Friday, July 15, 2011

Perfect Summer Day in Italy

Yesterday was as near a perfect day as I've had this summer. I headed back to the beach with a friend who lives down the street. We set up our chairs and umbrella, pulled out water, snacks, and books, then promptly set to the hard job of relaxing on the beach. Our view took in the Baia Castle up on the nearest cliff, then on to Capo Miseno, that famed home of the Roman fleet at the time of Pompeii's eruption, and off in the distance, Capri was visible in the clear air. When time for a cool down swim arrived, I donned snorkel gear, and we set off for a nearby buoy. Where the buoy floats was once dry land, and with this particular stretch of the coastline being a former hotbed of vacation villas for wealthy Romans, under the waters lie the ruins. There are more watery ruins down the road in Baia, but those are for divers. The Arco Felice bits lie just off the beach where we were set up and the water is so shallow that in a couple of places, had I put down my legs, I would have been standing on an old, villa wall. The only villa we found during this swim was not one that had a mosaic floor, although those are out there, too. This one did have several columns, creepy with the algae covering up their former glory. One toppled column was not covered with marine life, so it's brick facing was clear. In other places, the columns just rose up out of the sand bed, with the walls of the villa surrounding them.

I'm always a little wary when I put on a snorkel. I'm not completely comfortable in the water, and for me, the unknown can sometimes be a good thing. I'm not sure I actually want to know what creatures are swimming around me. As with everything else in my new life, things are different here! There is no marine life. Nada. Just around the villa, I was thankful to finally see a few small, colorful fish - I suppose due to the marine growth on the ruins providing food. That made me feel a little better, but I've never snorkeled a place that just had nothing going on. Is it water pollution? Just a fact of no food = no creatures? Come to think of it, I now recall a headline from a couple of weeks ago in Italian, meaning I paid little attention to it. It was a news banner flashing across my email home page with the words "bianca" (white) and "Naples" in it and a picture of a shark. Perhaps I should have paid closer attention. This seems like it could have been important now that I'm actually swimming in these waters...okay, I've just done a Google search on the matter and found nothing. Although apparently some company named Evinrude is now distributing something called the White Shark line in Italy - see, that headline I read could have said anything. That's why I just count on ignorance and prayer to stay safe here.

Following a few hours under the summer sun and sporting a lovely stretch of skin that my sunblock spray missed, we packed it in and headed to our respective homes. Since sitting in the sun all day is hard work, I had no desire to cook dinner. As it turns out, a J-O-B. is actually hard work, so Nathan, too, was missing a desire to cook. He made the most lovely suggestion for dinner. You might think it was the words, "Let's eat out." That, however, is not the relaxing, easy way out - dinner out can be complicated, and very long, unless it's pizza. Since we're just off our diets, we're trying to spend weeknights with more healthy options. Off we went to Gennaro's, where we picked up prosciutto, salami, mozzarella di bufala, fontina cheese, and a large loaf of bread. Back home, adding in some olives and tomatoes and fresh basil to our spread along with glasses of wine, and we enjoyed my favorite, Italian dinner of all. And best of all, while we were at Gennaro's, we also stopped in to the gelateria for dessert first - a cone of biscotti gelato, and the day was perfect!

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