Seven degrees at 8:30am, and warm in the sun.
When I first came as a full-time card-carrying resident to Carmine Superiore, the war in Iraq was just beginning. The airwaves were loaded, indeed, overloaded, with claim and counter-claim, Bush and Saddam, WMD real and imaginary.
One of the most potent images in those days was the rainbow flag bearing the word pace, peace. As I travelled to and fro from Carmine to Milan, from Milan to London and back again, I saw dozens of them - colourful, hopeful - draped from buildings ancient and modern, grand and humble. And every time I returned to my new home, I was greeted by Carmine's own contribution to the rainbow protest, hanging from a disused building right on the lake.
As the invasion went ahead and the killing began, the flags continued to flutter in the wind, steadfastly proclaiming a peace that could still be. When Baghdad was taken and Saddam finally executed, most of the flags gradually vanished. Carmine's, though, remained, and as month followed month, year followed year, people continued to die on both sides, and Carmine's flag and the building it flew from became ever more ragged.
Today, this is what you see when you arrive in Carmine Inferiore...
After seven years, Iraq, the cradle of civilisation, lies in tatters, just like Carmine's rainbow flag, and the sadly derelict building it adorns.
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