About Me

My photo
Delray Beach, FL, Westport, MA, United States
Undergraduate degree, Colby College; MA in teaching, Columbia Teacher's College; former high school English teacher in three states; former owner of interior design co. with advanced degree from R.I. School of Design. Published first book in 2009 titled, MINOR LEAGUE MOM: A MOTHER'S JOURNEY THROUGH THE RED SOX FARM TEAMS. Her humorous manuscript titled ELDERLY PARENTS WITH ALL THEIR MARBLES: A SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR THE KIDS was published in June, 2014. In 2015 A SURVIVAL GUIDE won a gold medal in the self-help category at the Florida Authors & Publishers Association conference. See website By CLICKING HERE.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Snapshots from Italy II - Our Morning Walks

Our hotel on the Italian island of Ischia sits on a promontory overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea between the towns of Lacco Ameno and Forio.  We spend each morning walking miles up and down the hillsides to work off the pasta (not always a successful remedy!).  One of our favorite walks winds through the forest above our hotel, past the Italian film director's house (which sits at the end of a dirt road), past a bocce court as the road becomes asphalt, along the coast to an overview of Forio. Then we wind down cobblestone streets past the Church of San Francesco de Paola, past the beach resorts in Forio and the marina, to a cafe in town for a cold drink.

View from our hotel promontory

Tower rooms in our hotel and pool

At the beginning of this walk to Forio we must descend our hotel's half-mile driveway. Part-way down there is a sign that reads, "Madonna di Zaro" (Madonna of the Hillside).

Charley and I ascend the dirt path through the forested hillside toward the shrine, which sits atop winding wooden steps.  On this walk, we are not alone. In a dirt car-park, taxis and a van wait in leafy shade for their customers, who begin to file singly down the steps after their supplications. Scattered next to the vehicles are picnickers' plastic bottles, sandwich wrappers, melon rinds, and the condom evidence of lovers' trysts.

Having been blessed by the Madonna, the group assembles to board the van.  "You sit in back (in Italian)," one woman directs.
                                                                              "No, I sit next to my husband in the middle," the other woman answers.

"Take a different seat!" she hears.  "Angelo and I want middle."

Angelo and his wife get their wish.  If only the Madonna had the power to cleanse the wooded hillside as she had (dubiously?) cleansed the petitioners' souls!


Overlooking the town of Forio, Ischia
Down a serpentine, one-way street on our way to Forio, we wait to enter the blind curves till we hear no engines. We slow at families' niched shrines and again at the Church of San Frencesco de Paola (half-way down the twist of S-turns) before entering the narrow tunnel just past the church's pink facade.  In the middle of the tunnel we hear a car approaching from behind, but there is no place to disappear. The tunnel is just wide enough for one car.  The horn blares at Charley, behind me on the cobblestones.  "You honking at me?" he yells.  "Slow down and wait!"
A family shrine

Of course, the woman doesn't understand a word!  She waits till we exit the tunnel before shouting curses as she passes.

On the roads hugging hillsides on Ischia, sidewalks are built as a brief nod to the tourist, then they disappear. Crosswalks are mere suggestions. Charley decides that since crosswalks are meaningless, he can cross where he pleases.  He grabs my hand and holds his free hand up like a traffic cop, defying two lanes of traffic to stop or hit us.
Forio, Ischia

Once we get past the beaches, we hug the sides of cobblestone houses and produce shops while cement trucks and faces frozen behind glass in tour buses whiz at forty-five mph within twelve inches of our sucked-in stomachs. Young girls with their arms around their boyfriends' waists zoom around us on cycles, the boyfriends yelling back to them and flinging one hand in the air with fingers together like blown kisses for emphasis. Taxi drivers never disrupt their phone conversations around blind curves. We stand on the asphalt's six-inch shoulder, waiting till Charley can swing out into the curve with me following. He uses a sideways pushing motion away from us, certain that motorists coming out of the curve will see him and make NASCAR moves to avoid us. Ahead of him, housewives in flip-flops with their groceries defy the drivers without ever looking up.

Forio, Ischia

In front of one market, a car slows to claim its parking space.  It's the same space where Charley is walking. "Hey, stop!" he yells to the female driver, who stops within three feet of his upright palms.

Out jumps Nana, with her cloth grocery bag. "Quoi?  Quoi?" Nana asks.

In other words, "What's your problem?  Don't you know my daughter owned a motorino (motorbike) when she was six?"

Fruit and vegetable vendor in Forio
Blind curve on Ischia

Another blind curve on Ischia