Updated: Jun 25, 2022
Was there a flash sale on Mediterranean travel that I missed? All of the people are having fun without me, strolling in their espadrilles and sun hats, sipping spritzes and swan diving into the soft blue water of the Mediterranean or the Adriatic. Once I get past my FOMO and petty jealousies I hope, from deep inside, that my people are able to truly hear the Cicadas, smell the lavender and Boulibase and see the old men, bent like walking sticks, reaching to pick up their Pétanque.
I hope they take off their suits and dive deep into the clear turquoise waters . That they buy Milka bars for their train rides. The fast trains that woosh past the old clocks and buttresses and living walls on the corner bistros out of town into the hills patched green and tan and marked on the horizon by olive trees wending to the sun.
Do they have a Pastis in their hand or an Aperol Spritz? I think, do they know abut the walk through the lemon orchards south of Sorrento or the small white-washed shoe store at the bottom of the Spanish steps? The one with 9 pair of expertly stitched English-Tan shoes sitting on their brick stands on the white wall. I feverishly pass on notes about Gelaterias in Piazza Navona and small shops on the Via dei Condotti where one would, in years past, buy a special regimental striped tie or badger hair brush and shave soap. Two old -standard, maybe archaic, but still iconic markers of manhood.
Do they feel the sun turning their skin from white to carmel. I want for them to have wine at lunch and feel amorous enough to change plans so that they can go to their room to make love with the windows open to hear the horns and the waves below.
A friend from High school is in Rome then later in Florence and Venice. She sends pictures with her perfectly dimpled family on the Ponte Vechio, eating Gelato. She has fallen into the rhythm of Italy, filled with the bitterness of Aperol and the sweetness of Stracciatella and all of it sun tanned and sandaled looking 18 again.
I pass on reads based on where clients are that day. The obvious, "A Year In Provence," if a client is near Menerbes or cycling past Lacoste, north of the clear blue waters of Nice but south of the Ochre dirt of Roussillon. I can hear the Cicadas and see the Citrons parked under top heavy Cyprus trees. I mention "Mediterannean Summer," a wonderful read about a young Chef cooking al fresco meals for his Billionaire clients along the Med. There are Gore Vidal's writings penned during his salubrious- sexual times in Rome and Ravello and Hemingway's "Garden of Eden," where he toyed with androgyny and polyamory but always as a silly writers block diversion during the afternoon after a swim. In the morning he drank Americanos, weaving his Vespa along Belle Epoch facades and pebbly beaches and Picasso mustachioed men moving past with calm bravado or sloppy drunkenness depending on the hour.
One Group sends pictures from Chateau Eza, overlooking Michelin starred plates north toward Menton and further to San Remo and Portofino with its little Coves and pastel villas on the hillside above. Clanking china and toasted Negronis chatter down from the Belmond Splendido, resting on the negative ions of the still flat morning water. Other Clients are In Bellagio. I beg them to stroll through the Botanical gardens south to the public beach made of round light stones, a swimming dock and the view of the Dolomites to the north and the Alps past Lago di Maggiore in Switzerland to the west.
I remember 6 Mossad agents exiting a long wooden Riva Aquarama, ahead of a strolling Shimon Peres when we were there last. We made note only to return to our martinis. Sitting at Hotel Villa Serbelloni, I made the top of my martini equal Lake Como's water line so the mountains and clouds created a tiny alcoholic diorama. Everything tilt-shifted and perfect.
On Hvar, I mention Dubovica- go early. Sail to Vis or the Paklenis. On Mallorca, I talk up the walk from Soller to Deia, with special mention to hit Cala de Deia to swim before the Uphill to Belmond La Residencia where Olive trees surround a pool pushed into the groin of limestone mountains and the bronze half light of happy hour makes things more unreal than real. I push to rent a Zodiac to explore the blue coves east of Cala d' Or looking up the Sandsotone cliffs to Hotel Can Simoneta's green grass and pines.
There are Sardinia and Corsica, Isle de Hyere and Budva, Corfu and Kefalonia, The Ballerics and Barcelona. Lemons hanging from Pergolas wrapped by wisteria. A sandal Cobler. A lady sweeping the bluestones at her door. Echoing voices above hanging whites. Steam from Fruita Di mare and the sea smell. It is a dream.
Mostly, I want them to experience the time after dinner when the Absinthe in the brain and the Jasmine in the nose mingle to create a moment. They walk slowly next to sienna buildings with black shutters next to crooked brick facades partially undressed by war or time or humid decay. A single, tall palm pierces the purple sky. They stroll into the night that smells of mustard and grapes and drying grass. She puts her head on his shoulder and he smells the sun screen mixed with perfume in the hair he has known for decades. In one second he realizes why they do everything they do. It is this moment in this place they have sought all long.