“You’ve got to have a Country, if only for the pleasure of leaving it behind. A Country means not to be alone; to know that in the people, in the trees, in the earth, there is a part of you, that stays there for you even when you are not around.” (Cesare Pavese, “La Luna e i Falò”). After the simple (albeit sincere) small opening ceremonies, especially after a year’s work by a group of youths and after the past two weeks of preparations, finally Casa Italia (Italy House) has become a welcoming and warm home where the first groups of young Italian pilgrims gathered shortly after their arrival in Krakow. Today I witnessed the arrival of a large group young people: the standard bearers ahead (a couple of whom held long plastic bars attached to a fluttering Italian flag). They all walked in and proceeded to the centre of the courtyard with a clumsy march, that waned as they stopped. A naïve way to say: “we’re here. We’re all here together.”
Indeed, when we’re away from home we feel closer and united. But it’s not enough. The experience of inhabiting a home – we wish – should continue also upon our return to the places of our daily lives.
The youths mill around Krakow’s streets. It would be impossible not to hear or see them. But their amiableness wouldn’t be enough if it failed to make them appreciate the value of fraternity. Bonds encompass mysterious elements that are expressed in a special way when we travel, where we’re far from home. The young boys and girls walk hand in hand, they look into each other’s eyes, they sing, laugh and joke. Some of them wander off in the attempt of delivering a consequential speech. But of all this would still be insufficient if it stopped at that.
We conceived Casa Italia as a home; one of those places to be lived as our miniature “homeland”, for coexistence deserves being practised.
It takes place under the banner of fraternity: the only hope to overcome all fears. Over the past few days the youths have given a great testimony of courage. Their closeness challenges the fears harboured by adults. It could be seen as a typical feature of the enthusiasm of youth, if it weren’t accompanied by longed for coexistence, motivated by a genuine spirit of authentic fraternity. Casa Italia has been conceived as a place that highlights a façade with the invitation to go beyond it and grasp the small signs of a hard-earned daily experience.
“Unexpectedly” (the youths wrote) we are ushered into a world we could barely even dream of
The hope is that all of this could truly happen not only in Krakow (that presents the conditions for it to happen, and it probably will), but especially when the youths are back home; upon their return to their home Countries and to their loved ones, to discover that the world has always been looking forward to their return; in the expectation that their presence may signify something new. Wishing a good WYD to all youths and to the families following them from Italy. Their journey has begun. It’s the first page of a story yet to be written and shared.