Besslema – Au revoir – Goodbye Tunisia!

It is time to go: two years have passed and consequently it’s time for leaving Tunisia and starting the Marie Curie IOF return phase in Italy.
I know it can sound rhetorical but it seems like it was only yesterday that I was landing in Sfax with my backpack and a suitcase full of books, ready to start my Bir Al-Nas project.

Gare de Sfax

Gare de Sfax (V. Re, 2013)

First visit to the Medina of Sfax (T. Lovato, 2013)

I am really happy that I had the opportunity to live and work in this beautiful country. Thanks to all the ENIS-LRAE colleagues, Prof. Zouari, Dr. Trabelsi, Dr. Chkir, Ms. Kammoun and all the girls of the laboratory, this experience has been incredibly fruitful from the scientific point of view!
In this blog I wrote many times about my working experience (and I so I will continue doing in future) but this time I’d like to talk about something different. In fact, besides for having worked in a very stimulating environment I am also sincerely grateful that I could discover a beautiful country and its extraordinary culture! In the same way I love science (and groundwater) I really love travelling, so here I would like to share some experiences and favourite places of a passionate traveller living in Tunisia!

Sidi Bou Said

Sidi Bou Said is definitely my favourite place in the country. This small city is simply charming and enchanting! Not surprisingly it is a famous tourist attraction, well known for its typical street with white walls, blue window shades, and the numerous art galleries.

Sidi Bou Said rooftop view (V. Re, 2015)

Despite being very touristy, Sidi Bou Said is the perfect place where to spend few days enjoying the delicious Tunisian food and teas (not only in the very famous Café des Nattes), walking around in its labyrinth of winding streets and contemplating the beautiful view of the Gulf of Tunis.

As night falls, and the village is returned to its residents, the feet-polished street glistens even more brightly in the moonlight – leaking like a milky river into the shadows of the stairwells and alleyways that cluster below the mosque. Grey cats haunt the roadsides. The birds in the orange trees go silent. And the evening air floods the still-bustling bars and cafés with the familiar drowsy fumes of jasmine, the village’s sacred flower. At such moments, the village seems lost in time. (Independent.co.uk)

Tozeur and the mountain oasis

Tozeur is the first place I’ve visited during my first trip to Tunisia in 2010, and I immediately felt in love with this beautiful city.  Located in the south-west of Tunisia, Tozeur is based around a large oasis famous for its palm trees, delicious dates, and the proximity with the mountain oasis of Chebika, Tamerza and Midès.

Mountain oasis of Chebika (V. Re, 2014)

Tozeur, known as the door of the desert of Tunisia, is the perfect place to for discovering the Sahara and the Chott el Djerid, and to appreciate the traditional culture including its peculiar architectural style characterized by yellow/brownish brickwork and fascinating buildings façades in geometric designs.

Minaret in Tozeur as a typical brickwork of the region (V.Re, 2014)

Tataouine, Medenie and the southern region

Medenine (V. Re, 2015)

Ghorfa complex in Medenine (V. Re, 2015)

The south-eastern part of Tunisia is a pure mixture of culture and amazing landscapes.
Tataouine and Medenine are perhaps the most famous places where to discover a bit more of the fascinating Berber (Amazigh) culture and have a look at the beautiful ksour (fortified granaries) of the region, like Ksar Ouled Soltane.
Without doubts Chenini and Douiret also worth a visit, maybe at sunset when the light add extra charm to the landscapes.

Chenini (V. Re, 2014)

Chenini (V. Re, 2014)

Mahdia

According to many people Madhia has the best beaches of Tunisia…what do you think?

Mahdia

Madhia (V. Re, 2014)

Cap Bon & Hammamet

Cap Bon, and especially the region of Grombalia, holds a special place in my heart. Not only because this region is where we are testing Bir Al-Nas, but also this is the place where I had the opportunity to meet so many nice people during  all the field works.

It is impressive how people can be welcoming and happy to share what they have with you.

Grombalia Region: activities and groundwater issues (V. Re, 2015)

Of course if you are in the Cap Bon region, why not to stop in Nabeul, the  pottery capital of Tunisia, and Hammamet for a stroll in the medina and the corniche?

Hammamet (V. Re, 2014)

I will always have good memories of Cap Bon (here some travel notes), and I really hope to have the opportunity to discover new sides of the region in future!

Tabarka

Located in the north-western part of Tunisia, close to the border with Algeria, Tabarka is a beautiful coastal city, famous for the Genoese Fort and the rocky coast with its sandy beaches and the crystal-clear waters: a destination that definitely worth a visit.

Tabarka (V. Re, 2014)

Sfax

I know this is not the top favourite place for tourist, but I definitely suggest a stop here to experience the real life of local people. The medina is absolutely amazing and here life and business go on much as they have for years (and where tourists, although welcome, are few and far between). As a side note, the Sfax medina (in particular, the Souq des Forgerons  near Bab Jebli) was the set of some scenes of “The English patient”.

Sfax (C. Tringali 2014)

Of course, once here you also have to try the typical Sfaxian fish soup and fish couscous (apparently the best of the country), and to take some time for a trip to El Jem and the Kerkennah Islands.

Kerkennah Islands (V. Re 2014)

Of course the list could be even longer, but I also think that wherever you will decide to go you will find a lot of nice people, always happy to talk to you and to introduce you to the Tunisian culture, good food, interesting historical settings and beautiful landscapes!

Barak allahou fik Tunsia, and besslema!

Photos Re Viviana

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