My life in Italy, looking anywhere but level:
Sunset over the river, taken during a balcony sort of evening, orientation. Stone bridges traverse across to the other side. One recent night two of us climbed over the bricks to a small ledge right over the water, backs to the wall as to be hidden from the headlights and eyes of passing traffic. It was a day of hibiscus and June blossom infused tea and discussions of artist as vessel or creator with a perfect end.
Classes are in the Villa Rossa. Grand center staircase. The paint is warm and the staircases are like strange stitching, weaving around the rooms and often (but not always) connecting on alternating floors. There are big oil portraits hanging over bigger mantles. I like the way shoes echo after morning rush.
Every evening in one of the piazzas, an American guitarist plays a set. We sat in the still-summer air, singing softly and sketching the statues by moonlight. He has a life I would like to sketch. There are many lives here I would like to sketch. In Florence, artists are collectors of one another.
The marble caves of Carrara. The stone has been untouched by sun for millions of years and when it does, it turns from gray to brilliant white. It's not "like" magic. It is magic. Michelangelo picked his own cuts from the same mountain. From these stones was formed the counterpoise.
San Vitale: Vincent Scully's class, come to life. There is another chapel in Ravenna with two frescos on either side of the central aisle - one depicting the blessed, the other depicting the damned. And I thought it a strange thing to be married there, between heaven and hell. Dante's tomb called out for a recital and we paid our tribute.
The seaside towns of Cinque Terre. I plan on running away here and losing myself in the olive groves for months at a time. I hiked nine kilometers and got dusty and sweaty and it was wonderful. I want to add a lock on the first path and tell stories of fishermen, painting their houses bright colors so they could see the point of their beloved, even while at sea. I want my lock to have a story, to be retold over and over in whispers in the groves.
A protest gathered at the church adjacent to our apartment. We stood on our balcony, watching dots of candlelight mushroom and multiply. I asked someone why, days later, and he told me and it felt like a secret, to know.
The water was more blue than the sky, a more delightful blue. I felt I could fly through it more readily than any air, a far smoother sailing. And later I did, hands clasped with another brave aviatrix. And we glided, cold and salty, past the poisonous barbs and away from a world my mind was buried too far, too deep.
Mayday Club. There is a membership card in my wallet: commemoration of the evening we spent mesmerized, dipping strawberries in peach vodka after watching a Beatles cover band. The talk that buzzes with specificity centered around an essay of a man’s hatred for endives and neoplasm, and a woman who did a photographic documentary in which she posted photos from each ex-boyfriend, cutting out the face of each with a perfect circle.