I roam some of the hills of Italy

“There are so many hills,” my husband remarked as he drove our jet-legged bodies down the highway from Rome towards Sorrento. There was the face turned outward, as though in warning. Harshly cut with chiseled lines furrowing brows guarding a pyramidal peak. The impulse to leap through the veil tangibly irresistible. We all saw them, even my mother-in-law, which surprised me a bit.  Perhaps it should not have. We are not so crazy as we may seem, even to ourselves. We have just forgotten.

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A view from the car. This mountain face looks tranquil lifted to the sky. 

Everywhere I looked the earth rose in sometimes sharp, and sometimes gentle undulations, leading a pathway to the magnificent turquoise sea.

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The roads of man wrap the body of the rocky Amalfi coast, but the breath-taking beauty belongs to the land and the sea.

In my sleep-deprived state, I found myself slipping beyond the familiar and into the hazy space of that magical realm too rarely ventured my our modern day minds. The hills called to me, and I followed their faces as our vehicle wizzed along. History records itself in these beings of slow time. And, more than anything else I read power. I was, after all, in the land of the Romans.

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The magnificent remains of the Colosseum standing for nearly 2,000 years.

The mountains, though, hold a power that belongs not to man, but to Earth. We have been here long before you and will be long after…

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The volcanic mountain, Vesuvius, watches over the crowded city of Naples which is built over cities buried by its fiery blood.

In the year 79 AD, more than 1,000 people, and countless animals, died from the eruption of Vesuvius, yet it is believe that the serpentine mountain whose mouth spouts forth deadly fire a  few times each century, was greatly revered by those that fell to its mighty flames. A god of protection, perhaps, not so much of the people, but of the land. Now, below its summit, which last erupted in 1944, 2 million people live in its shadow as though they have forgotten the thousands of lives that it has taken during its reign of power.

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The ghosts of Pompeii haunt the remains of their lost city. “We tried to hide here among the already dead” they whispered to me. The futility of their hold pulled my limbs through their layered graveyards.

I was surprised later in our trip, when we climbed its sides by car, then walked out to take in its vast energy, by how tranquil I felt. Almost as though I was being held in the arms of a lover.

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Birds hover in the foreground of Vesuvius. Below, spring’s growth waves with the wind.

Yet eyes watched my trespassing footsteps, and those of the hundreds who joined us that day on the body of the mountain. Eyes belonging to inhuman forms beyond the grasp of our naive minds.  Reminding me that I walked the body of a god, or perhaps more aptly put, goddess…

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Baby serpents, spawn from Vesuvius’s last eruption, watch its many visitors.

 

 

 

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