To the bat cave, Robin
Monday Aug 13
Daniele calls me. His family has a house on the beach in Mazzara del Vallo. Ten days, only shorts and sandals, the beach and relaxing. “So how will your vacation be?” he asks. “Where are you going?” I tell him I have just been away, but when I think of that little stretch of sand and Ferragosto, my blood boils. Nothing to do with the fact that it is 104° F, where I am today.
Later in the day I get an email from Lucio. “Here it is sunny and perfect. We are invited to Giorgio’s home, Friday night, for a light dinner and some cards. He asks why you don’t join us?”
There isn't much to do on Pantelleria, but what does one need to do in August? Change the world? There’s a carnival of revolutions among the pranksters who run the world; Napoleon, Ho Chí Minh, Yeltsin, Rove, and the beat goes on.
About this time, I think, what would be the harm in catching a flight of fantasy to Sicily? One friend is in Trapani and another is in Pantelleria. Why not call up Umberto and talk him into a 5 day quick trip to catch a cure for this island fever?
Umberto, always ready and even more generous, thinks for a New York second and calls Million Air to ready the plane, a long hauler.
Tuesday Aug 14
By the end of the day the jet will harness our spirits and once again lift them towards the heavens. This is no dark dream, this is one of light and sun and water and wind. A late afternoon departure is planned.
I call Lucio and tell him to call Annabella to set three more places. “Do you folks want anything from Texas?” Annabella loves BBQ sauce from Sonny’s, so we send Tony to bring back a couple of gallons. She thinks it helps to marinate the tuna, calm down the gaminess. I think she is crazy, but wonderful. One thing- these people don’t get themselves an article in a magazine and leave out the rest of their family. They are genuine. Successful, yes, but never forgetting that they saw far, because of the shoulders they stood upon.
Sicilians are not like some of the other islanders; they have been exposed to the global community for some time now. They know the future is built upon the ruins of the past, but best to not destroy it in the present. Some of the lesser island cultures are still feeding off the milk of the golden jackals.
This is an intense time. I can only escape for short periods of time. Work is constant. Competition is relentless. The economy is unstable. The war is getting closer. A little time on a boat, by the water, with friends, a little Zibibbo and Inzolia, maybe some Cerasuolo. Fresh fish, tomatoes that taste like they are supposed to. Melons that are ripe. Uncongested space, stars, lots of stars. Cooler nights. Longer days. Leave Tuesday late afternoon, return Monday. It will have to be enough. All of Italy is taking a break. Even the unemployed ones.
They are harvesting the early Zibibbo in Pantelleria. It has been an early year in Italy for the grapes. Plenty of sun and heat, not enough hang time. But Zibibbo has grown accustomed to the cycles and will deliver. We won’t harvest, but we will witness. And swim in the cool pool overlooking the salty sea. And take naps and walks under the moonless sky looking at the waning Perseid meteor showers. Heaven on earth. Summer in Sicily, my fantasy island mini-vacation.
Bea, Arthur, take it away...
All photographs of Pantelleria by the author