Photo of the Week - Heart of Tropea (part 2)
I stepped out of the shower and heard a knock on the door. Am I late?...
Looked at the clock….”Noooo.”
I opened the door and still in my towel peaked around it.
Was….see him for the first time again make me feel…..
“You’re early…” I said with a smirk.
“I wanted to see what you looked like when you woke up.” He stated.
Oh my God these cheezy comments, “well this is all you’re going to see,” I responded smug smile on my face, all high pitched like some high school girl. Did that just come out of me?
I smiled, “Go get breakfast,” placing my hand on his chest as if pushing him away…”I will be there in 20 tops.”
I closed the door interrupting his attempt to probably beg to come in. I put my back to the door and smiled big. “Oh boy” I said out loud as I left the door and continued to get ready.
15 minutes later I arrived on the terrace. He stood up when I got to the table.
“Ciao” he said kissing me on both my cheeks.
Ciao I said back and sat with him. “What are we going to do today?” I asked.
“Well I have a plan but first, Do you want to go to the beach?”
“I don’t think I can…” I said looking at my body. “I’m really red!” I said laughing.
“Does it hurt?”
“No, not yet.”
“I noticed it yesterday, so I brought you some sunscreen”
“Awww wow, thank you 😊 that is so sweet.” He blushed! I made him blush! HA!
“Ok, well if we’re not going to the beach I know where to take you first…”
The waitress arrived with my breakfast, he showed me photos of a goat he saw on his run that morning, and then when I finished my cappuccino, we left…into the car.
We started to head up to the mountain, then through tiny towns.
“Wow…” I said, “Can we stop? My sister didn’t think there were castles everywhere here, and that one looks like something out of Super Mario Bros. I want to take a photo!” Big, cheezy, excited smile on my face.
He laughed, “Of course, anything for your sister!”
He pulled over and put on the hazards.
“I’ll be right back!” I grabbed my phone and hopped out of the car. She’s going to love this. I got every angle and ran back to the car.
“Are you happy?” he asked.
“Yes!” Big Smile
We started driving again on the curvy roads. 30 minutes later, he suddenly stopped the car, and parked on the street. All I saw were trees and houses.
“Where are we?”
“You will see, Let’s go!” He smiled and got out of the car.
“ok…” I mumbled and got out myself. He reached his hand out for mine. We turned left on the next street and headed down this steep hill. Turned right when we got to the bottom and when the trees cleared on the left, I could finally see the ocean. I look out point emerged shortly after.
“Wow! It’s so blue!”
This beautiful beach was just south of us, boats on the water, the ocean was as blue as the sky.
“This is great! Really!” I said.
“I wanted to take you to the beach there. It’s called Capo Vaticano, but we will wait until next time.” I turned to him and smiled… will there be a next time? I thought.
We hung out there for a little while. I noticed he was convincing me to return.
“I have a boat,” he said. “This is my favorite place to sail. If you come back we will definitely come here in the my boat.”
“Sounds like a plan to me!” I said. I guess there will be a next time.
We finally headed back up the hill and hopped in the car.
“Where next?” I asked.
“I’m taking you to a town called Pizzo, it’s another cliffside town. We can get lunch there, ok? “
We drove in the car another 30 minutes and I caught myself staring at a newly constructed how on the side of the road. “Wow, that’s so cool.”
“Do you want to see it?” he asked and immediately stopped and turned around without me peeping a word. He pulled up to the house. I told him before I studied architecture. He is so cool, I thought to myself, laughing at myself in my head also.
In Italy they use a construction material called mattoni. It is really brick but it is shaped in a way that makes it light and also structural. I have a project I’m working on, where I need to preserve a building made of this material. I’m still trying to understand it.
“So what do you like about this?” he asked me. “Well we don’t use this material in the U.S.”
“Really? I didn’t know that.”
“Yea if we do construction like this we use concrete blocks, but the roofing and floors are usually a different material, like concrete slabs or steel. You can’t use Concrete blocks horizontally like you use mattoni.”
I’ll save you all from the rest of the architecture details 😊
We pulled into Pizzo about 20 minutes later.
“I love how these little town are built on the cliff side”
“I know you do.” He said, touching my leg for a second.
He parked the car and we got out.
Lots of stairs to climb to the main road. Very cute town. There was not really anyone here. Tourist shops everywhere though, unfortunately no tourists because of Covid. It’s honestly prettier this way. We come to the main square and look around, “What’s that?”
“It’s an old prison,” he said. “Napoleon’s brother-in-law was kept there. He was the King of Naples when they arrested him and help him captive.”
“Was he French?” I asked
“Yea, I think so.”
“Then why was he the Kind of Naples?”
He shrugged, “you want to go inside now?”
“Yea lets go! I have too many questions now.” I laughed and he laughed at me.
“You’re so curious”
“Well yea!” I said and found myself looking at the ground again to hide my blushing face. Although he probably couldn’t tell because the hot Italian sun made me a ripe tomato.
He grabbed my hand and pulled me. “Well you seem to be more excited than I am!”
“I’m curious too😊 the entrance is over here”
We entered into the musty, stone building, paid for our tickets and headed up. It took us through all kinds of cells, then to the torture chambers. All the manikins were the same face staring at us all creepy like. I was telling them to stop looking at me. As we started to climb more stairs we came across old weapons, uniforms and the story of the King of Naples. His name was Joachim Murat. Napolean employed him when he was a Captain in the French Army to help him take down the French Revolution. He went on plenty of campaigns with Napoleon, and through his gallantry and taking charge, he moved up the ranks. He was then given positions of leadership. After he finally became a General, Napoleon appointed Joachim as commandant of the consular guard and gave him his sister Caroline Bonaparte. So, he then became Napoleon’s brother-in-law. After 10 more years of military campaigns he became the General in Chief of the French Army of Spain and then he was given the throne of Naples.
He wanted to be good to the Italian people, but Napoleon insisted that he rule with the interest of France in mind. After a little while, the Kind of Naples began to see that the strength of Napoleon’s Army was weakening. He then signed a deal with Austria which would guarantee him his throne in Naples. He promised to denounce France and to defend Austria against France. Austria was only one country and the other allied nations wished to replace Joachim with Kind Ferdinand. Austria didn’t defend the King, so without Napoleon’s permission, Joachim took Napoleon’s army, attacked Austria in the name of Italian Unification, and well, he lost. He ran back to France and Napoleon turned his back on Joachim and banished him. Out of desperation he returned to Italy, landed in Pizzo, was immediately captured. He was then tried, sentenced to die, and executed. He actually stood straight up and pointed proudly to his heart in front of the firing squad as they shot him dead. The drawing they made of the incident showed that they executed him right outside his chamber door, where he was kept.
They had displayed the last letter he wrote to his family and it had me almost in tears. Then I read that it was never delivered. Heart breaking ending.
“You ok?” he asked me
“Yea, but that’s so sad, they never received the last note from their father, and then…” I walked out of the chamber and stood where he was standing. “He was shot right here!”
“How do you know?”
“The drawing is right here.” I pointed to it on the wall
“Oh wow, that is sad….Are you hungry?”
I rolled my eyes at him and laughed. “Yea I’m hungry, lets go!.”
We walked out and back to the square, got something to eat and then back to the car.
“I wish I had my drone right now. It would be cool to get a picture of this town.”
He looked around for a second and said, “Come with me.”
I followed him and we came to the gate of a construction site. He pulled it open.
“Can you fit?”
I squeezed through, “yep! You?”
“I’ll stay here and keep a lookout. You go find your photo.”
“Come here,” I said using my finger to motion him to me. He squeezed up to the fence and I kissed him on the cheek through the chain link and whispered, “Thank you.”
I took off, got my photo, and we went back to the car.
“What time do you have to work?” I asked
“in three hours. Is it ok if we head back”
“yea of course”
I found out he also manages a restaurant in the center (downtown) of the city. He worked there before he became a teacher and since being a teacher is seasonal, he helps manage during the busy tourist season.
“Will you come eat at my restaurant tonight?”
“Well yea of that sounds good.”
It is a classic Italian place. I loved the food here.
“Unfortunately, I have to work all day tomorrow, what will you do?”
“Well we are so close to Sicily, I wanted to go there for atleast a day.”
“Do you know where?”
“No?...” I said shyly.
“Well, my brother works at a hotel in Taormina, if you want to go there. I can tell him you’re coming. It has a beautiful view. It is an hour and a half by car. You have to take the boat over too.”
“Well, yea let me look it up and I will let you know tonight.”
“How you wish,” he smiled at me.
I love his smile. He has dimples and he looks so innocent. Stop it Shawn. You leave in 2 days you know….
Finally back in the hotel, I sat down editing photos and chilling out. It was 100 degrees out today.
His restaurant was called Il Convivio. It was located on a small historical alleyway of the city. I waited til the sun went down, showered, dolled myself up and headed there.
I found it! Cute place! Tables lined up on the street. Oh Oh this place is cool! I stood there looking for GianLuca. A waiter walked up to me…
“Are you alone?” he asked.
“We can’t serve you if you are alone.”
My jaw dropped and immediately I heard GianLuca
“Ma cosa dici?? Da quanto tempo lo didi alla gente?”
“Ci sentiamo dopo, Riccardo. Vai.”
He was not happy. “I’m really sorry.”
“It’s not a problem, you saved me.” I said huge grin across my face.
He smiled back, “well you, that dress is beautiful, as are you.”
He finally kissed me hello. I had on a very Greek looking white dress, tied low at the waist with a rope type belt. I could finally wear it. It’s meant for beach towns like Tropea.
“I’m going to put you at this table over here,” he said. “It’s a way from the chaos and I’ll be serving you.” He said this with a grin on his face.
“You sure you don’t want Riccardo to serve me?” I laughed.
“I should,” he responded, “but it’s my pleasure.”
It was lovely, he chose a red wine for me and I always order gnocchi when it’s available. I don’t remember what kind of meat I ate but it was cooked rare, and just melted in my mouth. He had come over so many times to make sure everything was good, make sure I had everything I needed. Refilled my wind and asked me if I wanted to try the cheesecake.
I almost told him I loved him at that point. My smile was so huge.
“I love cheesecake!” I repeated that in my head with every bite that I took.
Finally he asked if I decided to go to Taormina. I said “I would love to! I made a list of things to do and it looks beautiful!”
“Good!” he said “because I already told my brother you would come.” He smiled again…I really think he likes having me around.
“Do you have on your list the Teatro Greco?”
“I do!” I responded.
“Ok, his hotel is right next to that. It’s called Belmond Grand. Listen, I sent him money, I want you to get lunch there.”
My eyes got wide…”but you won’t be with me, why would you send money?”
“Don’t worry,” he smiled. “My brother knows what to do, ask for Enrico. I would send you this information but, well can I have your number?”
“Oh my God, you don’t have my number?? Wow…” I laughed. “How did we go all this time??”
I gave him my number and he showed me around the place. I didn’t want to be without him tomorrow but I had to, Sicily was a dream of mine. Never did I think I would be where I am or would be visiting the placed that I am visiting. My mind had some along way. I have come along way.
He pulled me in a little area where no one could see us. He grabbed my hands and kissed me properly on my lips. Finally, I said to myself. He grabbed my chin with his hand.
“Be careful tomorrow, I want you back here safe.”
“Don’t worry, I really want to see you again.” I responded. He kissed me again and we came out of hiding. Leaving him was hard but I had to get up early.
Off to Sicily I go!...