This is a Reflections on Italy guest blog from one of the amazing women who participated in my Italy Retreat in the Italian Riviera, September 12-20. Sallee writes on her Sparks on the Fringe blog.
A psychic friend of mine once told me that my eternal life path is aesthetics – that aesthetics is what I live and breathe for. Perhaps that is why I love Italy so much. Italy is home to some of the greatest art on the planet with its art museums, sculptures, churches, representing centuries of artistic achievement. Think of the Renaissance, Michelangelo, Da Vinci.Some of the most glorious art ever created was created in Italy. But to me it is more than that. On my trip with Lenora and company to the Cinque Terre, we didn’t spend our time in museums or visiting noted architectural masterpieces. We weren’t there for the art, but I couldn’t help but feel that I was immersed in a particular aesthetic experience.
It began when I saw the rows of dark green cypress trees neatly lining the fields of the countryside.Amidst the beautiful lush greens of late summer fields are houses and farmsteads of terracotta and gold. On the train ride out from Milan, everything seems so orderly and coherent, but also fluid and organically nestled into the rolling landscape.
Arriving in Monterosso, the scene is festive. It’s a hot Saturday afternoon and everyone is at the beach. Orange and white striped umbrellas snake along the back of the beach in an undulating curve, and the Mediterranean Ocean pulls back turquoise to a deep marine out to the horizon and upward into the blue dome.The soft earthy peaches and pinks of the houses of Monterosso climb in a seemingly random arrangement up the hillside under vineyards and forests at the top.
Against this backdrop of sublime color and beauty, another aesthetic is moving and breathing – the one of the life of an Italian village.After supervising the salting of the “acciuge” (anchovies) tenderly layered in the chunky glass jars, a local restaurateur, “Ciak”, is out for a walk with his dog before the dinnertime crowds fill his outdoor café for mussels and spaghetti or fish soup or the giant bowls of insalata mista.
Around the corner at Pizzeria Ely the grandchildren of the owner are playing in the street while grandpa oversees his operation making sure the waiters tend to their guests, and the florist next door is wrapping potted plants with a green wire mesh and pink raffia making sure it is absolutely perfect and impeccable before she is ready to let it go out the door.It is life in the details, and pride in the details of every moment that defines this aesthetic for me. No one is hurried, no one is willing to sacrifice their sense of ease and perfection – everyone moves with grace, beauty, and calmness. There is no hint that it is otherwise.I imagine that even the woman, shouting her tirade at someone from a hidden room up above us in one of the houses up the hill, is only angry because something was done in haste and not with perfection and in the spirit of La Dolce Vita.
Sallee Haerr Reflections on Italy blog http://sparksonthefringe.blogspot.com/
Photo: Photo: preparing flowers, and Ciak, the chef at Ristorante Ciak
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