Rome, last August: First, there was the sprint for the train to Ortebello. We headed towards the sea on blue vinyl seats as dogs paraded up the aisle and a little girl exhaled bits of crisps onto my arm. My mother met me at Capalbio station. I introduced her to my new friend Angus. We drove to a beach and then to a house just outside Pitigliano. The clouds had cleared so we picked up my sister and headed to the hot springs at Saturnia. (The Terme are a series of waterfalls and rocky springs surrounded by rolling Tuscan hills.) Revived, we got back in the car and listened to Elvis with the windows open and the summer air rushing in. My sister pulled over and we all leapt out to pick blackberries on the side of the road. That night we went to Il Talismano in Sorono where I ate a pizza bianca (no tomato sauce) with slivers of zucchini garnished with fresh mint leaves.
On Sunday my sister drove us to the Vie Cave. We walked along to the ancient Etruscan paths in the morning fog. Massive walls of mossy rock rose up on either side of the narrow path. The afternoon was even more exciting…
My mother surprised us with an excursion on Lake Bolsena. She rented a little boat and we sped out to the forbidden island with beautiful ruins. After driving for a bit, my mother gave Angus the role of captain, and she began painting the island. We paused by a statue of a lion carved in the rocks so my sister could take pictures with her medium format camera. We took turns jumping off the boat into the water. The sun warmed my skin as I lay down and drank the blue sky. Back on shore, we ate ice cream cones and sipped icy granites.
That night we had fantastic pizzas at La Tavernetta in Savona. My pizza Russa was covered in several kinds of cheese, sautéed onions and a splash of vodka. Back at the house, we drank Negronis around the kitchen table and ate the last of the blackberries. They tasted better staining our fingers by the side of the road.