I am presently enjoying several weeks in my beloved Italy. There is so much to write about but I think I have to give first place of honor to the Island of Ischia, which sits just off the coast from Naples. We arrived in Naples, via Rome, on a Thursday evening and after six days catching up with jet-lag, eating LOTS of mozzarella (among many other good Italian dishes!), and going to Bahia Blanca, a favourite beach on the other side of Gaeta, we took the ferry over to Ischia. This is an island formed by volcanic eruptions thousands of years ago.
The first thing that visitors to Ischia notice as the ferry approaches the island is how green and fresh everything is despite the heat. Because Ischia is a volcanic island it is quite mountainous and its slopes are a rich green as they come down to meet the various towns and villages. Almost every garden is rich in flowers which at the moment are in full summer bloom.
All of the streets are lined, usually on both sides, with tall rhododendron trees dripping flowers in every shade of pink imaginable. Bougainvillea in all its many shades spills over walls, climbs fences, and trails up and down the walls of houses as though an artist had dipped many brushes into different colors on his palette and splashed them here and there in wild abandon. Hibiscus offer up their beautiful shallow open trumpets as though about to create some romantic perfumed symphony, and huge pregnant balls of mauve and blue blooms top the stems among the lush green foliage on large hortensia bushes. Everywhere is a riot of color.
But color does not stop with God’s amazing creation. The residents of Ischia have added their own artistic touch to their island. Houses are painted in every pastel tint available. Shops are decorated with colorfully decorated tiles or painted murals and a wild profusion of products hangs in doorways, spills out onto the sidewalks, or fills windows in such a way as to entice the passerby to stop and peruse and, perhaps, buy. My heart and soul are filled with color since being here in Italy and Ischia has played a principal part in that.
I have lived for about thirty years in Italy. The very first visit to that country was to Genoa in December 1963. All I can say is that when I deplaned and my feet touched the tarmac, my soul came home.
I eventually came to live in Italy in 1969. My first home was in a place called Santa Margherita di Pula located in the southern region of the island of Sardinia. This island captured my heart. The sea is turquoise, the beaches are pristine, the rocks are unbelievable, the people are delightful, and the food is incredibly good.
The last four and a half years of my time in Sardinia were spent on the island of La Maddalena. If Sardinia was said to be the crown of Italy, La Maddalena would be the diamond sparkling in that crown. In my post Poetry- Sharing My Love of Sardinia I already described this beautiful island and shared one poem that I wrote in nostalgia after I left. Here is another poem that I wrote during the course of a revisit.
Hot air hanging languidly in a shimmering haze.
Warm brown bodies proffered to the sun,
Splayed on molten sand.
Still waters reflecting glistening gems
Of cool coral edged with mother-of-pearl
Mirrored under translucent turquoise.
Oh island of my heart, my soul, my mind,
Resplendent as a queen you proudly lie
Royally robed in colors warm and bright.
Your elegant form bedecked with dazzling jewels
Enchanting all who dare to gaze upon you,
By nature so generously endowed.
In sharp contrast is the city of Naples. I returned to live in Italy after spending five years back in the UK, and by God-incidence I ended up in Naples. Naples is a wild and chaotic city that lives by its own rules, as do the Neapolitans! It is a city of wide contradictions and immense fascination. There is a saying that goes, “See Naples and die”, meaning that nothing counts after experiencing Naples.
In my previous post Poetry- The Urchin From Naples, I gave some personal insights into this crazy and wonderful city as well as sharing a poem that I wrote before I ever physically visited there. The following poem describes how I felt about it after being there just one week. Naples had “grabbed me by the throat” (this is what the locals say about the effect their city has on some people!l).
Faded ochre, dirty rose,
Clothed in webs of ivy green
Spattered with dust.
Crooked cracks, crusted crannies
Creeping in all directions
On ancient walls.
In bright profusion.
In loud confusion.
City of love and painted passion,
Full of life and sight and sound,
City of song and laughter.
The dust may cling and spread around,
Crimes may take place each day, all day,
But you are throbbing, alive, and gay.
You are a heartbeat unto yourself.
And as you spawn your hopes, your fears
Into your maddening noises streets
I lived from early 1969 to late 1978 on the island of Sardinia which is located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. Sardinia is a very unique and beautiful place with glorious white beaches, incredibly clear, translucent, turquoise waters, moonscape mountains, and low lying rocks of multi-colored hues.
The Sardinian people have been influenced culturally and through blood lines by the Moors and the Spaniards. They can be very open and friendly just as they can be closed and very taciturn. Sardinians are …… Sardinians! They do not consider themselves to be Italian. Their dialects, of which there are several, are said to be a language of their own and most Italians from the mainland cannot understand them.
For almost ten years I lived among them. To this day I have friends there who would open their door to me in a heartbeat. For ten years I shared the “island life” and Sardinia put her own special hold on my heart. I returned to live in England in 1978 and two years later, as I sat among the concrete buildings of London’s City district during a lunch hour, these words came to me.
The voices of my island softly call me,
Whispering on the welcome spring-time breeze,
My heart responds so eager to their summons:
Come hither little one across the seas.
My eye half close and slowly she emerges,
This wondrous jewel that glitters in my heart.
No man can craft another in her beauty,
That God and Nature made a work of art.
And though she lies the distance of an ocean,
Her voices still arrive on spring-time’s breeze.
Persistently they call me to her bosom:
Come hither little one across the seas.
Margo Hay, 1980