So, where was I?
It's been long, too long. I've been hoping for some internet time that would let me pull you into a sidewalk cafe to tell you all about it over a dark espresso. Italy, sun-dazzled Italy.
Here is my citrus-infused promise that all the sweetness we gathered from Tuscany and Rome and the coasts of Italy will be coming (and then on to the lowlands of Europe where we are presently sitting in sleekness and simplicity, sliding along canals and eating brown breads.)
For now, come onto the train with us from Sorrento to Florence. I was there, writing, and here you go, a week later.
We are moving past yellow homes with orange tile roofs under the tuscan clouds, which are high and thick and wide, balancing on the blue triangular hills. Olive trees squat, smoke clouds in the air here and there, and sun seeps through from a blue slat in the clouds and comes down to make patches of grass neon green on a hill somewhere. It’s hard to write when there is so much pressing down on my fingers that all wants to pour out at once, like the waterfalls bulging from the rains yesterday, the rivulets piling up in stone corridors running off from spaces between cobblestones.
We have been in Italy three days. It is hard to sum: the cobalt tiles and the paint falling off geometric buildings in swatches, the towers standing on cliffs, the happy twirl of the language that winds its way around stone corners, over flocks of pigeons, and into pasticerrias piled with ricotta and pera (pear) pastries. Italy is slow, inefficient, and falling apart, but somehow, the muted colors and the drama of rock cliffs sliced off to show white hotels and bridges of roman arches stuck onto the precipices like felt to a board, the terraced hills of fruit trees just go to show that inefficiency can be refreshing, and it can be necessary.
We're passing a sage pond, the trees like the ones I imagine on safaris, with one thin trunk supporting fat pillows of dark green needles, making a walkway for the birds high up in the air, towns grouped in valleys below.
Sorrento and the Amalfi coast sit on the southwest coast of Italy. Sorrento is a tourist Riviera of gelato shops and palm trees and smooth-faced hotels with balconies and dark green shutters, and shops with shoes and umbrellas and silk scarves. We stayed three nights in the Antiche Mura hotel, complete with a pool surrounded by lemon and pink flowering trees, a breakfast with (I kid you not) 30 plates of cookies and fresh orange juice (plus all the Italian meats, cheeses, and pastries). Bon appetit on repeat!
Buon giorno, hotel garden!
My memories of this airy place will be piled with foods. Vaniglia sorrentina (vanilla lemon peel gelato). Pizza, famous from the nearby Napoli (neopolitan) with a light soft crust and pure sauce. Gnocchi.
Lemons the size of softballs, and churches swarming with mystique and relics, brilliant flowers planted everywhere.
There was so, so much more. There are times in Europe when I’m hobbling over huge stones and thinking “I learned about this, I did”. Pompei, the Collosseum, the Roman Forum, Michaelangelo's David . . . all of these in all their grand, chiseled glory are coming, in time. But for now, I'm taking the quiet walks in the sun licking pastel gelato as stores close for the evening, and preserving them in a big bottle of limoncello, and sending it in the mail to you.
We had a beautiful trip, and now we can take a deep whiff of new memories. There is something about savoring memories for the first time while they are sharp and fresh that I love.
Arrivederci, Italia! Buon giorno, memories!