Thursday, July 10, 2014

It's Just A Mystery

The summer before we left Scotland to come to America, Alan surprised me for my birthday with a holiday to southern Italy. We stayed in a beautiful little village outside Sorrento, called Sant'Agnello. Our hotel was perched right on the cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean, Mount Vesuvius visible from our bedroom balcony with Naples sprawled beneath.  At sunset, we could see Ischia and Capri glowing in the red-orange light like magical islands floating on the sea.

It was the best holiday ever.  So romantically Italian and wonderful that we decided it was more than a holiday; it became our second honeymoon.  And though our first honeymoon in Dublin had been most excellent, we agreed Italy was, well...more.

I took over 200 photos.  Everything caught my eye.  It was a wonder I didn't burn up my camera.

Fast forward...

Those of you who've been following me for awhile will remember a few years back that my computer was hacked and pretty much destroyed.  I had to buy a new one, and reinstall and/or repurchase everything that couldn't be saved by the techies. I lost over 500 irreplaceable photos--road trips around Britain, Scotland in all it's glory, moments in time from parties, events, gatherings.

And all of my Italy pictures.  Every one.  I cried for days.  Alan was gone by then so the loss felt even worse.  One of the best times of my life, with him...erased forever.

This week is the same date in July that we spent in Italy, so that holiday has been on my mind lately. Memories are so nebulous, and often get lost or misplaced in the vast archival space in our heads, but a photograph...a photograph can illuminate those dark corners and instantly bring certain moments back to life.

But not Italy, for me.

Fast forward...

This morning I had to take the boys to the vet for their annual checkups, shots and rabies/dog license stuff.  It was grueling with two shaking, freaked out--don't make us go in there--dogs, but in the end, with extra treats, it all worked out. Except for the bank account part.

I keep the paperwork on the rabies and dog licensing in the car in case I need to prove they're legit to someone, but the actual tags--too big for my wee dogs to wear--I keep in a small compartment in the incredibly beautiful music box that Alan bought me in Italy.

The boys have lunch, I balance my checkbook of dwindling funds--seriously, it was close to $300 today--and head for the bedroom to put the tags away.  There are other things in the music box and with the new tags, it's a bit crowded, so I take everything out and sort through stuff, seeing what I can get rid of.

At the bottom, tucked into the blue velvet lining I find a small disk, the kind you use in a digital camera. I frown, turn it over a few times in my fingers, but nothing rings a bell; I don't recognize it, there's nothing to identify it, I don't get it.  A mystery.

Setting it aside, I clean out the music box, listen for a poignant moment to the tune, Torna A Surriento, that never fails to transport me to that narrow little back alley in Sorrento and the wonderful old Italian guy who made each box by hand in his little shop.

After watering the plants in the back garden, the heat rising and sweat dripping, I make a tall glass of sun tea and sit down at the laptop to figure out what's on this unknown little SD Memory Card.

Is it okay if I just say that I burst into tears?  You guys will understand, right?

Because on that card were my Italian photos.  I don't know how it got into my music box, or why I would have taken the little disk out of my camera.  I always download my pictures to my photo program, then erase the card--start with a clean slate and all that.

So, let's take a moment, peeps, while I share this inexplicable mystery with you.  Here are a few random picks, in no particular order other than the joy I have in remembering them...

The village of Sant'Agnello...and our excellent hotel--the coral and white building--which is the beginning of the mile-plus cliff walk that eventually takes you into the heart of Sorrento, off in the distance...

We went by boat one morning to Capri; I took this shot at sea.  Our hotel is there, on the end of that jutting bit of cliff.  I never knew the south of Italy was so mountainous...or so truly beautiful.

Coming into Capri.  Once past the harbor it was like Beverly Hills--every famous designer you can imagine had a shop along the ancient narrow streets.  For me it wasn't the famous shops, but the famous Limoncello, potent and delicious...

Another day and a drive down the Amalfi Coast.  That white building in the center of the picture is where Sophia Loren lives.  And I wish I did...

My favorite place: Ravello.  A village way down the coast and high above the Amalfi highway, with cool mountain air and a breathtaking view.  We drove up the mountain and stopped at a little cafe, then sat for an hour or so with our Italian coffees...and seriously discussed moving to Italy.


What a strange day it's been. A startling turn of events that I can't begin to explain, tears--both joyful and sad--and vivid memories that can now shine outside the dusty corridors of my mind.


  1. That's neat. Those random chaoses, which flit through our existence are not always what one may call bad :).

    1. Serendipity works for me...on every level imaginable. ;D

  2. What a sweet story. Funny how we find memories in the oddest ways. Enjoy looking through your found photos and reminiscing...

    1. Life is just so strange, isn't it? Sometimes in a most excellent way... ;D