The invisible Cities | Italo Calvino

cities and eyes - pg 53

The invisible Cities | Italo Calvino

cities and desire - pg 45

The invisible Cities | Italo Calvino

trading cities - pg 36



The traveler, arriving, sees two cities: one erect above the lake, and the other reflected, upside down. Nothing exists or happens in the one Valdrada that the other Valdrada does not repeat, because the city was so constructed that its every point would be reflected in its mirror.. At times the mirror increases a thing's value, at times denies it. Not everything that seems valuable above the mirror maintains its force when mirrored. The twin cities are not equal, because nothing that exists or happens in Valdrada is symmetrical, they live for each other, their eyes interlocked; but there is no love between them.


From there, you arrive at Zobeide, the white city, well exposed to the moon, with streets wound about themselves as in a skein. It was told its founders were men of various nations who had an identical dream: they saw a woman running at night through an unknown city; she was seen from behind, with long hair, and dreamt of pursuing her. After the dream, they never found the city, but they found one another. This was the city of Zobeide, where they settled, waiting for that scene to be repeated one night. None of them, asleep or awake, ever saw the woman again..New men arrived from other lands, having had a dream like theirs, in the city of Zobeide. The first to come could not understand what drew these people to Zobeide, this ugly city, this trap. 


Euphemia, where the merchants of seven nations gather at every solstice and equinox. The boat that lands there with a cargo of ginger and cotton will set sail again, its hold filled with pistachio nuts and poppy seeds. You do not come to Euphemia only to buy and sell, but also because at night, by the fires all around the market, at each word that one man says, the others tell, each one, his tale.. And you know that in the long journey ahead of you, when to keep awake against the camel's swaying, you start summoning up your memories one by one, on your return from Euphemia, the city where memory is traded at every solstice and at every equinox.


In Esmeralda, city of water, a network of canals and a network of streets span and intersect each other. To go from one place to another you have always the choice between land and boat. Esmeralda is not a straight line but a zigzag that ramifies in tortuous optional routes. the network of routes is not arranged on one level, but follows instead an up-and-down course of steps, landings, cambered bridges, hanging streets. 

The invisible Cities | Italo Calvino

trading cities - pg 88