The 13th century monastery of Noravank, a few km from Yerevan, capital of Armenia. From Italy to Armenia, you can fly via Frankfurt, Vienna or Paris, in around 4 hours (all photos from David Egui)
As the borders of the skies gradually open, it's finally worth travelling beyond the usual routes. To Transcaucasia, for instance, a corridor with geomorphologically unique features: west and east, it is enclosed by the two largest seas in the world (the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, the latter technically a lake); north and south, there are two gigantic mountain chains (Caucasus and the chain whose most important peak is the legendary Ararat).
Much more than a transitory land of passage between Russia and Turkey, Moscow and Teheran, the west and the ex-soviet republics, this magnetic region is a large plot worth a few weeks of visit. It is made of 3 countries that you can't really tell if it's best to consider as Europe or Asia: Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. The first is mostly Orthodox, the second Christian, the third Muslim. A summary of world and civilizations.
After visiting Georgia – the cradle of wine, as we said – we went to Armenia. Slightly larger than Piedmont and Valle d'Aosta put together, with less than 3 million inhabitants, of the three Transcaucasian countries this is the only one that has no access to the sea. But it reaches 4090 metres with Aragats and at 1900 there's the scenic Lake Sevan, the second tallest freshwater basin in the world (the first is Lake Titicaca, on the border between Peru and Bolivia).
His majesty Mount Ararat, which is in fact right after the border between Armenia and Turkey. Trivia fact: the border is guarded by Russian soldiers
Amphorae, an emblem of Armenian and Georgian wine
Echmiadzin Cathedral, in the western suburbs of Yerevan: the original layout is from 301 A.C. It's in the UNESCO World Heritage list
Drawings at the Machanents House. Armenian art is strongly tied to its Christian tradition
Manuscripts in ancient Armenian kept at Matenadaran, the library with over 17 thousand books and 300 thousand manuscripts
Ancient inscriptions in the monastery of Noravank
Tsaghkunk, a family dressed traditionally
Sevanavank, the majestic building from 1874 above lake Sevan, east of Yerevan. They first began to build it in 874, as an order of princess Mariam, daughter of Ashot, the king who reigned in the so-called "second golden age of Armenia", at the end of the first millennium
Zorats Karer, the so-called Stonehenge of Armenia. It's an imposing astronomic observatory made of 223 megaliths, built in the Bronze age on a plateau at 1770 metres. The landscape and the light are so intense it's like you're on another planet
The monastery of Tatev, built in the 9th Century in south-east Armenia. You can get there with the longest cable car in the world
Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso
Gabriele Zanatta’s opinion: on establishments, chefs and trends in Italy and the world
born in Milan, 1973, freelance journalist, coordinator of Identità Golose World restaurant guidebook since 2007, he is a contributor for several magazines and teaches History of gastronomy and Culinary global trends into universities and institutes.