In January, I decided to visit Morocco and bought a return ticket to Marrakech for € 70. I bought it and the following week I was flying to Marrakech. After about 2 hours, the view from the top was very impressive. We landed in Marrakech that was late afternoon, and after following the visa procedure and having changed a little money, I bought a phone card and headed for the bus that would take me to the main Medina of Marrakech. On the bus a Moroccan man named Abladi, who to my surprise spoke Tuscan, gave me some information about the city. I asked him why he spoke Italian and told me that he had not lived in Morocco for some years now and that he and his family had moved to Arezzo. When we arrived, I went down and stood for a minute to look at the Jamaa el-Fna square. It was beautiful, full of colors, people, music, perfumes, it was so full of people that I could not wait to walk and get lost in the Medina. In that half hour, I had completely absorbed in the confusion.
Get lost in Marrakech
Abladi, he asked me if I knew where the Riad I had booked was, I replied that I had the address and that I could get by myself, but he kindly smiled at me and told me that I would never arrive on my own because I had no idea how much it was difficult to find it in the midst of those infinite and very small violets. I accepted his help and we went in search of the Riad, he explained to me to take some points of reference, sure of being oriented, we entered a street so narrow that I could touch with his hands from side to side walls and continuing there was the feeling to enter the houses distinguished by small doors covered with wonderful Moroccan fabrics, I was more and more ecstatic, but at the same time understood that Abladi was right, alone I would have been lost.
Arrived at the Riad, Abladi greeted me, I checked in and took me to the room, I took a shower and I changed, but the receptionist stopped me and made me sit in the hall, distinguished by the traditional spontaneous architecture of Morocco. After a few minutes of waiting, I served the typical Moroccan tea darija atay, tea produced thanks to the infusion of boiling water on green tea leaves and mint, it was delicious, I relaxed and I tasted it until the last drop.
I went out of the hotel and got lost to go to the square, fortunately to get some landmarks I needed to get to the center of the square and meet Abladi and his Tuscan family. They were very kind to me, and they invited me to have dinner with them. They explained to me that they were in Marrakech because they wanted to open an Italian restaurant and they would have traveled far and wide to start looking for the best area for their future restaurant. In the meantime the waiter arrived and asked us what we wanted to order, and I obviously wanted to try their typical dish and Abadi at that point advised me the chicken Tajine.
La Tajine is a type of terracotta pot suitable for slow cooking. Originally from the Moroccan gastronomic culture, the chicken was accompanied by potatoes, seasoned with spices and saffron. It was absolutely delicious and also quite spicy, but I love chilli, so I did not have much trouble finishing it. after the dinner we went to the medina and took a walk through the stalls and for the first time I entered the Medina, and the only thing I wanted was to lose myself among the thousand fabrics and the thousand perfumes. After a long walk, we each returned to their riads to rest. The following day, he managed to get to the square without getting lost and went to a bar to have breakfast, I met Abladi and his relatives; fortunately there was a good coffee and from the kitchen came a gentleman dressed as a cook who came to our table to greet his Tuscan friends was Il dada, or the cook. The dada guard the arts and traditions of the Berber cuisine. Overflowing dishes, to be consumed with calm and dedication, still warm, fragrant, with fresh local ingredients. There were also some honey treats that gave me the right charge to face the day, so I started towards Palace Bahia, a palace of eight hectares of Marrakesh, considered a masterpiece of traditional Moroccan architecture.
The visit inside the palace Bahia lasted 2 hours, it was impossible not to stop to admire those wonderful mosaics, full of colors, the eyes had a hard time detaching. The building is divided into buildings built according to a pattern that seems almost untidy, without a set order, organized around several courtyards or lush gardens where there are orange trees, banana tree, cypress, hibiscus and jasmine irrigated by qanāt. These gardens divide the set of rooms, stables, mosques and ḥammām that make up the complex.
He came out of the building that was now lunch and the only thing I wanted was to eat, Abladi amazed me by taking me to a neighborhood not frequented by tourists but mostly not frequented by many women, there were only wagons, with a lot of smoke coming out and not she did nothing but soak up her clothes, but from there came a fragrance that caught my attention and that did nothing but make me grumble my stomach. We entered and died from the curiosity to taste their delicacies, as soon as they took their place they brought us bread accompanied by a sauce made from raw tomatoes cut very small and onion, followed by grilled meat that combined with tomatoes was absolutely the end of the world . Get out of there full but satisfied with the choice of Abladi!
In the afternoon, back to the square, I went to the Medina for a walk, I wanted to buy a nice Moroccan dress! Walking in the souk I could not help but stop and admire the amount of spices and sweets they had, it was a mystical experience, smelling all those perfumes and colors! Past the culinary part; I came to a lady who was selling fabrics and colorful clothes, I stopped and asked if I could try some clothes, or show me some fabrics to make it to measure and first started to show me the clothes, but as soon as I turned and looked at the top I noticed a beautiful color dress, with ethnic work and black pearls, it was wonderful, I told her that I wanted to try it, and she kindly gave it to me and tried it on the clothes I had because it was wide enough, it was very elegant, the Signora winked at me and told me in French that I was beautiful and looked like a Berber; needless to say that that dress was mine. It happened to me the next day, I met with Abladi and the others, but after a long walk I got a blister and decided to stop and buy some slippers, I went into this shop near the bar and asked if they had replied that they only had Moroccan shoes, the babouches, or the slippers in Aladdin style, I tried them and he told me that I could be exchanged 100% for Berber.
I bought them and put them, the others made fun of me because they were actually funny about me. We entered this bar authorized to sell alcohol, and when my turn came he told me in Arabic: you do not want to drink too! I obviously did not understand, Abladi intervened and told him that I was not Moroccan and that I did not speak Arabic, the waiter apologized and brought me what I had asked for! After a chat and a few laughs about being mistaken for Moroccan, we finished the beer, and went back to the Riad to take the suitcase.
I decided to stay close to my new friends, for the first time in my travels I decided to continue with people I did not know but this because I understood that with them I would have seen much more than not alone. Fixed the suitcase, he succeeded and I met with the others, they asked me if I wanted to go with them to the Casino of Marrakech, so after dinner we went on foot, it was my first time in a mess and I was very lucky, my unconsciousness made me sit down and play slots, although I was playing like crazy with just € 500 in my pocket, luck assisted me and came out of there with € 200 more, I was satisfied but at the same time I knew that was the first time and last in a mess. I went back to the hotel and collapsed from so much walking, the next morning I woke up early and went to have breakfast, I met Romana and told me that we were going to the Jewish suk, which I was absolutely curious to see.
The souk, or rather Il Mellah, was built in Marrakech around 1558. Living in its own neighborhood in Marrakech allowed the Jewish community to start up activities such as tailors, jewelers that allowed them to work profitably in the city. Today the Mellah of Marrakech is a place unlike any other in the Medina, and what amazed me are its picturesque streets with an ancient and ruined appearance. The remains of the Mellah of Marrakech are now known as the area of Hay Essalam. Entering the main door of the Mellah, the shops will hit you because they are tidy and colorful, characterized by wooden doors, whose goods are displayed in an orderly manner, different from the rest of the Medina neighborhoods. Returned from the souk, Romana and the others returned to the hotel to rest, but I tireless after a delicious vegetable cous cous, I resumed energies and asked Abladi if it was possible to ride the camel, he replied that I could do it but we had to get away from the square and arrive to the northeast of Marrakech, to the Palm grove, an extraordinary place with more than 100,000 palm trees, planted by the Almoravid dynasty.
Palm Grove of Marrakech
The palm grove continues to be a source of wealth for the city. In addition to producing dates and wood, palm trees create a good ecosystem for fruit trees and plantations, which live together in this area. We came to a gentleman who motioned me to follow him, arrived near the camel he bent down and allowed me to climb among the humps, but when he straightened his paws believed to fall, the gentleman told me to keep well and that nothing would happen. We began to walk with a slow and cadenced course; at first I found it difficult to find a good balance on the animal, but after a few steps I began to feel at ease and in tune with the camel. After half an hour’s walk, he bent down and gently sent me down. It was truly a beautiful afternoon in the company of these extraordinary animals. Back from the Palm Grove, after a shower, I found myself with the others for dinner, and they told me that the next day if I wanted I could go with them to Essaouira, a city in Morocco, the capital of the homonymous province, in the Marrakech-Safi region. overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. I decided to go.
The next morning, we left very early, during the trip I could not help but notice the quantity of Argan trees, with a wide head of hair, growing almost exclusively in Morocco and it is a rare and protected species that produces sweet fruits. After about 3 hours of travel we arrived in a clearing, went down to take pictures and finally not far from us, washed by the sea, we could see Essaouira in all its beauty. We returned to the car, after 10 minutes we parked and on foot we started towards this beautiful seaside village. Immediately ahead we presented the important port connection between Morocco and the rest of Africa; I caught sight of the characteristic blue boats moored by the fishermen who, when they return to the ancient Mogador, dedicate themselves to the sale of the excellent freshly caught fish. And as a good lover of fish I could not not try; I approached a gentleman who had many sea urchins, and oysters, for a few cents I ate plenty of it and with me Romana.
After our feast, we continued our walk to discover Mogador, famous above all for its sensational seaside Medina registered in the list of World Heritage sites by UNESCO. The fortress, the white and changing walls, the relaxation of its inhabitants, the Kasbah, the artisan shops, make this city unique and with a European flavor: in 1756 the French made it a perfect example of military architecture and enriched it with walls, towers , ramparts and doors succeeding in perfectly combining Arab-Muslim culture with that of overseas. Essaouria, originally called Mogador, ie a small fortress, has always been an important port connecting Morocco with the rest of Africa and Europe. This fortified port city of the mid-18th century, with a strong European influence in a North African context, is simply wonderful and a must for your holidays in Morocco. The coasts of Essaouria are swept throughout the year by the ocean breezes and many surfers and windsurfers who reach it to twirl on the surface of the water off the coast. I recommend you visit the fish market and observe the work of fishermen and traders. The stores sell beautiful local handicrafts such as thuja wood products, embroidered clothes and rugs. We left the port behind us and reached the Medina, it was beautiful to walk among those colors with the sun that warmed us enough. Without realizing it, lunchtime arrived and we decided to eat near the sea, we entered this fisherman’s restaurant and ordered; with 30 € we ate fish until it burst. Very satisfied with our lunch, I decided to go to the beach to see the aspiring surfers who were lecturing, heard music not far from me, and were Moroccan lords dressed in white that sang on the beach for passers-by, with the mandolin. You never feel so relaxed. The landscape that I had before me was very impressive, the white houses, the sea, the seagulls and all the typical Moroccan colors absolutely captured my heart. I recommend everyone to visit Morocco because it is striking for its enormous geographical diversity. You go from the rocky desert to the sandy, from the sea to the mountains, from the plains rich in northern olive trees to the arid ones of the South and also the architectural style changes a lot depending on the area in which it is. To know especially the Moroccan community and their culture is absolutely my first advice because in general they are very hospitable and curious to know the life of the tourists they meet. An important part for me in the social life of Morocco concerns hospitality. The guest is always a person who is dedicated to the highest regard, whoever it is. He is therefore always offered something to drink or eat. Often a family even takes food out of its mouth to offer it to its guest.
My adventure in Morocco after a week ended and as always in my travels a piece of my heart remained there, grateful for the people I met and for what my eyes could see.