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The lazy tourist

Leptis Magna. The four syllables were a summons. As soon as I heard them I knew I had to go

Towards the end of the 20th century I lived with an Italian girlfriend in Rome, where I became conscious of what used to be called the grandeur of antiquity. Valeria had been born in Tripoli, and one day she showed me some photos of her mother and father in their teens, courting in some Roman ruins on the Mediterranean coast of Libya. These images of an ideal colonial romance showed Mario in a white shirt and pleated grey trousers, Anna in a white dress. They were tanned and wearing sunglasses, leaning against columns, perched on chunks of antiquity. The sky…

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