Italy is when I drive two hours through the Tuscan countryside arriving at a villa on top of a hill. Italy is when I arrive while the hosts are eating dinner and, in a voice unfamiliar to me say, “I’m the small Jewish girl who’s come to gatecrash your holiday.”
Ok, maybe I don’t say it but certainly I think it, ’cause, when you gatecrash someone’s holiday you start out feeling small. I mean, who does that? Who the fuck gatecrashes a holiday?
Italy is where the gift for the hostess gets confiscated at Stansted Airport before I even leave London.
Italy is where we eat pasta, all the pasta. Like seriously, if you go to Italy any time soon you will find their pasta is finished; it’s gone the way of moderate weather, good governance and also my waist line. These are things never to be witnessed again in our world.
Italy is where we visit Pienza and happen upon a museum dedicated to Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet. And my heart melts remembering the triplets, as tiny toddlers, obsessed with that movie. Samuel sleeping for years with not just two daggers but also three swords, in his bid to become Tybalt .
Italy is where we swim in a giant pool that looks out at the endless emptiness of land.
Italy is where I miss you the most. You and our children, who are at Oxford, learning and being adult.
Italy is where we walk and I gaze out at the landscape wondering, what would Juliet have thought looking out at these hills in fair Verona, where Shakespeare lay her scene. And then I remember, that was a fiction.
Italy is where we eat.
Italy is where great charcoal clouds come in from the east, or perhaps it is the west. Italy is where they have no drought and I stand for an hour in the shower listening to the water and the rain and Tabitha’s playlist.
Italy is where I am bitten by mosquitoes and my fingers swell and go “Euch!”
Italy is where we watch Sasha Baron Cohen and I laugh out loud but something inside me turns queasy and I turn away from the screen towards the vegetable patch and the cypress trees outside.
Italy is where we laugh, and eat.
Italy is where the people are so funny and generous and kind that I begin to believe I am an invited guest on this holiday.
Italy is where I miss you the most.