to their home. Like the others it too was near the verge, perched in a cleared flattened space alongside the road. However, unlike the other homes we'd passed, if not a paradise on earth, it wasn't far removed. It was more than simply a home, more like a compound, an estate. Giuseppe swung open the gate and we drove inside onto a drive of brown and blue-gray stone slabs expertly cemented together that ended at an ageless, knurly olive tree. There were two buildings inside the terraced enclosure, one higher, closer to the road, then the other. The larger of the two, actually two stories high, was made of dappled stone and had all of a classic Tuscan charm about it ... elegant iron accents, terracotta roof tiles, stone accents. The other, elegant, smaller, where we would stay, saw it neighbor’s stone exterior replaced by yellow, rough plastered walls. Both had covered terrace appendages that commanded a gasp of a view toward the sea off in the distance. All either lacked was the lazy drape of flowering wisteria. They were surrounded by of all things, almost out of place here, a manicured emerald green lawn, perfectly cut in stark contrast to the gray color of the surrounding terrain. Prickly pear cactus plants, some sprouting from barrels, added a Mediterranean mood to the landscape.
game while Giuseppe and Stefania were at work preparing dinner in the kitchen. It was about then that the hand-off of my now cherished Tenuta Cavalier Pepe apron occurred. Later when all was ready, outside beneath a sleepy sky under a portico supported by brick piers, we ate come una familia (like a family) in the fading light of evening to a view that only stopped at the horizon. Our pleasant meal together concluded, we were soon off first to upper Castellabate followed afterwards by a roll down switchback roads for gelato as we promenaded through lower Castellabate. First, however, we had some visitors who turned out to be the lay and religious leaders of the local church in nearby Perdifumo.
the main concourse, we came upon kiosks lit with strings of lights. They offered gifts, crafts and food items typical of the area. There was a book seller among them whose mood quickly changed from affable to, if I am to remain polite, outright surly. This was after I’d leafed through his offerings. I hadn't purchased anything, and as I tried to explain, only because they were in Italian. Maybe by thumbing through them as I had, and not buying anything, I’d violated some rule. It just might be similar to that inviolate rule of Italian vegetable stores where the customer is never to touch a fruit or vegetable. It’s definitely a no-no. Only on your turn, as you point to the tomato or the particular head of lettuce you want, will the attendant, with gloved hand, touch the produce. Maybe there was a sign I’d missed, the equivalent to that familiar warning that usually proclaims, “If you break it, you own it”, only in this case cautioning, “If you leaf through it, it’s yours”. In any case, it had been strange business, disquieting. Continuing along, we circled around the battlements and looked out over the lower seaside village, our next destination, whose twinkling outline bordered the timeless coastline echoed in Homer's Odyssey.
immediately drawn to the wood planked floors, chestnut I thought, and from there to the thick walls of stone with the cement recessed just enough to be able to grab hold of a stone's edge. A three handled machine, its levers long enough to make you think they were draft beer taps, sat to one side of the counter. It was the hiss from its steam wand that put that thought out of my mind, for instead, here was a state-of-the-art espresso machine. Instead of beers, we ordered coffees! The wall was interrupted by an arching doorway bordered by a thick white, very white, plastered edge. This opening led to an adjacent room that with the wide door treatment, like a halo, gave the feeling you were entering a church, at least a chapel. In my irreverence I wondered if by my presence there, it just might count as some sort of dispensation seeing the church was locked and none of us had attended Mass that day. I was wrong about it being a church or chapel, and likewise about any chance of a dispensation, for although there were built-in, pew-like bench seats with cushions lining the walls, the room was absent an altar. Instead, opposite the entry rose a wall of wine bottles accented with wine glasses hanging by their stems. Assorted tables and chairs accounted for the rest of the space. It was obvious this place had known some good times and certainly had to be the place in town for social gatherings, refreshments and entertainment.
built-in along its edge, similar to a silo, we came upon a long public fountain. This rectangular fountain, sheltered beneath a sloping roof supported by three drooping arches, had been in service long before the Antica Caffetteria served its first customer. This was Fontana Pubblica con Lavatoio del 1500. Still in operation some 500 years later, its cool waters still flowed from the hillside into boxlike troughs along its back wall. With little room overhead to toss a coin over my shoulder I nevertheless took the opportunity to sample the water as it flowed from a pipe in the wall. Would I return someday? I'd have to wait and see, hopefully not too long.
as far as your eye could see. There was a boardwalk leading toward the water's edge lined with the Lido Mirage's particular standards— yellow umbrellas and blue-gray lounge chairs. Un-noticed by us, our hosts had made arrangements for two individual stands, our cohort just behind theirs. Having now joined this beach family, some satisfied to soak, others to swim, many to stroll, some simply preferring to lay back, sit and sag, it wasn't long before we were soaking in the sea ourselves, and afterwards to read as we dried under our umbrella, assured of remaining in the shade.