My memories of the short trip to Tunisia, unfold on the thread of memory, alternating real photographs taken in my mind to the intense sensory emotions caused by the scent of the flowers of the gardens of Tunis and Hammamet that still remain in the nostrils.
A land with the scent of jasmine
I was there six years ago: behind the Jasmine Revolution against Ben Ali and still far from the time of the attacks that have driven people away from this hospitable and beautiful land.
The intense scent of jasmine, which is everywhere in Tunisia, lingers in the vivid memory, especially in the enormous gardens that surround its thousand and Scheherazadian years hotels, elegant and fascinating as only in certain parts of the world can they be, with exclusive services offered with great simplicity, which contrasts with the extreme refinement of the environments. A touch of true poetry is the act of offering the heated traveler a fresh and perfumed towel to cleanse the sweat and a glass of lemon-flavored almond milk.
Already you feel reborn! But it is nothing in the face of what awaited me in the suite: fresh flowers, a basket of tasty local fruit and petals, petals and petals of roses all over the place! A welcome so romantic that it was really a shame to travel alone in these magnificent places.
In the gardens large swimming pools with inviting and suggestive water games, but for those who prefer the sea there is also that. Walkways through the grass lead to very long beaches of fine golden sand where it is nice to relax on comfortable chaise-longues under the shade of straw umbrellas, refreshing from time to time, bathing in a clear, calm and shallow sea.
The magic is again in the evening. For gourmets, there is plenty of choice among the restaurants offered by the big hotels, where you can taste excellent wine glasses accompanied by couscous, fresh fish and local delights.
But let’s go in order. The tour, discovering cities full of charm, golden beaches, turquoise sea, fragrant and colorful markets and, to end with beauty, excellent cuisine, began in Tunis, with the flight from Rome landed here.
Then it continues to Sidi Bou Said, the small white and blue center that contrasts with the reds and violets of the extraordinarily lush bougainvilleas that overlooks the bay.
It owes its name to a saint, Abou Said ibn Khalef ibn Yahia Ettamini el Beji who wanted to build a village here, but the white and blue that characterizes the picturesque village originated in the early ‘900 by a rule established by Baron Rodolphe d’Erlanger.
The walk through the paved streets and the white houses leads to the top of the village where the view sweeps across the bay but as you climb the gaze catches the blue of the sea even between one house and another.
The stop in Sousse, a town famous for its long and crowded coastline both day and night, is a must not only for purchases of the best Tunisian crafts but also to taste the local specialties.
Among these I tasted the brik, a sort of calzone of light puff pastry, stuffed with tuna and eggs and then fried, a typical dish of Ramadan, enough energy to be complied, after sunset, to the fast you do during the day in the period.
Another typical dish of the month of fasting are the fingers of Fatima, a fried sheet in the shape of a cylinder filled with minced meat and spices. A basic element of Tunisian culinary tradition is the harissa, a mixture of chilli and local spices.
Only regret? Being a guest in the hotel with the largest thalassotherapy center in Tunisia and not having taken advantage of it!
The last day was dedicated to Tunis, the capital and main gateway to the country, and to its lively and colorful markets.
After a walk along the long Avenue Bourguiba, stop at the Marché central, the large covered market where you can find all the Tunisian production of fruit, fish, vegetables, spices and all kinds of goods.
So, buy the juicy ripe dates, go to the souk for the last purchases before leaving, with the illusion of being able to take away a bit ‘of this wonderful atmosphere.