Tuesday, December 9, 2008

from the edge of a cliff

This is written from the edge of a cliff face. A village clinging to the rocks willing them not to lose grip. Taormina is a most picturesque town in the North eastern corner of Sicily, just before the port of Messina that connects Sicily to the toe of the Italy’s boot.

Winter in these small seaside resort towns can be one of two things…hardy and empty streets where you can hear the coastal winter rain drops fall solidly, (like the Cinque Terre) or if you take yourself a little closer to the equator, it is still the pumping heart that beats softer and less desperately than summer. Taormina may just be unbearable in Summer, but we will leave that discovery for a definite return trip in the future, right now…its perfect.

The view from our room stretches so far you can see the ocean curving around the globe.

When we awake in the morning, Mt. Etna’s snow covered folds catch the sun like a hologram. It sits strong against the blue backdrop.

Small breaths of smoke push into the sky from the villages stretched below along the coastline, but they can never quite reach us up here in our camere with its own private terrace.

The wonderfully charismatic elderly Italian woman, Elena has had this former family home since the late 60s, and pushes through her marginal English to make us feel like we were at our own Grandmothers. But she never makes us feel we are a pain, which we feel need to respect by getting home at a reasonable hour every night (but that is certainly not an expectation of hers).

Although its now raining out side, the fact that we can watch it dancing on our own terracotta terrace, and from such a grand height, makes it much more bearable than when it rained in Rome.

There, we pushed through one afternoon of sogginess to see the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, and Piazza Navona, before eating in a great little pizzeria “Bafetto’s”. I spent the evening asking questions of the apprentice pizza makers (they were over 50, but Bafetto the old boy owner will only ever let them feel like apprentices, I am sure).
In the end they must have been a little enchanted with all my interest in the making of a mere pizza, and we had a photo together! Unfortunately I still think my unexpectedly good pizza from a very local neighbourhood area of Torino, when visiting with dad, was still better than this one, but we enjoyed the pizza and question time, nonetheless!

I could write all day about the grandeur and scale of incredibleness of the Colosseum. I don’t think ‘incredibleness’ is a word, as the spell checker doesn’t recognize it, but the Colosseum is worthy of inventing words. No word in the English language can give you an understanding of seeing the beginnings of our civilization, you just have to see it for yourself.

We LOVED Rome, but we are still not quite sure why…there is something so significant about the place that Paris never offered. A strength, or something. Indescribable.

Florence provided me with a beautiful pair of Italian leather boots at a jealousy provoking 50 euros! A bargain that sparked a scent trail for Anth to search for his own pair, which thankfully we found in Taormina yesterday. For anyone that knows Anth and his attention to perfection –it was a long and at times painful, quest of second-guessing and guilt over the prices.

Today I am feeling a little homesick. I feel over indulged in all the culture that has so richly painted a tapestry of where Australian culture originates. I feel over indulged in food, wine, and choice…and I even feel a little apprehensive, that being so close to the end…I don’t know…I just want to hug my mum at the airport again and give her back the hankie she gave me 15 months ago, covered in her tears and mine.

So far the 15 months of travel has posed more questions than it has answered, for both of us, I think. So it’s nice to know our learning in this life will continue even though it feels like a chapter is drawing it’s final pages for us.

I look forward to the next chapter, getting back on the bike, eating a steak from the Cascades, and in a more long term sense - watching how Australia comes to terms with its image problem. We have such a rich stock, centuries of culture from other cultures…we just have to work out how to harness and make it move in the right direction for our country – I think…what do you?