This article I wrote two summers ago while I was at home in our village of Santa Domenica Talao in Southern Italy. Our village and Southern Italy in general was quite new to us at the time and every day was like a treasure hunt of beautiful things to see, wonderful, warm experiences and fabulous things to taste, smell and touch. What I love about Southern Italy is that there is never a chance to be bored. There are so many jewels there just waiting to be uncovered. I have been back since I wrote this article and I never stopped being completely enthralled by the place. Please join me in my completely impossible quest of experiencing everything there is to experience there. Here is my article:
Sorry for the lack of posts here but we just got the internet up and working here at the house. I am sure that I can now actually blog and post things. Unfortunately my computer is not up and going just yet so photos will come later. I have also written blogs on my other computer that are ready to post and once that is up and running I will post all of it. Apparently here, the internet is carried on some kind of a stick called a “Bongle” (Don’t ask me, I have no idea what that means) ( Note from present day Chris: “HAHA! I have since learned that it is called a “Dongle” but I thought the typo was funny so I left it!”) and you have to set it and set up your computers. Anyway, we are getting the hang of it and life just got a little bit easier.
Well, the Cremona blogs are all written and video was taken. I did get the chance to interview a master luthier in Cremona and tour his shop. I do have to tell you that Cremona is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen and it has a magic about it that has to be experienced in order to really understand that it is real. Every night that we were there, there were rock and blues concerts in the piazza right in front of the historical buildings that have been part of that town for many centuries. It was amazing seeing rock music being performed expertly in front of the historical buildings of the city that gave birth to the orchestral string instruments that helped further the renaissance in all of Italy. What made this the most enjoyable was being with my two great Italiani/Americani friends, Ralph and Flavia. We had a fantastic time looking at things, talking to people and doing some amazing shopping there. Honestly the shoes in Italy are unbelievable! The food was great. The ambiance was magic and I really did not want to leave.
Two days after I arrived in Cremona, I said Goodbye to Ralph and Flavia and took off for parts South. Here is a valuable piece of advice: In summer, do not delay in getting your train tickets for wherever it is you need to go. I went to the station the day before my trip down South only to find that the only trains left available were the intercity trains which are almost like a milk train in that it stops at EVERY stop between Cremona and Scalea. It took me 13 hours to get from the North of Italy to the South. It was not a bad trip. I shared the compartment with a lot of extroverted Neopolitans who I came to love. They tried out their English on me and coached me in Italian. There was a little girl named Francesca who asked me a series of questions having to do with how you say things in English. I told her her name was Francis and she was thrilled when I said “Bye Francis!” when I had to change trains at Roma Termini station. From the other passengers I received advice about what music to buy while I am here, how great it is to visit Napoli and all manner of other advice, some of which I could not completely grasp because they seemed to lapse into another regional dialect leaving me feeling like a race car who had suddenly skidded off the track and landed in the lingual ditch. Still a great time was had by all. we shared snax and stories and I wouldn’t miss it for anything. I do have to state, however that by the time I got to Scalea, my butt was hurting pretty well and it was a relief to get off to train.
Once I arrived at the train platform in Scalea, I spotted by great friend Tony who had graciously lined up a rental car for me and had it waiting. (Tony is the real estate agent who helped Pete and me purchase our property in Italy) This was good because I had lost touch with my sister who had arrived eariler in Scalea and I hoped that she had gotten my messages. (Travel tip: Please ensure that you handle your cel phone to accept incoming calls and texts from Italy while you are travelling. Don’t expect them to just come through. They don’t unless you set it up to do so.) I pictured her and her family bumping along the streets of Scalea looking for me and being forever lost in a foreign country without any knowledge of Italian. This IS actually what happened to some extent until my wiley sis booked a room at the hotel where I told her to meet me and I pulled up to find her sitting calmly and cooly at an outdoor table having a drink and looking around. Theirs is a story unto itself and when she sends it to me, I will post it for you. It is pretty funny and says a lot for her resourcefulness.
I left my sis and her husband at the hotel and grabbed my niece. We headed up the hill to Santa Domenica. If you haven’t read my book, please do. There are gret discriptions of the village and the area leading up to it. (Here is a link to Amazon for your Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Chasing-La-Bella-Vita-ebook/dp/B006DJDG9E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1381855169&sr=8-1&keywords=chris+ellis+chasing+la+bella+vita;
The village is a centuries old hilltop village with houses that rise up out of the rock upon which it sits like so many mushrooms on a tree trunk. The church at the top has a bell tower that reaches to the sky and it is always what I look for when I come home to Santa Domenica. Every morning when I wake up, I hear the sound of church bells singing in the distance. I can count the number of tolls and know exactly what time it is. It is a gentle wake up call that beckons me out of bed with a head full of ideas of exciting things to see and do that day. I can never sleep in while I am there even though I am so relaxed. I am just too afraid I might miss something spectacular. The village is the one place I feel that I can retreat when things get to be too much in the other part of the world. It is a place I know my spirit can rest and I can refill my heart with the wherewithal to go back out in the world and go at it some more.
As we drove through the piazza, my friend Nunzia spotted us. She flew out of her chair and rained down kisses through the car window. Nunzia owns the little shop in the village right off the piazza. After many kisses, she made us promise to come by for breakfast the next morning where we would share espresso and cornetti (you know them as croissants, home made that day and still warm. These are filled with cream, chocolate or almond paste and the café latte and cornetti are what I think of the most when I think of our other life in Italy). We agreed and made our way down to our beautiful little house under the piazza. I walked in and could feel the spirit of the little Italian lady who had raised her family there. There are reminders of her everywhere. I purposely left many of her items and touches in the house because I truly feel that she wants a family in her house and that the house should be filled with love and joy. I know in my heart of heart that she created that at one time and wants nothing more that a continuance of that in the time honored Italian custom. That is why coming into this house feels more like coming home than any other place in the world.
I walked out onto the balcony and showed my niece,Cat the lights of Scalea down below and the sea beyond it. The sky was a soft yellow around the city below and blended into a midnight blue sky that opened up forever into the space beyond. The dark blue sea stretched out to the end of the world and filled us with excitement and plans for the next day. It was perfectly peaceful except for a quiet conversations in Italian in the alley below us and the houses around us, reminding us that life continues here in this magic village as it has for centuries.
I will write more tomorrow and tell you about my new favorite pastime, bobbing in the sea! I have been doing quite a lot of that lately and it is a great way to spend an afternoon!
Until I can post photos, please click on this link to see pictures of the Casa. http://www.casabellavita.net/
Ciao for now!