The past year has seen many people across the world grapple with a very specific type of loss; the sadness of a trip not taken, the mourning of exploring new cultures, the yearning for experiences beyond the anomie of the supermarket. As that strong desire for, and impulse to, wander the world fell prey to the pandemic in a turbulent 2020, we seemed at one point to be surging toward an anticipatory dystopia. Who were we without travel? What do we have to look forward to when there is no international holiday booked for summer?

Over the course of the past 12 months, we’ve been commissioning artists, painters and illustrators from different cities all over the world to paint a picture of what they see out their windows – either real or imaginary. Most artists have been confined to these cities during the global lockdowns, and all have a close connection to the place they have illustrated. Each artist has a “GRAZIA At Home City Guide” perched on their window sill, insider guides to the cities you need to visit and recollections of moments past in these nooks of the world; how they drank in the palaces, how they wandered through the parks and how they ate and ate and ate. There’s recommendations too – local dishes, phrases and lessons – so you can start imagining your own itinerary from the comfort of your own home. Today, we’re headed to Altomonte in Italy.

“To realise this illustration, I just closed my eyes and let my memories live,” says artist Francesco Caporale. “I wish I could have added many other elements beside those you can see… but not even ten papers would have been enough.”

Altomonte is a small town in the south of Italy and despite a population of just over 4000 people, the quaint village – described by Caporale as a “Euro-Mediterranean utopia” – is alive with culture. Caporale’s vibrant “doodle art” is reflective of that. The illustrator was raised there before moving to the capital city of Milan at the age of 18.

Although 11 years have passed, Caporale still considers Altomonte as a city of family, friends, food, love and affection. “The recipe of happiness indeed,” recalls Caporale. “The bond that unites me to this place, in addition to family and loved ones, is undoubtedly the will to change things and the need to restore life and dignity to a place that was doing well before this pandemic. Small villages will be the solution to the ‘right’ world that we are chasing. I am firmly convinced of this.”

The small town sits in the centre of the region of Calabria; rugged and steep mountains on one horizon and a sun-soaked, cascading coastline on the other. It is because of this that Altomonte has its name (translated in English as “high mountain”) while it is also referred to as the “Wedding City” thanks to its stunning views and abundant fields of olive groves and native vineyards. If Caporale were to create a fragrance that best embodied the city, it would just be “squeezed olive oil”. Altomonte is the idyllic destination to experience the local Italian cuisine and to relax – with a terracotta bowl of local fried crispy peppers and a beverage concocted from liquorice liquor in hand.

“Don’t waste time planning travel, just do it! In my opinion we’ve forgotten the most beautiful aspects of travelling: surprise, curiosity and improvisation,” says Caporale.

Follow Francesco Caporale @fradesign.it

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