La Dolce Vita
Per my mother’s request, more on Italy.
(She’s more than right, one needs to take the time to commit to document such a wonderful place as Italy)
Or perhaps, more on the Amalfi coast and Rome, because those were without a doubt my two favorite cities. the Amalfi highway as treacherous of a higher to drive on, if the drive between Bologna to Florence hadn’t eked it out. The roads could not have been more than 4 meters across, and on one side steep dynamite blasted hills, and on the other a daunting view of what it would mean to not pay perfect attention to the road. And then those on their vespas whipping about from small town to small town as if were nothing at all. I am fairly certain that my father’s knuckles were white and locked from gripping the wheel so hard. The view however, was unprecedented. And without match in what I can only believe to be the entire planet. Photos would not do the place justice, as the Mediterranean sea is a shade of blue so blue and so perfectly not-so-warm-not-so-cold that it is neigh irresistible to not want to swim in it.
The sea might also account for the size of the lemons we found in Sorrento. At first we thought them plastic, or perhaps simply a fluke, but Sorrento is as much the land of lemons as Florida the land of oranges, and their lemons grow large and yellow, and perhaps most delicious. The local are fond of selling a drink called ‘limoncello’ and while it is a little bit shocking to the palate, it leaves a clean after-taste and perhaps would mix well in some cocktails.
We however, opted for a beautiful ceramic pitcher – which I hope has found it’s way safely to the United States by now – blue as the Mediterranean and painted carefully with the Sorrento lemons.
The sea leaves salt in your hair that is difficult to wash out, and the sun beats down as we would wind along the natural curvature of the mountain climbing higher, higher in altitude and then the slow decent. We had quite an interesting moment where we were on what could only have been the last gasps of gasoline as we were tracing the coast line – 40 km never felt as long as it did just then – and asking locals where the one gas station was. I’m not sure what we would have done had our gasoline run out, because the shoulder of the lane was exactly 12cm. I’m not sure if there are other roads that a car can travel into the cities of the Amalfi coast, but as we were careful passing buses and the vespas that seemed to fly by with careless ease, I wonder if these cities are not really meant for those with a BMdoublepied (get it?) and perhaps a donkey.
And who and how the crazies were that decided that building houses up to the lip of the cliff was a good idea. Beautiful without a doubt, but I’m not entirely certain that I would like to be the one living there. It’s precarious, and although the view is unparalleled, I can’t say that I put too much faith in those mountains holding up eternally.
It was there too that I started to understand why the Italian football (that’s soccer to you folks back home) jerseys are blue. There has never been a bluer and clearer sky than in Italy, for it didn’t matter where in the boot we were, the sky was always the same crystal blue. I wonder if it rains at all in the summer time, or how the crops grow (lemons aside) because at least for the ten or so days that we were there, there wasn’t a cloud in sight. Great for those seeking a crispy tan, but I can’t imagine that farmers are too pleased for their crops.
In Rome you can barely go ten feet without running into some kind of Ancient Roman ruin, and there are fountains in every plaza – the Italians are fond of plazas – where the water runs cool and fresh on the same aqueducts that the ancients themselves used.
In the high heat the cats of the ruins are hiding somewhere, away from the noise of the tourists and the scald of the sun, but we were lucky enough to see a few of them as we came back from a night on the town, and the cats laying on the still warm pavement. Cats run the ruins, and they live in little colonies, and they are of every size, shape and color. The city of Rome loves their cats and dispatches vets to take care of these feral cats, and no one bothers them. It was such a special site and I can only imagine how many tunnels run underneath the city, much like the tunnels beneath the Colosseum.
The panthenon is a thing of beauty. How the dome catches the light and how even with all of todays technology nothing comes close in mathematical perfection and balance. It’s no wonder that even when Rome was ransacked that they left the panthenon in one piece. What a wonderful marvel. Even though the roads are a nightmare to drive on with cobblestone, pedestrians lining the would-be sidewalk, and one way streets, when we parked the car Rome opened up on a whole better level.
The high heat is only for the tourists, and the protesters we saw lining the streets with their flags against the privatization of water but at night the youth and the youthful at heart come out to play eating their gelato – we ate so much gelato it is INSANE – and singing completely off key. (I cannot say we were not party to this)
I wish we would have had more time in Rome, not to do the super touristy things – as we met a daughter-mother combo we would later run into in Florence by happenstance, but to simply get a chance to further sink into the life of the modern Romans.
They seem the people who enjoy life and enjoy to play the most. The EuroCup Italy game had a huge draw and when they won their game the crowd was cheering and clapping (they got sorely spanked by Spain in the final 0-4) because such is the pride for the “national” sport.
Tomorrow I leave for London and the weather I hear is as dreary and rainy as ever. There is a reason, I suppose for why the stereotype exsists.
I will not however let the weather dampen my mood.