Life living in the shadow of the pandemic coronavirus is weird and keeps getting weirder every day. I never knew I would miss handshakes, hugs, kisses on the cheek and large gatherings. I’m an introvert, but also enjoy socializing, so these normal way-of-life customs (especially in Miami) that are now forbidden, makes me sad. But I have to say nothing has made me sadder than Italy being closed down.
The other night I approached an elderly lady who travels to Italy each year in the month of May (the same month as my Italian aunts would visit). I went to whisper in her ear. She pulled away violently from me: “Don’t kiss me!” she shuddered. I leaned in and whispered to her, “Isn’t it sad that Italy is closed?” and she nodded yes. I walked away.
It’s not that I had a trip planned to Italy, or anything like that, but the realization that I CAN’T visit Italy now is incredibly sad to me and also, kind of unbelievable. The fact that the cafe’s, trattorias, bars, piazzas, coffee houses, museums, galleries, shops and parks are closed to the public, that spots once filled with people- St. Marks Square, the Spanish steps in Rome, Saint Peter’s Square- now look like ghost towns, is just sad, sad, sad.
My favorite part of an Italian trip years ago with my sister and our daughters, was how all the inhabitants of the little Tuscan town (San Casciano de Bagni) where we were staying would gather in the piazza in the late afternoon. Old women holding hands, older and younger couples walking arm in arm, young children with their parents, would all come out before dinner, to stroll, talk and spend time together. And now, just like that, gone. Finito.
After playing a tennis match Tuesday, I found out the rest of our season has been cancelled, so that match (unbeknownst to me) was my last. That seems like nothing when compared to everything else that’s going on. The Miami Open’s tennis tournament is cancelled, Ultra (a blessing to some) silenced, Miami-Dade schools are closed and Disney World, where I was supposed to take my grandson Wyatt this month, is closing, along with countless other events/places. Today it was announced Golf’s Grand Dame, the Masters is being postponed, as is the Boston Marathon, the first time in it’s history.
It seems as if the world is coming to an end.
I took my son Christopher to Italy around five years ago. We visited Rome, Florence, Siena and Sorrento. His favorite meal was a huge antipasto plate we ate in Florence, before going to see the David at the Academia. We took the train from Florence to Naples and then to Sorrento, where we were staying. After a crazy train trip and shuttle to our hotel, we finally checked in, got settled and took our glasses of wine onto the balcony. We watched the sun set over Mt. Vesuvius. It was stunning.
The next day we went to Capri and spent the day walking around admiring the amazing views, eating pizza with zucchini blossoms and fresh mozzarella and being followed around by a little dog Christopher named Luigi. We had a wonderful day. As we waited for the ferry to take us back to Sorrento, I had an Aperol Spritz.
Aperol is a liqueur invented in 1919, based on an infusion of selected herbs and roots. It’s also called a Spritz Veneziano and is typically served in a wine glass and garnished with an orange slice.
It’s an easy drink to make yourself. I suggest you make one and enjoy it in the seclusion (and safety) of your backyard, with a nice antipasto plate. It’s orange color, reminiscent of the brilliant sunset in Sorrento, is a harbinger of things to come. La Dolce Vita, the sweet life of Italy, with kisses and hugs and pinches, will one day return and so will our own normal lives; when it does, we will appreciate it all the more.
“Italy is a dream that keeps returning for the rest of your life.” Anna Akhmatova
3 ounces Proscecco
2 ounces Aperol
Splash of Soda Water (preferably Italian)
Put ice in wine glass. Add Aperol, Prosecco, sparkling water and garnish with an orange slice.