viaggio in Uzbekistan tra Bukhara e Samarcanda

Travel to Uzbekistan: what to see between Bukhara and Samarkand along the Silk Road

One of the first things you understand during a trip to Uzbekistan is that here the tan is the stuff of peasants. She, Tarifa, slit eyes and unsheathed smile, shakes her head, hugs her multicolored shawl and adds to the dose: “tanned women are ugly. Stop”. Everything else is wasted breath as it is useless to try to argue that even the eyebrows joined in the middle with decisive strokes of makeup are not the best, that the golden incisors will never find hospitality on Vogue, what proud feminine mustaches from ours parts make you shiver. Here we are at Bukhara, in the heart ofUzbekistan deep, Tarifa has the granite certainties of a teenager who knows the rules of bon ton well and that’s enough: a woman does not sunbathe. And if the shawls are not enough, the umbrellas will be opened wide.

Parasols and shawls, other than chadors and burkas. While half the Islamic world bundles their women in the penitential imprisonment of veils here, in Uzbekistan, women cover themselves by their own choice. But it is not fundamentalism: it is vanity.

A trip to Uzbekistan: smiles and surprises

In short, an ancient and very feminine material that shines even in the eyes of the same girls who swarm in the street, in particular, on holidays: and who certainly do not lower their gaze in front of a man, preferably a foreigner. Indeed, the eyes stick them in your eyes and for smiles they do not choose half measures. And if this is not enough, without getting lost in hesitation, they move on to phase two: and they stop, smile at you and address you with a trilling “hallo”.

Trip to Uzbeksitan, wedding in Khiva

It does not matter that the repertoire in English runs dry almost immediately and then they find themselves chirping in Tajik: what matters is talking, smiling, getting to know each other. After all, try to understand each other. But, let it be clear and cursed be those who think badly, all this is absolutely candid, without double ends. For real.

Because the beauty of this distant land, where Islam is religion and not fever, where the tradition of the conquering khans is history and not a present of war, where every city is a jewel, where madrase and minarets seem fake they are so beautiful, it is also in its people: they do not give up on smiles. And if he sucks a tan, he loves those who come from afar instead. Tarifa, of course, but not only. Like her, the thousand boys, and even the military, who during a trip to Uzbekistan between Bukhara and Samarkand on the street they greet you, they come close to you, they shake your hand. And maybe, they stop you to ask for a photo: to be taken embraced with you, proud that a foreigner, one with a different eye cut, poses and smiles. And worse for him if he doesn’t have at least a few gold teeth.

Travel to Uzbekistan - Woman at the Bukhara market

A trip to Uzbekistan: what to see inthe cities of myth

This is why anyone who decides to travel to Uzbekistan and has a minimum of healthy curiosity must take it into account: you will be stopped, someone will talk to you, many will greet you. But few, very few, will stress you out to sell you something. The others, most of them, will look at you proud and aware of being the children of the children of Tamerlane and the heirs of the knights of Alexander the Great who in the fourth century here, in the ancient Samarkandtook the daughter of a local chief as his wife.

But every city in Uzbekistan has a story that smells of legend and every name is worth a heartbeat: Samarkandto say, but also Bukhara or Khivaplaces drenched in myths where the ghosts of the merchants of the Silk Road, lands of menageries and caravans, where slave raiders and hordes of warriors have galloped for centuries. Those fighters who seem to see again in the faces of old people, those with tanned skin, with Mongolian features and comb-like smiles and who could still today besiege the grim walls of the Ichon-Qala, the ancient heart of Khiva: for more than three centuries closed to protect the city, which trusts even knowing that they are made of mud. But that’s not why they are willing to give up.

Travel to Uzbekistan, the mud walls of Khiva

Discovering madrasas and markets

And right from the top of the earth-colored ramparts it is nice to let your gaze go and imagine the armies that have crossed these steppes, up to the last passage of the Soviets who have left ungainly traces of themselves in the capital. Tashkent, bristling with gray apartment blocks and mausoleums of Brezhnevian gloom. But the rest did not, the rest of the country did not want to yield to that legacy. For example a Bukharahome of the homonyms carpets, people still gather at sunset around the Lyabi-Hauza square built around one of the 200 basins that once gave water to the inhabitants.

Here, in front of the facades of the ancient madrasas, today unhurried waiters will serve you tasty plov dishesthat is to say rice and vegetables and raisins, or cyclopean portions of naan, the bread that looks like a donut, cooked in terracotta ovens that are identical much further south, in the heart of India. Those ovens that perfume the air in the less traveled streets, while women dressed in color bake flat cakes that are nice to eat, hot, in big bites, while getting lost in the markets: like the Siab bazaar from Samarkanda heated babel of stalls, smells and flavors that is not scary, an expanse of fruit and vegetables, fabrics and people who throng and struggle.

But where in the cheese area the women will hand you a spoon: to let you taste that their homemade yogurt is better than that of the neighbor. And this too is a memory that you will take home forever after trip to Uzbekistan.

Journey to Uzbekistan, the vendors at the Bukhara market

Travel to Uzbekistan. There steppe and palaces

Not enough for you? Then dare the inosable in the modest lands of Islam. During your trip to Uzbekistan raise your camera and start and focus: most will look in the camera, many will pose. Everyone will come to you and ask you to peek at the display to see themselves. And strut a little. The youngest and most casual will eventually scribble your e-mail address somewhere: “send me the picture” is the message, “I’ll write to you” is the promise. That having a distant friend, in a land like Italy, of which little is known except the names of the players and the other heroes of the Champions League challenges is beautiful. And you can brag to friends.

Let me be clear, you pay for all this: you pay with a seven-hour flight to reach Tashkent and then with internal flights to the other Uzbekistan runways on Tupolev, who had been of age for some time when the Wall fell. Or you can also pay with long journeys on roads without curves and without end that cross a red desert or a steppe that the Russians, without imagination but concrete, called “of death”. But the prize is there, and it shows. They are the madrasas of Registan of Samarkandperhaps the most exciting monument of theCentral Asiaand are the silent courtyards immersed in the ocher of the madrasa Mir-i-Arab from Bukharawhere the white trail of a jet in the sky seems almost an offense.

Khiva, an open-air museum

Desecration of today to a world that seems to have stopped yesterday. But the prize really comes during yours trip to Uzbekistan once a Khiva the sun has set behind the Kalta Minor minaret and the streets have emptied. Then it is worthwhile to retrace the streets, looking around, enjoying the illuminated facades of the buildings before going to sleep in the cells of the Mohamed Amin Khan madrasa transformed into a hotel. Outside the walls the statue of Tamerlane it is shrouded in shadows. But surely he too, without being noticed, smiles.

Journey to Uzbekistan, man on the streets of Samarkand

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