‘I’ve never been treated so well in all my life’ – Says Andrea Angelucci on visiting Pakistan
Archaeologist, tour guide, traveler, designer, artist, mountaineer, photographer, singer – Andrea Angelucci has many talents and visiting Pakistan is giving him a chance to explore all of them with passion! Speaking of passion, we also seemed to have fallen in love with this Italian traveler whose engaging Instagram and Facebook images caught our attention. We just had to get in touch with him and we did! Listen in and read about his love for Pakistani hospitality, architecture, mountains and more in a heart to heart with FUCHSIA!
Setting aside the obvious scenic beauty and the history this country has to offer, what I have appreciated the most here is the amazing hospitality, kindness and welcoming nature of the people. The West has a lot to learn in this matter, and by giving this interview, I hope to show a token of appreciation to all the people who have been so unexpectedly kind and generous to me throughout my trip. Once I go back to Europe, I will make sure to push people to visit Pakistan setting aside all doubts and fears, because I know they will discover a beautiful country, as well as gentle people who show pride in their country.
I’ve always dreamed about seeing your country. When I was reading about Alexander the Great arriving at the ancient end of the world, I was dreaming to see all those beautiful places; like Taxila, where Greek culture and local culture meet. Some years ago I met a Pakistani girl who became a good friend of mine, then I met her whole family and now I’m like a son for them. So, I started to love everything about Pakistan: food, customs, traditions. Visiting Pakistan became my dream, and they knew that.
Well, last December, the dream finally came true. I left for Pakistan with Ali, my friend’s brother. This was not only a pleasure trip, but it was also an exploratory journey to understand if it is possible to organize tours for European people in Pakistan. During my trip, I discovered such beautiful places and I’ll be really happy to show them to people from my country.
Andrea Angelucci tells us about himself, his Italian heritage, and why he loves history so much!
I’m Andrea Angelucci and I’m from Rome, Italy. My father gave to me his passion for archaeology and this is the reason why I became an archaeologist. My family is a very traditional Italian family and everybody loves history. People living in Rome are surrounded by such a lot of ancient monuments that it is very difficult to NOT develop a deep interest in ancient history. My family and I traveled a lot in our country, visiting many amazing places and this is the reason why I got addicted to traveling and mountaineering. I have a university degree in Archaeology but unfortunately in Italy, due to the political situation not keen to invest in cultural heritage, it is very difficult to find a job in this field.
Currently, I am a tour guide and I take groups to visit my city and all other beautiful places in Italy. I’m very proud of my customer’s satisfaction. In addition, I have started to organize some tours in different countries and I’m planning to open a travel agency to organize archaeological tours all over the world.
Did your love for sketching motivate you to travel?
Quite the contrary, I think that traveling inspires me to sketch. Before I’m leaving for a new trip, I need to take notes, so I started to sketch for fun. I was inspired by my favorite movie, “Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade”. I started with pencil drawings and then I progressed to watercolors. I’ve never sketched until last year. I think it’s a very relaxing activity, and I’m feeling quite happy drawing. Drawing is also a great way to memorize a monument’s feature.
I choose the most representative and romantic places for my sketches. Ancient monuments really strike me, because they combine beauty and historical value. In fact, for this reason, I have never yet designed modern structures. I like to draw old buildings as if I were an ancient explorer – when there were no photographs.
And have your travels in Pakistan inspired you to learn Urdu? (We ask hopefully)
I’ve learned some very simple words since I was in Italy. I’ve learned how to say “yes” or “not”, how to count to ten, how to answer the phone. I would like to speak fluent Urdu. Maybe in the future!
Andrea Angelucci surprised us further with a song he learned in Urdu:
During this journey, while I admired the beautiful minarets of Badshahi Masjid in Lahore, I sang the verse of a romantic song that says “Suno na sangemarmar ki yeh minaare”. It reminds me of some precious moments, but I’ve recently discovered that this is an Indian song! So, I’m so sorry, but my love for music doesn’t take account about the borders! But I really like the Pakistani traditional music of Qawaali!
Any surprises about Pakistan, that you didn’t know till you visited?
I really don’t know. I already had a certain idea about Pakistan transmitted by friends of mine here in Italy. Sure I didn’t think that it was a country full of terrorists, and this I verified in person. Non sono mai stato trattato così bene in tutta la mia vita, (I’ve never been treated so well in all my life) with so much kindness and hospitality. But maybe there was a surprise: I thought that some archaeological sites were more looked after and visited, but I noticed that at some of these sites, I was the first European visitor after decades! And this is a pity! They really deserve more consideration!
How can we improve our tourism? (We ask Andrea Angelucci, a bit apprehensively)
I only noticed something unpleasant once. I visited the salt mines in Khewra and I paid a ticket of $20 because I’m a foreigner, while a ticket for a Pakistani citizen costs Rs.220. Agreed that there should be a price differential between citizens and foreigners, but this was really exaggerated. I came from far away to visit them and for those like me, this could be something that discourages the visit for them. I think it’s an example of some things that need to be improved.
The gap between poor and rich; there is still too much difference. I have seen in some cases an immense poverty. But I have also seen that things are improving rapidly, and I’m sure that in the future things will be completely different. I think the new phase you are going through is the beginning of a golden age. And in the future it will be fundamental to invest in the tourism sector.
We were curious to see what Andrea found shop-worthy in Pakistan, so of course, we had to ask!
I bought many Ajraks in Sindh, I love the colors of those textiles! I also bought a lot of pink tea (Kashmiri Chai) from Kashmir because I want to drink it also in Italy. In Taxila I bought a lot of souvenirs: some Buddhas made in clay; that, for an archaeologist are beautiful memories. I also bought a lot of tasty and typical Pakistani oranges. And finally I bought clothes for myself because I really love Kurtas and I will wear them here in Italy too. And I bought a typical Pakistani dress for my mother.
On coming back to Pakistan and obliging us with a special sketch for Team FUCHSIA!
I really hope to be back soon. Maybe I’m going to be back next summer, to visit the northern areas and my beloved mountains. I’m really dreaming to see the Nanga Parbat or the K2! About the sketch, I have to say that I’ve never drawn human subjects, so you can send me a picture of the building where you are working and that yes, I can sketch it!
I’m planning to visit Iran and other Middle-Eastern countries. I really love Islamic culture and I would like to deepen my understanding of it, because I think that the things that bring us together are more then those that divide us.
I’ll take a group of people from Italy to Bosnia next April. Over there you can see an incredible cohabitation among Christians and Muslim cultures. And well, I really hope to be back in Pakistan next summer. Insha Allah!
This article is the collaboration effort of several members of Team FUCHSIA.