If you are looking for me, I went away, one step after another. By foot, up to the border.
Because when someone runs away from what they used to love, they always run away slowly.
Troppo facile amarti in vacanza is a graphic novel by Italian comic artist Giacomo Bevilacqua, already known for his comic series A panda piace. Published in May 2021 by Bao Publishing, it follows the journey of young protagonist Linda as she attempts to flee an Italian dystopia while bringing along only her backpack, her strong will, and her dog Follia (Madness).
This adventure has all the elements of a fairy tale paired with a blunt critique of the present world. The reader is faced with an unusual apocalypse where nature reigns supreme, in a green scenery that feels almost peaceful. A stark contrast with other Italian dystopias, such as the gritty futuristic setting of Alberto Ponticelli‘s graphic novel Blatta. This specific depiction represents the author’s personal way to call out the current state of things, bound to spark reflection.
On the run from the apocalypse
Bevilacqua plunges the reader into the start of Troppo facile amarti in vacanza. The reader finds themselves in a near but unspecified future where Italy has been conquered by nature and abandoned by most people. However, what soon becomes apparent is that the true dystopian element lies not in the overgrown plants that cover the Coliseum nor the waters that submerge Ferrara. It is in the corruption of the ideals, which drove away most people and poisoned the minds of those who stayed.
The issues tackled, like corruption, racism, ignorance, and violence will be sure to resonate with contemporary times. And in the graphic novel, their take over was all but a sudden one. This apocalypse happened slowly, so gradually that people barely realized what was happening before it was too late. An atmosphere similar to comics such as I Kill Giants, where elements that border on fantasy disrupt the ordinary world. This proximity makes it easier to sympathize with Linda’s motivations and inner conflict as she leaves Rome behind. Her heart is filled with both love and hate for the country that she once called home and that no longer feels hers, a turmoil shared with the homonymous protagonist of the Italian series Anna by Niccolò Ammaniti.
The shades of corruption in Troppo facile amarti in vacanza
Each chapter explores one of the many issues that plague this Italy, one for each of the seven deadly sins. Said sins incarnate in the bizarre and often wicked characters that block the protagonist’s path. Linda will have to face them to move on, not unlike in Dante‘s journey through the infernal circles.
Thus the reader becomes acquainted with the corruption that permeates this future. From the envy of the women segregated at home by law, to the greed of the man who bought Florence off the Internet and has it painted black to mark it as his own. From the sloth of the lady who ignores the effects of the flood to lounge on her yacht, to the pride of the president who went mad with power and believes himself to be a god.
Even Linda represents a sin of her own, wrath. The very sentiment that is driving her away from it all but from which she cannot escape. Therefore this on-the-road adventure becomes an inner journey to acknowledge and ultimately overcome anger. An achievement that wouldn’t be possible without Aman, co-protagonist of the story and embodiment of hope.
A warning to the present future
Bevilacqua’s narration is straightforward despite the comic relying on moments of silence, with the unique accompaniment of a musical soundtrack. In fact, each chapter begins with an artist and a relative song, for the reader to enjoy during the read, from the post-punk opening of The Sound’s I can’t escape myself to the indie-pop notes of Alice by Dieciunitàsonanti. It’s a recurring element from his previous graphic novel The sound of the world by heart which creates a fully immersive experience.
Through this unique narrative style, the author gives a voice to his indignation at reality, shaping a pessimistic vision of the modern world that is difficult not to relate to. Its warning is that the problems depicted to such an extreme in it are all but imaginary. There is a strong underlying concern towards the bigoted ideas that find more and more traction it today’s society. Especially towards the way they drive away those who could make a difference. A theme he also explored in his short series Attica, even if from an urban-fantasy perspective.
This is the moment where the theme of vacation becomes relevant. For a break is often needed when reality becomes unbearable, but turning one’s back on problems is seldom a solution. It can give, though, the time needed to acknowledge one’s own role in the world. Troppo facile amarti in vacanza by Bevilacqua reminds the reader that it is never too late to make a difference, nor to find reasons to go back instead of leaving.