In Italy


In Italy we awoke most days at dawn’s first light, watching as it tendered itself slowly through the skylight of our loft, sometimes offering preview of the gentle pink tints of the coming sunrise on a passing cloud.

 

We’d lay in bed until certain this pink punctuation against the still dark sky was turning the tide of light over dark and then rose to make espresso and watch the full effects of the sunrise as it began anointing the top of the mountains across the lake with tangerine and rosy hues.

Some mornings I awaken with words in mind, mostly in English but, since arriving, occasionally Italian as well. I usually don’t know where these words come from but liked to lay in a little longer in order to trace their outline in cursive in the air, reminding myself to check their definitions later and to see if any meaning is to be found there…

Italy is a lavish feast for the senses in numerous ways, one good example being Spremuta di Arance Rosse, or Blood Orange juice. I’d like to nobly state that I’m glad to have never found it outside of Italy as it makes it all the more precious when able to procure, but, then I’d be lying. I’d like to be seated in front of a big ol’ glass of it right now. With it’s beautiful rosse (think lava!) color, it is liquid citrus beauty in a glass. It’s name tickles the ear (“spray-mooota aran-chay…), I want to swim in the wilds of its color and revel in its fantastic nothing-but-pure-juice flavor. This was a gift I showered on myself whenever possible while there…

Life on the lake was often slow to awaken, but we watched as the ferry boats slowly made their way across the water each morning to begin another day.

                            

Our apartment had 5 large windows that faced the lake, one that looked northward up the lake towards Switzerland and the stately Grand Hotel Tremezzo, and another that overlooked the grape arbor of the Cantina next door and looked southward down lake towards Como. All of these windows opened like doors and were without screens, which allowed for beautiful, uninterrupted views as well as helping to invite the sounds and animation of the lake and surrounding neighborhood inside. I loved hearing the Cantina swing into gear at night, glasses clinking above the buzz of voices in high spirits, the terrace and night air filled with the happy sounds of laughter and camaraderie.

One of our neighbors kept a parrot which we never actually saw, but in the early mornings we could hear it practicing a rooster call. Later in the day it might imitate the dogs that lived nearby or say a few words but  it wasn’t overly chatty, as some birds are.

It was 97 steps from the lakefront to our front door, half of these could be taken on any number of mostly small and somewhat narrow stairwells that offered a variety of doors to homes and small businesses and that led up to the cobble-stoned passageway that thread itself behind the main street and led to mostly residential entries, ours included.

 

The rest of the steps were taken on the 5 flights within our building.

When we first arrived our legs burned with the effort and we would need to take short rests on our way to the top, but after several days of climbing these steps multiple times each day, we became as steady and surefooted as mountain goats, and took delight in climbing steep passages anywhere we encountered them around the lake.

On our walks along the lakefront every day we would pass couples strolling and groups let off from touring buses to visit Villa Carlotta, a stately home built for a Marquis in 1745 and now a museum and botanical garden, past waiters in their formal white uniforms on their way to work at the Grand Hotel and also encountered the newest arrivals to the lake as they walked up the ramp from the ferry boat heavily laden with luggage but with widened eyes, astonished by the surrounding beauty. These were my favorites as we also felt the wonder at being in such incredible surroundings and this never lessened during our time there. We walked alongside the lake every day and every day there was still a fresh excitement to experience it again and to take pictures of the same beautiful things probably taken admiringly the day before.

In Italy the days passed (too quickly). The ferries ferried, beauty enveloped, we ate. No return to our “normal” life could be imagined after days full of life and love of time, place and each other. We are different there. We walk, many miles each day and we talk, much more than we are able to at home. We took note of our incredible enthusiasm and positivity and wonder for life and days and vowed to remind ourselves once home of all that exists in the world and all that is possible. Everything seems possible.

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