Monday, September 4
out with Andrea (story)
I met up with Andrea once or twice a week. We went back to Naples together and
explored more marketplaces, visiting friends of his and hanging out in bars and
nightclubs. Driving back, late one evening he took me into Castellamare di Stabia, the town where the wiseman Pliny had watched the pyroclastic flow shoot out of Vesuvious and bury Pompeii all those years ago.
It was midnight when we arrived but the seafront was bustling with life. Makeshift seafood bars where you could sit and eat a plate of freshly caught clams or mussels, lined the streets. Andrea, pulled up at the side of the road and handed me an empty plastic bottle.
“Go over to that fountain and fill up the bottle.”He instructed me,”rinse it first!”
I got out the car and walked over to the fountain. The floor around it was wet and a group of teenagers hung around, leaning on their vespas.. I rinsed out the bottle and filled it with water. I took a sip and nearly spat it back out. The water was fizzy! Andrea saw my face and laughed,”its naturally carbonated water! Do you like it?”
“I love it!” I answered delightedly, taking another sip. We ate ice cream, leaning on the roof of the car, watching the nightlife in front of us, before calling it a night and driving back to his house in the hills above Sorrento.
One afternoon while we were driving out of Sorrento towards Naples, Andrea turned to
me and said, “there's a secret place that I go to sometimes. I'm going to show you, it might be magical tonight.”
He pulled over at the edge of the road and we got out the car. I looked around but there was nothing nearby. One side of the road was sheer mountain, the other side there was a small wall. Over the wall were gardens of olive groves on thin strips of land , staggered in layers down towards the sea. Andrea jumped over the wall and started running through the trees. I quickly climbed over and started following him, calling for him to wait.
He liked surprises and being a man of few words, would often just take me somewhere
without saying where we were going. There was always something new to show me,
spectacular views, monastaries, places he used to go when he was younger. We ran
through the olive groves, ducking under branches and netting. “What if we get caught?” I shouted to him, as he dropped over a ledge to the next level. “If anyone asks, you answer ! We can pretend to be lost tourists looking for the beach!” He sprinted off again and I ran after him wondering where he was taking me. We came to an area where there were black and orange nets strung between the trees, to catch falling olives. The whole area was blanketed in nets, waist high off the ground.
“Oh,” said Andrea, “well, we'll just have to go underneath!” And off he went, this time crawling under the nets, beckoning me to follow. It was uncomfortable, crawling on the ground. Twigs and hard little olives dug into the palms of my hands and my knees. I stood cautiously and found that I could walk with my legs bent and head down, in a squatty troll sort of way.
Finally, the nets ended and we emerged, breathless and flushed to find that we were standing at the edge of the lowest garden. There was a sheer drop to the sea below. There were less trees here and to my left I saw one of the old Saracen signal towers that dot the coastline here, empty and abandoned with only the trees for
Andrea grabbed my hand and took me over to the tower.
“Come on, its not locked, we can go inside.” He led me into the round tower, it was cold and musty, the floor was slippery with moss. There was an old crumbly stone staircase leading up to the floor above. Andrea started climbing it carefully. He hald out his hand and encouraged me to follow him. It didn't look very safe, but I trusted him and started climbing. We climbed up two flights and came out onto the roof.
It was magic, he had been right. The sea shimmered infront of us, stretching away into the distance. To our right was the bay of Naples, Vesuvious dominating the horizon, to our right was the bay of Sorrento and Capri, silhouetted in the distance. But the magical thing was the sunset. I had never seen such an incredible mix of colours, pinks, oranges, lilacs and yellows, tinting the clouds, sky and sea, casting a magical glow over everthing. Slowly, as we watched lights began twinkling, as the sun disappeared below the sea and the colours deepened into mauves and fucsias. We sat there a long time, in silence, just watching.
Sometimes words are not needed.
at 7:54 PM