Yes, after so many airplane flights, and so many arrivals into Rome, picking up the luggage, finding transportation and getting to my destination. Italy, I keep finding out, isn’t something I have been looking for. It is something that has been looking for me.
So I decided to return three months after that near fatal day near Vittoria in Sicily. And my first destination, after arriving in Rome, would be a place I knew to be safe, San Benedetto del Tronto.
San Benedetto del Tronto is one of those places every one of us should have somewhere. It has serenity. It isn’t asking for my time, my attention and my dollars. It just is, as it is for those who live there and come back there to rest and recover. Over the span of more than 30 years, I’ve had the whole range of emotions, seen all kinds of weather, and eaten all kinds of food. And had my share of good, wholesome, wine. And I’ve grown up with friends there, some of whom no longer are here with us. When I look on my balcony to the hotel next to me, the Excelsior, my emotions well up. That was the hotel I stayed at many times, in the summer, often with my wife Liz, who died now half a lifetime ago.
|Liz - 1988|
We’d take the stairs all the way up to the top of the hotel, the one where large letters, E-X-C-E-L-S-I-O-R, line the rim of the building. Fishermen can see it when they come back into port from a night of fishing. Like some kind of a beacon, they return. I too, return, walk into the hotel lobby and over to the bar, looking for the barman, my friend, Piero. Now he is white haired, and a bit shocked to see me. Am I an apparition? Have I really died, and is this place some way-station in Purgatory? He makes me a café, and we talk for a few minutes. The season is winding down and he is preparing his part of the hotel to close until after Easter. “50 years,” he answers to my question of how long he has been doing this. 50 years.
|Piero & Eugenio - 1990|
|Piero - 2016|
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