“Don’t go on the Moscow Metro on your own, “ says Artem, my Russian friend living in Luxembourg. “Best to go with a friend.” But I have a two-hour gap on a Sunday morning when my reveler friends are sleeping in. The Monday rush hour, carrying 8 – 9 million passengers between 194 stations, is … Continue reading The Magnificent Moscow Metro
I walk past shadowy figures muttering a cacophony of words that I can barely understand. They are carrying bundles of sparse possessions they will take with them to the New World. But it is the large photo at the end of the corridor that catches my eye. A group of emigrants, dressed in massive coats … Continue reading Braving the waves on the Red Star Line
A cluster of dockyard cranes bow down to a magnificent Cubist tower of Indian red sandstone interlaced with swathes of curved glass. This is MAS, the Museum Ann De Stroom (Museum on the River) in Antwerp. It stands 60 metres high between the ziggurat roofs of the historic centre and the industrial sprawl of the … Continue reading Antwerp in the World: The World in Antwerp
We stand on the summit of a hill in sweltering heat. “This is our Ellis island,” says Nicolas flourishing his hand across the landscape. “It’s where migrants first came to Luxembourg and, indeed, still come.” But instead of Atlantic waves lapping beneath our feet railway tracks, bordered by disused steelworks, sweep towards France. And, across … Continue reading Luxembourg’s Ellis Island in Dudelange
Whoever thought of siting the Cite National de l’Histoire de l’Immigration (National Museum of Immigration History – CNHI, Paris) in the former Palace of the Colonies posed a challenge for the curators. It is undoubtedly an impressive Art Deco building from the 1930s. Intricate naked or half naked stone figures, working cocoa, coffee, cotton or … Continue reading What’s in a building? – migrants across the Channel in the National Museum of Immigration History (Paris, France)
A mural of faces in different hues of blue, green, red, yellow and white painted by Amnesty. Abandoned boats, on spare ground overlooking the port – three from Libya and two from Tunisia. A cluster of coastguard boats nestled against the harbour wall, designed to rescue people more easily from the sea. In the distance … Continue reading Lovely Lampedusa and PortoM – M for Mediterranean, Migration, Memory or Militarisation?
My B&B is along Via Alloro, a narrow street in Palermo’s medieval quarter that winds towards the port. The room is lovely. From my balcony I can almost touch the walls of the palazzo opposite My welcoming host marks on a map the best places for street food, the gallery of Sicilian medieval art at … Continue reading Palermo en route to?
It sounds so intriguing. A museum in a former dairy farm fitted out like the interior of an ocean liner in a remote part of Calabria in southern Italy. The curator is Gian Antonio Stella, columnist for the Corriere della Sella, well known for his writings on migration and his book, L’Orda, the Horde. La … Continue reading Exile to and flight from Calabria
We stand in two lines facing each other in a hall in Garbatella, a garden suburb built for the working classes during the Fascist era. The hall is used by Asinitas, a charity working with migrants, that follows the enlightened methods of such educationalists as Montessori and Cemea. “Buongiorno,” we sing, orchestrated by Carolina. “Buongiorno, … Continue reading Art and anarchists at Asinitas and Italy’s National Museum of Emigration
As I leave Lucca, I open up my book, Let the Games Begin by Niccolo Ammaniti. ‘A raunchy and satirical romp,’ says Ian Rankin. ‘Debauchery on an epic scale,’ writes Big Issue. But I’m struggling. Take the characters for a start. There’s Fabrizio, in his crumpled designer suit, who is struggling to write a best … Continue reading Grafitti, pickpockets and Satanic cults in Rome