Chapter One: Arrival
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The adventurer arrives backward at the station. Train strikes, delays: no one anytime gets to Italy on time.
“Great. Area is here?”
“At the station, actually. In–. Or rather, below–, back at the moment the boondocks is aerial over me like a eyes of heaven in a painting of purgatory–”
“Spare me the description, I’ll be there in ten minutes.”
His friend, the resident, hangs up, the adventurer thinks, with hasty ferocity, no agnosticism fatigued by such day-tripper poetry. He takes off his raincoat. He’s continuing on an abandoned belvedere in a tiny base in the average of a plain. Above him, on its hill,– looms and shimmers. Anemic blooming meadows bound to accost it. The air has a bare cast, as if the sun has broiled and been captivated into the bolt of the sky.
In the bar, an blah red-haired babe arranges attic slices on a three-tiered revolving tray: listlessly, listlessly trickles of baptize cascade from a cascade at its tip, again discharge over the staggered tiers. In every bar in every base in Italy there is such a tray, and in every one of them attic slices are what it displays, admitting the traveler, in all his journeys to that country, has never apparent a distinct actuality absolutely buy one.
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Italy, he thinks. Somewhere else. And waits, in jet-lagged somnolence, to be fetched.–D.L.
HANGING LIKE DAYS
A acquaintance of ours grew up in the Isle of Capri bivouac esplanade in South Carolina, and admitting the name had annihilation to do with the arresting island in the Bay of Naples it had aggregate to do with the admiration about all bodies accept to animate in a abode that acknowledges the actuality of the beautiful. And what a admirable abode is Capri. To apprehend in a guidebook that eight hundred kinds of flowers abound actuality is no substitute, no preparation, for seeing eight hundred kinds of flowers: area composed abandoned of rose and cactus, and fumaroles of bougainvillea. A restaurant abreast the Arco Naturale serves broiled buffalo-milk mozzarella on a white bowl covered with leaves from a auto tree, the way to the Villa Fersen is lined with poppies and nasturtium, and in the calefaction of summer canicule lavender and rosemary aroma the abrupt airing bottomward to the sea abreast the three Faraglioni. Finally, there is the Mediterranean; algid and abstruse and glittering–one adumbration of which colors the astute eyes of the Capriotes.
Capri seems like abounding added places–its attenuated walks admonish me of Venice, the appearance of architectonics of Palm Beach, the arduous cliffs of the Monte Solaro of Yosemite, the earlier men and their kept boys of Fire Island, the ambagious Via Krupp of Lombard Street in San Francisco, the baby bakeries of Salzburg–but what makes it different and accomplished is color. Best things in beastly activity are notable for their concrete colors (holidays, uniforms, ceremonies) and for anniversary of these I can anticipate of–the red and blooming of Christmas and the orange of Halloween, the dejected and chicken of Cub Scout uniforms, the white of weddings–Capri has its equivalent: red and blooming are the colors of hibiscus blossoms and foliage and orange that of Lantana; dejected and chicken those of the Grotta Azzurra and clematis; white that of honeysuckle flowers.
All this is to say that Capri reminds the visitor, through color, of all he has anytime accepted and all he will anytime know. After advancing here, can fuschia anytime be annihilation added than those petals that assume fabricated of breakable Japanese cardboard and that adhere like canicule on the bank of the little aboveboard in the centermost of the island?–M.M.
Anniversary June the apple of Spello, aloof about the acropolis from Assisi, celebrates its anniversary infiorate, or broiled annual festival. Actuality is what happens: the night afore the infiorate the men and women of the town, accepting disconnected into groups, activate archetype book outlines (planned months in advance) on the pavement of the balustrade and surrounding streets. Meanwhile accouchement and old widows in atramentous sit on the sidelines in board chairs, amid by blush broiled and beginning petals: fiori del melograno (pomegranate flowers), garofolini (sweet william), ginestrella (greenweed), tagete (marigold), cedar of Lebanon, rose, fiordaliso (cornflower). Boxes and boxes of color, abysmal golds like back-scratch powder, aristocratic blues, hot pepper reds, that as dark approaches the Spellini begin, absolute carefully, to besprinkle central the traced outlines. (The blush scheme, like aggregate else, has been continued foretold.) Until aurora Spello is an astronomic appearance book in which attributes provides the crayons. (Strict rules prohibit dyeing or in any added way artificially acceptable the petals.) Then, about seven in the morning, the infiorate are finished.
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The best busy infiorata appearance absolute bi-weekly account about the war in Bosnia, a collapsed lamb, and, in white and blue, some confined from Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. Every detail is flawlessly executed, so abundant so that from a ambit you’d affirm the account was fatigued with chalk. Another infiorata recounts the plight of the American Indians. A third brings calm the emblems of the assumption apple religions: Buddha, the Koran, a Torah, and a Bible. None of the petals are alert down; instead, to accumulate them from alarming away, the tired-looking Spellini charge clip all day alongside their infiorate, atramentous them with water.
In the afternoon prizes are awarded; the infiorate are anxiously photographed. Finally at dark anybody goes home, accommodated their labors of a year, accepting the assured annihilation that the wind, the streetcleaners, the tromping anxiety of tourists will insure.
Sometimes the Spellini, in their alacrity to achieve, anniversary year new levels of abstruse excellence, balloon that ability is bare to accompany adroitness alive. It is a little bit sad (especially this abutting to Assisi, area Giotto painted) to see such immense ability as they accept accomplished consistent abandoned in academic and sentimentality. Again in a bend I appointment three little girls who accept fabricated of their petals the simplest angel of all: flowers (why not?) accompanied by a white cross. These little girls in red, yellow, and blooming jumpsuits kneel abutting to their work, faces abounding of–no, not pride; instead a affectionate of odd embarrassment, stubbornly proprietary after actuality in the atomic gloating; what I can abandoned alarm the accurate artist’s afraid devotion, wincingly acquainted of flaw, yet nonetheless afraid to carelessness a assignment that, for all its inadequacy, is still a child, illuminates the faces of these little girls.–D.L.
D.L.–It is the overabundance, the excess, of Italy that amazes the adopted visitor. D. H. Lawrence recorded the admiration of his wife Frieda, the “queen bee” (or q-b) of Sea and Sardinia, aloft visiting a Cagliari vegetable market.
We went bottomward to the little street-but saw added baskets arising from a ample flight of bean stairs, enclosed. So up we went-and begin ourselves in the vegetable market. Actuality the q-b was happier still. Peasant women, sometimes barefoot, sat in their bound little bodices and voluminous, coloured skirts abaft the bags of vegetables, and never accept I apparent a lovelier show. The acute abysmal blooming of appearance seemed to predominate, and out of that came the monuments of curd-white and blackpurple cauliflowers: but marvellous cauliflowers, like a annual show, the amethyst ones acute as abundant bunches of violets. From this green, white, and amethyst absorption addled out the active rose-scarlet and dejected blood-soaked of radishes, ample radishes like little turnips in piles. Thin the long, slim, gray-purple buds of artichokes, and dangling clusters of dates, and bags of sugar-dusty white figs and sombre-looking atramentous figs, and ablaze burnt figs: basketfuls and basketfuls of figs. A few baskets of almonds, and abounding huge walnuts. Basket-pans of built-in raisins. Scarlet peppers like trumpets: arresting fennels, so white and big and succulent: baskets of new potatoes: scaly kohlrabi: agrarian asparagus in bunches, yellow-budding sparacelli: big, clean-fleshed carrots: bristling salads with white hearts: long, brown-purple onions and then, of advance pyramids of big oranges, pyramids of anemic apples, and baskets of ablaze agleam mandarini, the little apricot oranges with their greenblack leaves. The blooming and vivid-coloured apple of fruit-gleams I accept never apparent in such splendour as beneath the bazaar roof at Cagliari: so raw and gorgeous. And all absolutely cheap, the one actual cheapness, except potatoes. Potatoes of any array are 1.40 or 1.50 the kilo.
“Oh!” cried the q-b, “if I don’t animate at Cagliari and appear and do my arcade here, I shall die with one of my wishes annoyed ”
D. H. Lawrence, Sea and Sardinia (1921)
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The aboriginal time I came to Italy alone, I lacked the adroitness for affair strangers. Already in Bologna, out of desperation, I approved to accept a babble with the stout padrona of my pension, who happened to own a little Pekingese dog. Although I could allege abandoned two sentences in Italian–“per favore, parla inglese?” and “per favore, parla francese?”–I anticipation to myself, the chat for dog in French is chien; and back Italian words are basically French words with an “a” on the end, I acicular to the beastly and said, “cena?” at which point the woman’s eyes arched in abhorrence as she affective the barbarian protectively to her breast.
As I abstruse later, cena agency dinner.
This was by no agency the aftermost of the mistakes I fabricated in Italian; in fact, ten years later, back I’d absolutely advised and amorphous to apprentice the language, I started authoritative alike more. Already in Sestri Levante, for instance, my acquaintance Giovanna and her absolute actual Milanese parents and I were talking about the assorted resort towns abreast Genova, one of which is alleged Chiavari. “Ti piace Chiavari?” I asked Giovanna’s mother, who went white. Later, Giovanna explained to me that by mispronouncing “Chiavari” as “chiavare,” I had asked her mother if she admired to fuck.
Mistakes go in the added direction, too. A absorbing archetype of awkward adaptation is the English card we were handed at one of those places one goes to once. In this case the artistic author, alive that primi piatti agency “first courses” and second) piatti “second courses,” evidently rendered antipasti as “course d’oeuvres.”
Finally this: Italians (like Spaniards) accept abundant adversity audition the aberration amid assertive English words: “chip” and “cheap” complete about identical to their ears; so, too, “pip” and “peep,” or “dip” and “deep.” Thus you can brainstorm the abruptness of an Italian acquaintance back he went to an American bazaar and begin a toilet cardboard cycle that proclaimed “1000 SHEETS.”
“America is a admirable country,” he said.
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