Fairytales & Architecture

The story is inspired by Italo Calvino’s “Invisible Cities”, whose prose explores the travels of Marco Polo. It is an optimistic version of Calvino’s fictional game: The self-reflective descriptions of 55 fantastical cities from Polo’s explorations. Our protagonist is a citizen of a modern city, an intellectual, who in his youth left his home country chasing after his quest for knowledge. He is an immigrant – like Calvino – who seeks a home away from home. “M” – his mentor and our tribute to the explorer, Marco Polo – becomes his interlocutor; the person who guides him on the journey.


Our main character wakes up in his apartment in the western world, finding a note from M. The scroll contains a quote from Paracelsus, and a drawing of a hidden city. In an attempt to find a place of belonging, he follows his curiosity, delving into the unknown. Soon he realizes that the elusive, ideal city is not found in his achievements or social recognition. It is rather a version of his pure self, who could dream, love and be loved. The “honest" place of his childhood innocence. His home.

Curio_city / first drafts

Curio_city / final illustrations

© Thalia Maria Bitha
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©2021 by Thalia Maria Bitha