My Swedish journey began in Malmö, where there is a very interesting building, a skyscraper in torsion, which is precisely called Turning Torso. Usually I’m not a great lover of modern buildings, but this one is really very beautiful, as indeed is Malmö, but unfortunately I had little time to visit it properly because I was there to follow the footsteps of Linnaeus for his three hundredth anniversary, and went especially to visit botanical gardens.
The first stop was at Lund University where there are eco-sustainable building designs and a beautiful cathedral, originally built in 1085, but later destroyed by a fire and rebuilt following the Romanesque style. The cathedral is important because it is the seat of the bishop of Lund of the Church of Sweden. Beautiful rose bushes surround the garden of the Cathedral, in fact, beautiful rose gardens are virtually everywhere in this land, you constantly find yourself in enchanted gardens.
The first botanical garden that I visited was the beautiful garden of Sofiero, near the city of Helsingborg, which overlooks the sea in front of the town of Helsingor, famous for Hamlet's castle. The two cities are separated by the blue Øresund, the stretch of sea that divides Sweden from Denmark. This land is depicted as a rainy, dark and gloomy place, but going there in the summer, it seems really hard to believe. The long days of sunlight illuminate the beautiful lawn of Sofiero Castle, built in 1864 by the Crown Prince Oscar for his wife Sofia. The Swedes are keen that the gardens are well maintained and open to everyone, so that every citizen can enjoy their peace and tranquillity.
The next stop was Ahus, a small and lovely town overlooking a canal, known for the production of a worldwide famous vodka. I can’t deny that here, my fantasy as a photographer, after a little too many vodka shots (the hotel owner made us try every flavour of vodka produced) became rather dark. At the centre of the town was a small, but very well kept cemetery, of those with the church with the big red sloping roofs and perfect tombstones. I find cemeteries very fascinating especially the Nordic ones. So, one night, photographing the town, I decided to go in with my travelling partner, who was also a photographer. While I was smoking a cigarette, we had the idea of photographing a tombstone with my hand coming out from behind making a mist effect with the cigarette smoke, but just as my friend was about to shoot, my phone warned me that I had received a message saying: "You have a message." The face of my photographer friend was filled with terror, he couldn’t understand where the voice came from, but he knew very well it wasn’t mine!
Among beautiful gardens and beautiful natural landscapes, where the architecture blends harmoniously with nature, we arrived in Kivik, a small town of only 1000 inhabitants, famous for its production of herrings, apples and cider.
There are apple orchards everywhere and when we stopped to buy some, to my amazement, I noticed that the tables were made of recycled tetra pack. The Scandinavians really know how to make good use of all the resources at their disposal.
The last stop was in Ystad, known for its harbour, but even more so for its Inspector Wallander, a character loved by many readers. The church of Saint Peter is worth a visit as well as the monastery. Walking through the streets of the town is very pleasant for its simple Nordic architecture showing beams on the walls of the houses and cobbled stones paving the floors in a herringbone pattern. I just can’t imagine this sunny and fresh place in winter, but I must return one day to appreciate the difference.
The journey continues towards Copenhagen on 19 June!