a small trip which was also full of smell-related epiphanies. Imagine: I step into Villa Borghese, I crush a few pine needles while walking, and a river of images from my childhood in Rome and Tuscany comes back, when I used to play under pine trees the whole afternoon. I was dumbstruck for a moment, because the memory was so precise and powerful. Rome is the perfume of oleanders in quiet side streets, it's the smell of people on overcrowded transport, it's the cheese on cacio e pepe, it's the smell of exhaust in the streets. Budapest is the green smell of trees up in the hills and the black smell of burnt rubber in the metro station. Vienna is the faint, fresh smell of wood in people's apartments and the smell of elderflowers in the streets in spring. 
Milan is the smell of my apartment, and my mother's perfume when I hug her at the airport. It's the perfume of my grandmother's hair, the same as when I hugged her when she came to save me from kindergarden, when I was 5. 

I suppose I love books and perfumes for the same reason: both of them bring stories with them. Both of them activate my brain and remind me of things past, beautiful and painful. What matters is, these stories are what make me me. So I cherish them. 


  1. Bellissimo post (e tra l'altro condivido tutto!) :)
    Tra l'altro, di Istanbul ho un'impressione olfattiva praticamente uguale alla tua! Di Budapest invece mi hai suggerito un'evocazione bellissima :)
    Alex V

    1. Sono contenta che ti sia piaciuto. Scusa il ritardo, sono in pieno svuotamento casa e Mollaggio Base!


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