By Laura P. Valtorta
Who will save me from these loud-talking Italians? Will it be Hanya Yanagirhara (author of the excellent novel, A Little Life, now living in my reader)? Will it be a new Italian/French TV travel show – “Posso dormire da voi?” Or will it be Marco, whose head is now the color of a sour Ligurian cherry, after we swam three times in the Mediterranean today? (Sunscreen – ever heard of it?)
Of course the answer is Marco, because he is an Italian like no other. Marco is a citizen of the world.
I also rely on Hanya Yanagihara, whose brilliant novel gives me respite and escape in the hot apartment in Cavi, when we are not swimming (the cold water is the only place that brings relief) in the Mediterranean that was today flecked with yucky debris from the passing yachts. Or raw sewage.
We sweat. We walk to Bagni Aurelia and swim. We open our computers, we read, we drink cappuccini and spremute d’aranica. We gaze at the strange Italians, so loud and demonstrative with their children – kissing and kissing them (I approve of this). We get naked, and we swim.
Lunches are fish and salad at the local restaurants. Dinners are light and eaten at home. Tonight we had cherries, gorgonzola, Emmenthal cheese, chunks of bread and gelato (limone, fiordilatte, nutella, e fragola). Acqua frizzante.
The people at Bagni Aurelia, (where we have a cabin and an umbrella plus two chairs on the sand, where we eat lunch at the ristorante), are like comic book characters. There is Stefano, the sarcastic Sicilian proprietor and Silvia, his mousey wife. There is the stream of fogey neighbors who ask about Gioia, Clara, Ross, and Dante. There is the elegant, nut-brown barista girl, the self-conscious lifeguards (don’t I look great in my red T-shirt and tight shorts?) and the hairy men in small bathing suits and ugly sandaled feet.
On the beach, we see the topless women lying prone in the sun, and the coconut vendors – “Cocco. Cocco bello!” There are the Africans and Moroccans selling towels and sunglasses. One of the African women, wearing a long cotton dress, carries a basket of towels on her head.
At home I read A Little Life. I cry sometimes at Jude’s plight. I sleep on the sofa and sweat. Then we descend the steep driveway to the street. We walk under the train tracks. We emerge on the other side, walk past the comic book characters and swim.