A bit about this writing, someone saying in the comments that this month’s topic is “holiday” brought this to mind.May be the only holiday of my life which will remain etched in the memory for ever.
When I was a teenager, I saw a movie called “it started in Naples”, I think it starred Sophia Loren and it was about a love affair which started in Naples and ended tragically, or was it happily? I cant quite remember but the name stuck in my mind ,and is there to this day.
It is now because, it has some very good and some painful memories.
because it turned out to be our last holiday together.
His illness, which turned out to be fatal, started to show its first sign. That is the way cancer is, the big C. Despite our conquests of the space, discovering water on Mars and locating the craters on the surface of the moon, we are unable as yet, to recognise or diagnose it, until and unless it has colonised and invaded all the free, and not so free spaces of the body and established ownership, its tentacles buried deep in the soft tissues, organs and started to dominate their functions, making them dance to its tune.
So it started in Naples, the beginning of the end.
I have remembered that title of the film and have always wanted to visit that city, having a mental image of its necklace like shape around a glitteringly blue sea, so when we were thinking of going somewhere for our summer holiday, I piped up with Naples.
So it was booked and we took off, anticipating ten days of sheer bliss, sun and warmth in the gloomy month of November.
It did not disappoint, we arrived on a glittering afternoon and the hotel turned out to be amazing too. A luxurious place with marble floors, and overlooking the sea, and the bay did encircle the sea like a necklace, it reminded me of the Marine Drive in Bombay in India, where I had spent many a summer holidays. So some British architect who had Naples in mind must have designed it.
We ate breakfast on the terrace, the restaurant overlooked sea, and the morning sun making looking starry sparkles all over the surface. A beautiful cool breeze and window boxes, bursting with orchids and geraniums, gloriously creamy and red. A sight to behold.
After breakfast we would go exploring, walking by the sea, into the town, stopping for a coffee ,sitting in a sunny roadside café and people watching, talking about our children, and politics; anything which took our fancy.
A leisurely lunch will follow and then we will go back to the hotel and he would complain of being a ‘little tired’ understandable as he worked full time , and I thought it was natural the pressures of work relieved he wants to relax and feels tired.. He will have some rest and I will sit on the balcony and read my books. I can remember the book I was reading, it was “A perfectly good family” by Lionel Shriver.
A tale of love hate and family upheavals. A good read, I was quite happy to lose myself in that saga, little aware that soon my life was going to face the biggest upset.
We took tours to the coast of Amalfie, and as the coach went up the hairpin bends, and dreamlike views it all seemed un real. Surely no one place can have such beauty, tranquillity and weather at the same time. We passed the beautiful white villa, nestling at the bottom of the moutain,which the film producer Carlo Ponti bought , and proposed to Sophia Loren there. I thought of the film and the connection with Loren, and my long term desire to see the place.
We visited Pompeii, Sorrento and Positano, taking trains and admiring the landscape whizzing by, admired the cleanliness and the punctuality of the trains and appreciated as to how cheap they were, compared to the UK.
We would go out for a walk every evening by the seaside, dining at the little restaurants, little tables with checked tablecloths, with bottles of olive oil and vinegar. Smiling waiters, with sleeked hair and very white teeth. The hospitality was great, whenever we sat down, either a guitarist came along and serenaded or I will be presented with a single rose.
Little gestures, which made the experience special.
Our hotel room had fresh flowers every morning, The sun breezed in quite early, forcing its way through the thick curtains, and woke every morning, full of anticipation and peace, looking forward to another beautiful day and new experiences.
I so remember walking by the coast of Amalfi, trying to preserve the beauty of the bay, marvelling at the colour of the sea which was a mixture of Sapphire with silver, as the rays of the afternoon sun played on the ripples.
We had a long and leisurely lunch, delicious wine and fresh sea food, locally baked bread and olive oil for dipping, and the vegetables were amazingly tasty.
On the whole there was nothing that was not great on that holiday, the sun the food the company and the country.
Life couldn’t get any better.
And then it was time to leave, on our way to the airport , I kept glancing at the rapidly receding sea, and loudly said that we must come here again.
It was such a perfect holiday, I wanted it to never end. But end it did, and I will never be able to revisit it .
I often wonder why the title of the film “It started in Naples” stayed with me from my teenage years., is there a significance to it?
Probably not; but something did start in Naples, which did not end well, which brought an end an era in my life, a chapter closed never to be opened .
Life did and does go on and will carry on but my memory of our last holiday will always remain with me along with the memories of a lifetime together,the joys, triumphs,failures and disappointments. The usual stuff of life we all go through,and tuck it away in our memory. Often not daring to recollect them and they stay there,but there are somethings like this holiday,the place I craved ,I wanted to visit, which stayed with me for many years,it seems was to have a significance in my life and it did.
I will have many more vacations in my life time, but something which started in Naples has ended there.