So we find ourselves in one of the most enchanting spots of all of Italy: Positano, on the Amalfi coast. It's warm and sunny and the lemons are in harvest and of course the limoncello flows freely. We were in a mercato last evening, each of us selecting our personal bottle of limoncello as we are not ones to share. Angela, la angelli della sorelli, decides to go with the private reserve limoncello on the shelf. It's in a non-descript hourglass bottle with AMALFI stenciled in Sharpie and she laughs and laughs at it, next to all kinds of limoncello in decorative bottles and fancy labels. She is affirmed in a rather unique way as we check out and the checker rings up her bottle, casting a sidelong glance with an 'eh?' to her homeboys sitting nearby as she carefully sacks up the homebrew limoncello. The taste tests have not been scheduled for lack of sign up.
My children have inherited the gift of making friends with locals. They see how easy it is and how you are treated as a honored guest in any city when you extend yourself in friendship and respect. At gelato last night, after I wished the man Buon Anno, we were immediately treated to samples of every kind of gelato he sold, all delicious. Today, I have been laid up with with an airplane flu and my family is amazed that in Italy, if you make friends, you can order whatever you like, whether or not it's on the menu. They brought back a veritable feast of pasta, vegetables and fabulous minestrone soup for me; the Italians bend over backwards for you, even in the off season, to make sure you feel at home. La dolce vita. It's real.
Many of you are wondering about Mass: yes, we did get in. Yes, I ran up the ramp and got up wonderful seats where we saw the whole mass. Benedict, The Holy Father, looked tired and serious. Gave a wonderful homily. It's a thrill and a reassurance that words cannot describe. It was quite disturbing to see everyone at mass treat him like a rock star, standing on chairs to snap photos, inside St. Peter's, and leaving before he had exited the center aisle. I can only liken it to coming out of a theater in New York in 2001 December and watching two couples from Kansas say to each other, "What do you want to do now? Go listen to jazz uptown or go down to Ground Zero?" Even midnight mass at Vaticano is a tourist attraction. But now I know. Next time we'll go to Il Jesu.
We were fortunate to have a marvelous guide at St. Peter's the next day; she also has many friends--she got us backstage, The Crying Room at Sistina. It was unreal. Joe Montana cried. This is the room where The Pope goes immediately after he is elected to cry, to pray and to suit up. The stairway to the balcony where he appears to the people for the first time is right there. It was an unbelievable stroke of good luck. Our tour guide told me she asked because she knew it meant much to us. MUCH. much? La dolce vita.
And so 2007 looms and we march toward that beautiful silk carpet of months that awaits our kickstart , unrolling into a new year.
La dolce vita.