This week we were still on Lake Garda for the Italy versus Germany football – or as we Americans would say, soccer championship game. It began at 9pm and went into overtime. The neighbors were passionately loud, some even had horns quite like on New Year’s Eve. Germany won, which we understand is unusual when playing Italy.
The next day our native Italian friends picked us up and we had a snack in the town of Torre, where we also made a foto together in the same place where American friends of ours – who we had suggested to visit these Italian friends a few years ago – had also made a photo together. Yes, that is right, we learned that the Italians say, “make a photo, not “take a photo.” I think their choice of wording makes better sense.
We had our last three days in our beloved Italy with our friends in their beautiful home. We so enjoyed seeing some of their family members again, and, sharing more wonderful time together. Extra special was that we kept one half of a 21 year old promise to go to L’Arena together. We had heard of it from these friends when we had first met them on a train from Venice to Verona. They were traveling with their two sons – their younger daughter was with her Nonna and Nonno. Their children are all now masters and doctorate level students! Our friends had taught us then that this arena is the best preserved of all in the ancient Roman Empire, and near their home. We made a date then to see Romeo and Juliet together here some day. The other half of our promise must wait, because Romeo e Giulietta was not playing now. Instead, we saw Aida together!
This evening was a highlight of my life! It fulfilled part of a long-dreamed-of promise, the weather was perfect, the performance magnificent, and, to know that somewhere between 2,500-1,500 years ago some members of Roman society had also sat on the very same marble block seats. Fortunately our friends brought seat cushions for all of us! It was an incredible feeling. The performance was as if I were witnessing a live 1940’s Hollywood production. This company had even chosen to revert the production as it had been performed when L’Arena opened 103 years ago. And, for the first time, they displayed the words in Italian with English translations beneath them, shown on large screens along two sides of the arena. Bravo! Bravo!
Since this night was a life highlight for me, I want to mention too how the first two hours were too long because the libretto included more repetition than – I felt, was necessary. Perhaps that is why more modern versions had changed the performance. When the second act ended I had no idea how I would survive the next two, sitting on a stone seat, even with the cushion. However, for the second two hours I was so engrossed in the drama and the entourage on stage that, if there was any repetition, I was unaware of it. In all it was an awesome experience. I wish everyone could see this opera, and, in this spectacular setting. Oh, and, as it had begun at 9pm for the necessary effects of the dark sky, we were leaving L’Arena at 1am. It was all very well worth it!
How fun it was to also be in Italy for the Fourth of July! We enjoyed an American style BBQ one evening, which, like all the meals we enjoyed together, was outstanding.
We also had a memorable day hike with our friends with their delightful dog, on Monte Baldo. There were very few others on the trail, allowing the dog to be off leash for most of the time. It was joyful to see her escapades in that freedom.
One reflection I had as we prepared to leave Italy was how many smiles have come to me when noticing the cheerful colors that some Italian uomini – said woe-min-e – meaning men, which was initially quite confusing for me because it sounds so much like ‘women,’ and donne – said doh-nay, meaning women, wear. For example I am thinking of their bright powder blues, spring greens, olive greens, and vibrant shades of oranges or reds for their pants, and, rich pink shirts, or smart striped suit jackets with matching color solid shirt or pants. These are just a little of what I saw which was most refreshing and invigorating to see!
Our friends then drove us to the Bologna airport, where we enjoyed their delicious verdure – vegetable torte together picnic style, as they referred to us as “the Globe trotters.” We said our sad, hopeful arriverdverci – bye, see you agains!, before we went through security for our flights to Marrakech via Casablanca. Here are our friends’ nostalgic photos from when we met about twenty years ago:
We did not see Loren’s checked backpack among the baggage being loaded onto our second plane…
I have deeply experienced how music, smiles, and other facial expressions can overcome differences in language and culture. We shared some friendly smiles and gestures with a couple of the Moroccan travelers on our flights, though we speak no Arabic, Berber or French. Some speak Italian and many do speak English. My immediate impression was of our clothing differences – so many women were wearing headscarves, usually colorfully coordinated with their other clothing. Many men wear taqiyah – skull caps. Some of the men and the women wear long sleeve, floor length robes.
As it turned out, Loren’s backpack did not arrive with our flight…
Our first night in Marrakech was the one-day Eid – said eed, festival that follows Ramadan in Islam. So everything, including markets, were closed. We have a lovely, former Canadian AirBnB host, and, the driver she had found for us recommended the only restaurant he knew of that would be open. Our host joined us and it turned out to be – of all things – an Italian pizzeria!
There was no call that night about Loren’s backpack as we had hoped for from the airport…
On our first full day in Marrakech we visited Yves St Laurent’s gift to Marrakech, the Jardin Majorelle – Gardens of Majorelle. Thank you YSL! As for our trip to Morocco, my brother joked, “How can you resist when Loren says, ‘Come with me to the Casbah,’” which I am looking forward to doing later tonight, and a few times during our upcoming three week tour! We ended this week with finding the cafes in Marrakech lined with chairs full of fans facing large screen televisions, to watch the football match between Germany and France. France won, and in the grand finale France will face Portugal.
Our host and driver have been very helpful, and finally we learned that Loren’s luggage had now arrived on another flight. Our driver took us back to the airport to retrieve it. How fortunate that we were staying in Marrakech for three days – just long enough before our tour begins to claim it. Now Loren has his changes of clothes for the tour!
PLEASE NOTE: While this week we have internet, we may not have viable service in the countries we are visiting over the next three months. Please check back here, I will share my weekly post when and as often as I can.