I went, I saw, I laughed a lot, I cried a little, found people I’d lost in time and distance, been temptation, and fleeced by experts. Sounds a lot to have done in twelve days, and yes I have travelled many mile, but I don’t intend to bore you with every little detail.
Just a small reminder, during my stay in Italy I met a number of people who I’ve known for years, and also made a few new ones. In order to protect their identity I’ve changed all the names and substituted one city for another.
It is difficult to change everything, so some of the facts are as they are. Which ones? Well, that would be telling.
Also all conversations with the family were in Italian, here I have translated.
A few days before we left I’d called Vitalia, who I’d met fifteen years before while in Italy, told her when I was going to be in Rome, and said that it would be nice to meet up, if she had the time. An hour later she rang back and said that her family were very excited at the prospect of seeing me again, and they insisted that I spend some time at their villa near Sorrento.
I could write a travel-log describing the time I spent in Rome, but that’s not the reason for his blog. The Eternal City has remained essentially the same; more beggars, more expensive, more commercialised, but Rome will always be Rome.
It is a city of churches and statues and fountains and museums, where art and sculpture collide with the horrible history channel.
We arrived in Rome on Friday and while he went off to work I spent the days reacquainting myself with the churches and monuments, running the gauntlet of street sellers and tourist queues. The pound is at a record low, around 98 pence to the euro when I arrived, which meant that everything was much more expensive.
We spent three nights in a beautiful apartment. On the fourth morning I kissed him and took a taxi to the station and boarded a fast train to Naples.
**I found the best Italian iced-cream shop in all of Rome, called Romano’s; it is well worth a visit, if you love iced cream as much as I do. I’ve decided that it must be what is described as the Nectar of the gods, and in ancient times only available on Mount Olympus.
Vitalia is now married with two children, a girl of twelve and a boy of nine. That much I knew from the letters we’d exchanged over the years. Her younger brother Giovani, who’d been ten when I stumbled into their lives, was now in his mid twenties; her mother, once a holiday rep for a large multi-national company, had given it up to raise her children and look after the huge family home and estate, with the aid of five servants; and her father, a doctor, had retired from medicine at forty-five to pursue his other passion- yachting, and now owned a very successful boat chartering business.
Vitalia had said that someone would be at the station to pick me up, and as I exited, dragging my luggage I was approached by a tall, handsome stranger. Sounds a bit of a cliché, but he is tall, tanned and dangerously handsome.
“Hello,” he began.
I looked up at him, squinting slightly as the sun was right behind his head. There was a low rumble of laughter in his throat.
“You don’t recognise me?” he said, removing his sunglasses. “I’m Giovani.”
Fifteen years had made definite changes to the shy ten year old boy I remembered. Then, he’d been a skinny youth, tall for his age, but all long legs and arms. Now he was two or three inches over six feet, dark, wavy hair, thick and glossy; toned muscular torso encased in a tight black T-shirt, tanned arms, still long, displayed solid corded muscles and dark hair. But it was his eyes that had changed the most. Before, his gaze had been shy, now they viewed me with a steadiness that was bold and little disconcerting.
Here was a man used to looking at women, and used to receiving lustful looks in return. I tried not to simper. I really did.
“Let me take your bags,” he said, picking them up and walking toward the large Mercedes waiting at the kerb.
Mills and Boon, eat your heart out, I thought.