24.09.2009 - 24.09.2009
The Amalfi Coast is a destination that leaves you changed, leaves you better somehow, your senses more attuned to the world around you.
I loved the sights of Italy: beautifully decayed buildings the color of fresh honey, the dramatic landscape, the bright green of ivy climbing on everything it can gain passage to and blanketing the world under its delicate green fingers, the sparkling cobalt blue of the sea changing into endless shades of blue and green as the sun moves across the sky, bright pink bougainvillea climbing an orange wall, wonderfully wrinkled faces smiling at you as you pass.
I loved the sounds of Italy: children laughing in the rose colored sunset as they play soccer in the piazza, the tinkling bells of the pebbles as the waves push and pull them with the tide, the lyrical language of a farmer turning the simple spoken word into music-like poetry, the strings of a classical guitar played softly in the night.
I loved the smells of Italy: the bright smell of a fresh lemon in my hands, the scent of garlic and basil drifting out of an open window, the warm and delicious smell of fresh bread, the salty breeze blowing off the waves, fresh flowers and rosemary shrubs waving by the side of a trail, wood fires baking crispy pizzas in the evening.
I loved the touch of Italy: the soft fur of a kitten walking the streets of Ravello, the bumpy thick peel of a lemon or the smoothness of a shiny olive leaf, a rough stone wall as I rub my hand across it’s ancient surface, the cold splash of water pouring out of a fountain in the piazetta, the crisp refreshing bite of the sea as I plunge into her blue-black depths.
I loved the taste of Italy: the salty water of the sea on my lips, the pungent flavor of a fresh bite of parmesan cheese in a small market, the sweet softness of a ripe fig picked from a tree, the richness of tangy tomato sauce made in the kitchen by Mama Netta, the sweet fire of a lingering sip of limoncello.
Don’t get me wrong, there are things I won’t miss. I won’t miss those damn scooters, cutting in front of the car, whizzing by at maddening speeds. Or the impatient drivers, honking at you as you try to scrape past a tour bus on a one lane road. I won’t miss the twisting little streets that make finding anything nearly impossible or the lack of signs to help you get there. I definitely won’t miss the seatless toilets. Really, what do the Italians have against toilet seats? On my first day, I was very delicate, balancing carefully, doing my best to hover above the porcelain, my legs quivering with the effort. After a bottle of wine and a bottle of water, however, delicacy went out the window and the seatless toilet and I became ONE. I never did like them though. Nor did I became a fan of the super hard Italian beds.
I will miss the Italian people. I learned in my short 10 days that they are kind and gracious. Their hearts are big and have plenty of room for strangers. They love to eat, but even more, they love to feed you. I learned that they eat slow and drive fast. They are hardworking when it is time to work but know when it is time to stop. They are warm and generous. They are people as beautiful as the striking landscape in which they live.
I am adjusting to being back in the “real world.” My body has finally realized that we are back to only 3 meals a day and they rarely involve cheese, bread, or sugar. The daily pizza is missed, as is the bottle of wine at lunch and dinner, but the six pounds they packed onto me in 2 weeks have been shed. My legs have lost their mountain goat status without having 1,000 steps to climb and descend each day and I no longer wake up expecting the sunlight to be bouncing off a rose colored stucco wall climbing with vines.
Already, though, I find that I am left with a persistent longing for that slow and uncomplicated way of life, like a perennial hunger pang for something simple and delicious. I hope that because of it I am a little more patient, a little more gracious, a little more appreciative of the simple pleasures around me every day.
And forever, when I smell the sweet cloying scent of pink day lilies, I will be transported back to a slower pace, a sweeter place, a moment in time that is the Amalfi Coast.