It’s odd I know, but some of my favorite vacation memories are of rainy days. I’m not sure what that says about me, but these are the memories that warm my heart and stay with me far longer than long days spent in the sunshine with shared laughter.
A couple of favorite memories:
The summer when six of us 20-something girls all flew into Savannah for a weekend of fun, and spent a rainy day relaxing and sharing life stories on a cozy intimate veranda, playing cards and sipping wine.
An afternoon vacationing in the Dolomites when I truncated a hike due to an eye irritation. Relaxing on the tiny deck of our hotel; legs propped up; warm compress on my eyes; it began to softly rain. Not able to see it, I smelled it’s heavy freshness coming, heard the first tentative drops fall on the leaves of trees around us, and felt the wisps of an occasional spray blown by a soft breeze onto my arm. I felt protected and sheltered by a light blanket over me, and by my husband quietly reading beside me. Being dependent on someone doesn’t come easily to me, but I savored the comfort I found in that moment of complete trust.
Today was such a day. I didn’t sleep much last night, and threw some clothes on this morning as I stumbled across the hall to knock on a fellow traveler’s door to bail on a trip planned for today to visit some hill towns in the northern Liguria region of Italy, outside San Remo. A scant four hours of sleep under my belt, I just couldn’t face a day in a van, whipping around narrow winding mountain roads with 10 fellow Italian students, when all I wanted was to spend the morning quietly dozing in bed. When I left the hotel in search of lunch around 2:00 this afternoon, a gentle rain was falling, with faint rolling thunder in the distant hills. I found a restaurant on a lightly travelled alley where I could sit outside, sheltered by an awning, and watch people scurrying with their umbrellas up the street. I brought a book to read, but it mostly lay on my table; a half forgotten prop, as I relaxed over a light , comforting lunch of Cozze di Marinara (mussels in marinara sauce) and soaked up the life flowing around and through me. To my vast relief, I was able to speak Italian well enough in ordering my meal that the waitress responded with rapid Italian as I asked if I could have a glass of the wine that appeared to be only available by the ½ bottle. As I listened to the chatter of people conversing around me in Italian, French and German, I felt completely part of the scene. My meal done, I was about to ask for my check, when the rain suddenly picked up fairly dramatically. My umbrella ensconced on the bed of my very dry hotel room where I unthinkingly left it, I submitted to the rhythm of the afternoon, and ordered a macchiato decaffeinato* (essentially a small decaf cappuccino). And so instead of thinking regretfully about missing a day in the hill towns with friends today, I spent a simple hour after lunch,sipping a macchiato, and practicing my Italian grammar, while I waited for the rain to abate. A simple but sublime moment before the wonderful chaos of traveling ramps back up tomorrow.
Note: There is a complicated (to the Western eye) social political correctness around The Religion of Coffee here in Italy. Italians take their coffee very seriously, and it has become a part of their living culture. Here’s a link to a site that outlines the 10 commandments of ordering and drinking coffee in Italy you may want to keep in mind for your next trip here. In short, any caffé (which is to say, espresso) drink made with steamed milk is reserved strictly for the morning with a light breakfast. Steamed milk on a stomach full with food is just not done. However, if you want a caffé after a leisurely lunch or dinner, the waiters don’t appear to be aghast if you order a Caffé Macchiato. This is an espresso drink that is ‘marked’ with a dash of steamed milk.