My encounter with the imperial city of Fez has been quite direct.
Imagine a wave crashing on the rocks. Well, something like that.
Fez, in my itinerary in Morocco, came immediately after the silence and peace of the desert. After days spent in the middle of nowhere. You can see that I suddenly had to reconnect with the complex and chaotic Moroccan world. It wasn’t easy at all.
From being the only car on the street, I went from not knowing which way to look, who to give priority to. Shall I stop? I’ll go first, you’ll go first, no wait, it’s his turn. I mean, it was a brisk return to stress, and finding a parking spot wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped.
In the hustle and bustle of Fez I managed to find a parking space in front of the Gare Routiére Principal, 100 dirhams for 2 nights… was it authorized or not? I honestly don’t know but given the stress of the Fez traffic, I didn’t think twice about turning the car off.
Visiting Fez in Morocco
Fez in Morocco doesn’t seem to have filters, the medina draws you in, you could spend months and months in its labyrinthine alleys. Yet, life flows frenetically inside it. Everyone, except the tourists, knows their own street, their own destination, their own little door to enter.
The first piece of advice I would like to give you is to ask, perhaps at your hotel, for an official guide to help you discover the city in complete tranquillity.
Fez is a fascinating labyrinth, getting lost takes a moment. It is a city to understand. To comprehend little by little without having to stop every 5 seconds to look at a map. It should be enjoyed in all its neighborhoods with someone who knows how to tell you anecdotes, curiosities and glimpses of everyday life. I am convinced that many places can be visited without a guide, but in others the guide is not only necessary but also an added value. And for Fez it is a double added value.
This time I won’t go into detail about what to see or what to do. I think Fez is better to be interpreted and admired.
In the medina of Fez you can find everything. It is an ecosystem in itself, like Marrakech but more caotic. Consider that the father of our guide has always lived inside the walls.
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In order to try to understand Fez you have to walk through its alleys paying attention to the various donkeys (the most used means of transport) and visit the various craft areas. The one where they work the wood, that of the knife-grinders, fabrics, fish, fruit. Each area has its own characteristic. And so, walking around through the various alleys, you can do nothing but rely on your guide and appreciate all the peculiarities of Fez.
A tour at the tanneries
One of the most interesting places in Fez is undoubtedly the area of the Chouara tanneries. Here the people treat the skins with the use of natural dyes.
Here, every day the various workers immerse themselves in the various pools and process the skins. To see the tanneries just climb up one of the balconies.
At that height you can already smell the stench, although thanks to the mint sprig it is quite bearable. The balconies are obviously the back of the leather goods shops, all beautiful and of extreme quality and obviously all for sale. However, I did not feel like buying anything, I did not want to feed an activity related to killing animals.
Two words on Fez
I really liked Fez in all its aspects, even the most extreme ones. I will always remember the evening i arrived in the medina.
We left the hotel and went to the first stall where they sell all kinds of things. I ask for some bread and the guy hands me 1 sandwich for 1 dirham. At that point I ask if he has any cheese, the usual, ever-present soft cheese in aluminum foil. He takes the bread, cuts it in half and starts unwrapping the cheese.
The first one’s all right, the second one falls on the floor, next to his feet. Well, I said to myself, let’s hope he will throw it away. No, he looks at it and after a completely questionable quality analysis he puts it in my sandwich. I was speechless. He spreads it. I’m getting more and more stunned. He hands me the bread. End of this sad story.
Well, that’s what happens on the road, of course I didn’t eat the sandwich, but this will always be a story worth telling. That’s also why we travel, our memories grow and sometimes we think back and smile.
I usually identify the various cities with things to see, but not with Fez, no. With Fez will always be a mixture of memories and feelings and, maybe, sometimes, it will be much much better this way.