I went to Cappadocia for a photography workshop, knowing that there were beautiful landscapes and underground cities, but not realizing how beautiful Cappadocia actually is. Each valley is completely different from the other, and each one is more beautiful than the other. I liked it so much that after a week of workshop, I decided to go back for a month during the summer.
When I first arrived, I found myself in front of the so-called "Castle of Uçhisar" which is not a real castle but a fortress carved into the rock, now quite worn but incredibly fascinating. The entire village is delightful, old houses in the old parts of the village have been excavated in the rock with enormous arches. The houses are simple but enriched by the happiness of the local Turks - who are very welcoming - and the music of the saz, a sort of Turkish mandolin. It seems to go back in time, there are very few cars and the few that exist are at least twenty years old and everywhere you see carts drawn by horses, donkeys or mules. The people lead a rural life, but the place is so beautiful and quiet that I wanted to get a house there and never come back.
One morning, I woke up at four o'clock to go and photograph the hot air balloons, which are one of the major attractions of Cappadocia. I was not supposed to fly that morning, only to take photos, so I had arranged with the owners of a hot air balloon company to be picked up early in the morning.
While the balloon was being inflated, the pilot - who spoke only English and Turkish - asked me if I wanted to fly with them, because there were a couple of Italians who spoke no English and the man was blind, since the ticket was rather expensive, they wanted someone who could translate for him what the pilot said. I gladly accepted and it was really exciting. The flight itself was wonderful, it seemed to be floating in the air and the basket was high enough to be able to lean out comfortably without being scared of falling. The balloons follow the currents of air, but you can decide whether to make them go up or down depending on the amount of hot air coming in or out. We went up and down the various valleys, nearly touching the walls and admiring the different colours in the layers of rock.
Everything the pilot said and everything I saw, I told and described to the blind man, and when we landed, he hugged me and thanked me, telling me that he could see with my eyes and that I made his day. It was moving and I must say, it was one of the most beautiful days of my life.
Undoubtedly, to see the valleys from above is fascinating, but to discover many hidden wonders one must go on foot. Walking through a valleys, suddenly there's a hole in the rock, as there are thousands more, but some are particular ones, leaving you with your mouth open as you enter. There was delightful church completely carved into the rock with lots of columns. One must go with the guides in the valleys, otherwise, one risks getting lost and missing wonderful places that would never be found if one didn’t know them. Everywhere there are hidden cave churches. Each valley has its shapes and colours, but of particular interest are those towards Cavusin, where are the so-called fairy chimneys. They are so called because of the popular belief that the more compact rock had been placed on a pyramid of more friable tufa by the fairies themselves.
Another unforgettable experience is to walk in the valley on horseback and stopping to pick apricots which are everywhere and are the sweetest I've ever eaten, in fact, they can be seen drying on the roofs of houses.
When in doubt on where to go on holiday, I suggest a visit to this magical place, but it is very hot in summer and very cold in winter, so the best times are spring and late summer / early fall, because it is really worth visiting the valleys, which are all different and all beautiful, but there’s a lot of walking involved!