‘When I came to Spain and I saw people party, I said to myself...’ Four.

I became seriously obsessed with the number four, seeing it everywhere around the city. It all started when I was trying to remember what I had learned for the Italian Leaving Cert about the Sagrada Familia: four the facades originally planned, four the different themes for each facade, four the towers, four the cardinal virtues of the Church, four the evangelists, four the arms of a cross, four the mixtilinear triangles on much of the city pavement, four the triangles that form the coat of arms of the city, four, four, four.

I could find out some link to number four practically in every Gaudi work which, by the way, has often the vice of being purposely unfinished (to such an extent that cranes or scaffoldings seem to become an integral part of it).

Apart from Gaudi and my obsessions, Barcellona is a great city. Known principally because of Modernism and the its football club, it has much more to offer, beginning with a very lively nightlife (exactly the kind of things you can see in a Sak Noel’s video on YouTube).

Much to my surprise, a taxi driver said that the dialect they speak in Catalonia is really close to Italian. In fact, he asked me to talk to him in Italian and not in English ‘because I don’t feel that comfortable with English’. Even better for me. And, most of all, he told me that he had learned Italian to be able to read the original version of Italian books, since he was very interested in my homeland’s literature.

Needless to say he made me the happiest men on earth for a few minutes. The idea of somebody learning to speak Italian in an every day more English-speaking world simply fills me with hope for the future of my native language. And the fact that he was learning that for ‘fun and pure interest’ stir up my love for the language of the Bel Paese, that has been deep since I was a little boy and started writing.

The revival of Italian in my Barcelona experience reached the peak on the plane back home, when I taught the girl sitting beside me how to count from 1 to 10. With much more effort than her, I learned to do that in Irish.

Travelling the world should always be something like this. Quenching your thirst for knowledge and discovering new things, while reminding yourself where you come from, and how much you love that place called home.