I’m on the bus heading south to Sicily. It’s Tuesday morning. It’s raining, with a deep overhang of cloud occasionally obscuring the mountains of Calabria. The storm blew in from the south last night – a scirocco from Syria and northern Africa – and with it, a grand evening light show over the bay of Sorrento, and desert dust that further obscures views and pictures.
It’s quiet. My travel mates – six couples in their mid sixties, an adult father-daughter duo, and a three-generation family from Miami (nonna, momma and their wonderfully engaging, curious twenty year old grand/son), all American and many of Italian descent; and “due donne sole” (two “single” women), me and a lovely young free spirit from Australia – are relaxing after a two full days of sight-seeing, picture-snapping, postcard-writing, clothes-shopping, wine-drinking, and espresso-sipping, yesterday with an added shot of grappa or sambucca – “café coretto” – to warm up from the cold, foreshadowing clouds and winds in Capri.
Occasionally, Dina, our tour guide, will come on the mike to talk with us about Italy, its landscape, politics, people and culture. Right now she’s talking about Italy’s resources and energy – we just passed a field of solar panels – and employment, retirement and pensions (a timely perspective given this group’s age.) Earlier, she told us about the origins of the Mafia. Yesterday, typical family life and dynamics (how a couple who both live at home until their thirties, find time and place to make out.) Given that she is born to Italian parents who emigrated to Australia, and now lives in a small town in central north Italy with her extended family in the north, she speaks with a wisdom earned by experience, and tempered by levity and “wife’s tales.”
I’m using this time to write, though posting will depend on internet accessibility, and what is more important, I’m learning, speed.
After visiting Pompeii,
We all lucked out and received rooms at the Hotel Corallo, each with our own private balcony overlooking the sea…Heaven on Earth again!
Despite an early conversation with “BellaThea”, I’ve chosen to take all the optional excursions to get the full experience and forego any other decision-making. I’m really enjoying the simplicity and ease of following along, and given Dina’s “spacious” itineraries, I’m finding I have plenty of time to wander on my own and discover. (Rome was the exception because we were working with an ever changing, unpredictable schedule and dictate from the Vatican officials for the Papal beatification.)
After the Roman dinner, my tentative ambivalence to attend the optional Sorrento agriturismo dinner was quickly dispelled when we arrived at the farm just minutes up the hill from the town centre, and learned about their olive oil production,
Dinner was the epitome of slow food Italia, with all the ingredients locally sourced and lovingly prepared. An antipasto of “salume,” “insalata calabrese,” with Maria’s fresh mozarella, their green olives in oil, fresh ricotta dusted with chili pepper, bread and “fagiolo” with lemon and olive oil. A “secondo” of pasta pomodoro with ricotta. Pizza. Homemade, sulfite-free, light and flavourful vino rosso, and a “dolce” of lemon-almond torte and espresso. Then for a sampling of a Sorrento classic, “limoncelllo” and “limoncello crema.”
As Rosa rang up our purchases of oil, vino, and limoncello, assisted by her young daughter and husband, we talked about Slow Food, and I learned she is a member of this Italian founded, world-wide movement. My already “full” appreciation was now enhanced by this shared and much-valued affiliation.