Lorenzo Riccardi is an Italian traveller, who has visited every country in the world and he is the founder of 200-economies.com. You can know more about him on his personal website, lorenzoriccardi.com.
What are three of your favourite countries, and why?
My favourite three countries are on three different continents: Oceania, Africa, and Europe.
In Oceania, I consider Kiribati one of the most beautiful countries in the world. It is remote, tiny, and pure—a paradise difficult to reach and full of beauty, a symbol of climate change and geopolitics. Most people do not know its name and location on the world map.
In Africa, I choose Eritrea, which I visited travelling from Cairo to Asmara, probably the most beautiful city in Africa and a hidden gem in the horn of Africa. It is a cultural world heritage inscribed in the UNESCO list.
In Europe, I like the micro-states that tell us the ancient time of city-states, and I consider San Marino the most special. It is the only European small state that never had a king or a prince, and it is the oldest republic in the world.
I suggest visiting on September 3rd, the national day, seeing the medieval games or the day of the appointment of the heads of state on October 1st. On April 1st, two Captains Regents are appointed for six months rotating role with the same rule of the Roman Republic to balance the power in two different persons.
What are three of your favourite travel moments, and why?
First time travelling to China
In 2004 I travelled for the first time to China, visiting Yunnan, then crossing the border with Laos to reach Vientiane and Bangkok with a 60-hour bus trip in South East Asia. After that trip, I decided to travel every time I could and then moved to Shanghai.
Reaching the base camp of peak Lenin
In 2011, during a horse trekking with two friends in Kirgizstan, we reached the base camp of peak Lenin, the easiest 7000 metres peak in the world. At that moment, I decided to travel to every country in Europe and in Asia that are the continents where I come from and where I live, but I did not expect to be able to plan to visit the entire world.
Visiting the last country
On January 3rd, 2020, just before the pandemic, I landed in Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago, and that was the last country on my United Nations list. That day, watching the sunset from the hills with the sea and city view was remarkable. I had all the 193 countries visited just in front of me.
What are three of your worst travel moments, and why?
Realised the danger of travelling in Yemen
In Yemen, travelling with my friend Fabio Cao, we had a bad experience because we travelled for 18 hours deep into the eastern region of the country entering from Oman. We understood that the agent who organized our visa and driver put us in an area too exposed to risks of kidnapping or violence.
Deported from Rwanda
In Rwanda, landing at the airport of Kigali, I was rejected by the immigration because I did not fill in an online form prior to the arrival, and I was sent back on a “deported” way by the airline. Also, Ethiopia did not allow me to re-enter the country, and I had to fly to a third new country Kenya to fix that situation. After that, I travelled multiple times to Rwanda without any visa issue, and it is now one of my favourite countries.
Fear of visiting Afghanistan
In Dubai, just after obtaining my visa for Afghanistan, I read on the news that Taliban forces attacked Kabul’s airport with 14 rockets, where I was supposed to land in a few hours. I called the hotel, who confirmed that the risk situation was similar at any moment of the year, especially when there are trips of foreign politicians or special festivals, so I decided to travel and visit the capital for a few days. I travelled safely back home and started to monitor the news about Afghanistan more often; attacks and bombs, unfortunately, are a routine in the country.
What are three of your favourite cities, and why?
My favourite cities are Shanghai, Cairo, and Sarajevo
Shanghai represents the future and the modernity and speed of Asia. It is the place where I spent 15 years and where I enjoy living and work.
Cairo represents the past, the history of the world civilization and one of the most beautiful cultural heritage sites on the earth.
Sarajevo represents the mix of culture, language, and religions that we can experience even in Europe in the exotic Balkan region.
Do you have a future travel goal?
My next travel goals are to travel all world heritage cultural and natural sites of China, including the UNESCO list (55 sites) and tentative UNESCO list (60 sites), to be able to write a guide on China as a cultural superpower. After the pandemic, my goal is to circumnavigate the world overland.