Sunlight filters through achromatic curtains that blow ever so slightly in a breeze all but undetectable save for the movement of the fabric. It’s warm and I think that is why I’ve woken up but it’s not too warm. And I’m not freezing like I was back in England, wrapped in no less than four layers at a time.
Danté stirs beside me and the smile that lights up his face almost makes me cry. He is happier here than I have seen him since Paris. Since we met, even. Still himself, yet different.
I hear movement in the common area outside our door and I want to know what time it is but instead I enjoy laying beside my love, while being in Italy. I don’t know how many times in my lifetime I will have the chance to do so.
Eventually we both get up and face the day, not dawdling because we don’t want to face the day but due to the fact that we’re on what feels like vacation, even though I will have to write about our experience later. For Danté’s sake I never want to rush him in a way that would spoil the bubble and it’s a good lesson for me, a chance to actually savor a place and not check it off an itinerary handed to me by a client. I think for a fleeting moment how I could get used to being on vacation and then I realize I’ve never excelled at stillness. It’s yet another part of me that I hope will grow and change for the better in this new season of my life; being in love.
We’re in an apartment in Bologna, in an older part of the city not far from the university area.It’s perhaps the heart of what is the Emilia Romagna region of a country I’ve been to several times and still don’t fully understand. Every time I return I find myself loving it more though, and for that reason more than any other I had to bring Danté. It’s also his first extended visit in the country that he owes so much of his heritage to, his name, the recipes and techniques his father taught him in the kitchen, maybe even his handsome face I am falling for more every day….
We develop a routine. Because I am still dealing with health issues that began in England, we don’t do anything that could really make me more sick than I am. I don’t eat as much gelato or pasta as I’d like to and I only take sips of his wine even though I’d like to have a large glass all to myself at every meal. Instead, we wander.
Out the door of our second floor apartment we slip, locking the door with the strangest key I’ve ever held, and moving from the luminous light of our temporary home into the strange gloom of our stairway down to the heavy front door that spits us into an intersection where our preferred coffee shop awaits us.
I’ve decided Kamit Express is my favorite coffee shop I have ever been to as we sit and drink a cappuccino that needs no sugar. This has never happened to me, this void of a need for sweetener. I smile, and Danté is smiling too.Out that door too we slip, after we’ve finished our simple breakfast and exchanged pleasantries with Alessia in our limited Italian. Her smile is a wonderful accompaniment to our morning routine. Off we go to explore the historic streets, narrow alleys and porticos of Bologna as we have been doing every day. It’s not exotic, adventurous in a way they make movies about or even terribly exciting. Instead, it is the best form of bonding I’ve ever known. Our wandering together is better than any wandering I have done alone, hand in hand, slow and purposeful without purpose.We slowly climb the 498 stairs to the top of Bologna’s tallest tower. The magnificent view from the top causes us both to take our longest pause thus far and we each steal photos of the other in the sunlight. Only when we’re midway down, after taking in the view, does Danté decide he wants to make a movie of our experience. Like an expert director, instead of a rookie, he guides me to walk down stairs, to mug for the camera, to exit from the tower triumphant. He sometimes exhibits a brow furrowed in frustration and yet his eyes sparkle with joy.We already have a favorite gelato place and it is right near the tower so we indulge in my favorite Italian dessert and the cool sweetness of the velvety treat seems to cause the words to just slip out of my mouth, “I could live here.” Danté laughs audibly but doesn’t disagree, and I smile.Down the side of a broad avenue, under another one of Bologna’s seemingly endless porticos we stroll, arm in arm until an outfit in the window of a boutique catches my eye and window shopping we go, on the interior side of the glass!
Eventually, I will buy a gauzy scarf and a blue bikini with delicate lace. Danté will find a pair of shoes to fall in love with, which the store doesn’t have in his size. (And I will google them endlessly back in the USA, to see if I can procure them from across the ocean for a Birthday or Christmas surprise.)
Sometimes we return to the apartment in time to prepare a communal dinner with our housemates Dave, Deb and Christina. On those nights, I look about the room and feel thankful to be surrounded by good people in a city I appreciate in a country I have deep affection for. In those moments, I suspect I might drown in blessing.Once we stop for supper in a cafe and though it’s a simple meal, I will always remember it. We each order risotto and it prompts a discussion about cooking at home in New York. (As it happens, Danté has a talent for cooking risotto.) A vase of orange flowers seems to insulate us from those who pass by on the street.I notice a pattern eventually emerging, during our days of exploration; we’re both drawn to photographing the architecture, the churches and the crumbling facades of Bologna’s oldest sections.
One day we very accidentally discover an ancient cloisters behind a church we pass every day, on the way home, because I notice a salmon wall with an aquamarine Volkswagen just outside a doorway we’ve never taken notice of.I think it is when we are wandering those halls that we both say, instead of separately, at the same time: “I could live in Bologna and just explore every day.”Danté stirs beside me in the dusk of a late night and I hold him a little tighter as he says, “I don’t want to think about going home.” My last thought before I surrender to sleep is that, La Vita è Bella a Bologna [life is beautiful].
Our apartment in Bologna was provided by the Emilia-Romagna Tourism Board as part of the #BlogVille campaign created by iAmbassador. As always, my thoughts and opinions here are entirely my own.