Friday, 4 September 2015

I Was Too Busy Falling in Love in August to Blog... Ti Amo Italia


This is not a travelogue or an account of a holiday, it is a love letter and I haven’t written many of those.

I didn’t realise it would happen like this. I thought only romantics fell in love with you. Carb-sluts, middle-aged divorced women, those who fall in amore all the time like I would like to, perfectly turned out men - gay and straight, people who pick Romeo and Juliet as their favourite Shakespeare play. 

I’d been to Florence before twelve years ago and two years ago, and she had already flirted with my mind and my spirit. But I was there both times with my greatest friends in the world and I could be anywhere with them and soar with laughter and a satisfied soul. So I think I ignored it a little. I ignored the feeling walking the streets gave me, the calmness and yet awe I felt in the presence of the great religious architecture. My affinity in the worship of coffee.

And then I went back there and slowly it crept up on me.

I flew into Rome. And Rome airport was a nightmare. My bags took ages and the airport was dirty and disorganised, I did not love it. Leaving Rome to transfer directly three hours away, I did not see much of the city. I still haven’t felt your pleasure Roma.

And then it got good. For the following two weeks I travelled from islands to coastline in wide-eyed joy. I went to Elba, Giglio, Capri, Amalfi, Ischia and Naples. The much-praised coast of the middle-west of Italy deserves all the tomes in its praise.

We spent our days exploring the architecture, like the great Castello Aragonese in Ischia, with its 2500 years of History and the Cathedral of Amalfi. We dripped with sweat from the August heat, paper capes over our vulgar British shoulders, absorbing the relics and art of Catholicism. We climbed the hills and lanes of Capri revelling in the buildings and alleys where a little secret pocket of aesthetic joy may be round any corner. We drank the coffee, all the coffee and exclaimed at the value. This could be blood here as with the French and their wine.

I flounced around in linen that I bought cheaply in backstreet shops, twirling skirts and choppy dresses and bright corals and oranges. I flirted with the boys, smiled at the girls and became accustomed to their wilful, joyful gazes. I smoked too many cigarettes blaming the Euro for the price.
I ate the gelato once, resisted and then gave in to its reputation. I went for a run up the hills of Ischia marvelling at the coastline and dodging blossoms. In Naples, dusty and mother of pizza, the buildings called out to me with their balconies I ached to hang over dreamily.

When I came home, I felt sick and London chilled me, even though I love her.

You see I am a dreamer, but I’m sarcastic and I’m spiritual rather than emotional. I never thought I’d appreciate the raw Italian love of pleasure; from their lunchtime pasta to their greetings, to their rolling vowels. In their love affairs, in their art and fashion, they are there, they are present and they are not afraid to show how happy this makes them. In my lifetime, I have loved many a city, many a place from London to Hong Kong, New York and Cornwall. However now, age 29, I have a sneaky suspicion that I want my love affair with Italy to continue. And I will find a way for it to happen, first perhaps by attempting that tempting tongue.

Ciao Italia, for now.

*I've put a load more of photos below... because I took so many and it is so beautiful there, I want to share it...

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