They weren’t the first words I spoke to Stephen, but they were the first marinated in mustering up the courage to ask him out and bump uglies already. We were seated in the back of Mr. Duffy’s classroom, me having just royally failed my senior AP History midterm, due largely in part to already being accepted into art school and also because I was distracted by my first real, bawling-in-my-car-outside-Kenny’s-house teenage breakup. I had turned 180 in my seat to face him and breathily proposition an afternoon date: You. Me. Voracious ripping of meat from bone. Red hot smacking of lips. Guys like girls who can eat, I read in a Cosmopolitan once and had inferred from those “didn’t age well” mid-2000’s burger & beer commercials starring chesty bottle blondes and a firehose, inexplicably.
“Naples is just like New York City, in that it offers no grace period to adjust…”
Ask anyone and they would tell you that cities like Rome, Florence, and Venice are, hands down, bucket list items. You gotta see the canals! The Sistine Chapel! The statue of David! they would echo like that nasally woman in Seinfeld (“You gotta see the baby!”) For me, it’s Naples.
“…even birds skittering for morsels on the ground are moving too fast for the slumbering pace of Atrani’s daily agenda.”
At the foot of Piazza Umberto lies a scallop shell white church dating back to the 10th century, unassuming curb appeal compared to the other gaudy, baroque-era cathedrals in Italy. A sign outside warns of a local legend that it’s bad luck for newlyweds to walk hand-in-hand down its steps post-nuptials, lest you bring ill-will upon your marriage and curse yourself for a rocky road ahead of early divorce and untimely death.
“A city as exciting and cultural and historic and artistic as this…it’s meant to be earned.”
Adriatic waters calmly splash against the ritzy yachts in the harbor. Preteens scheme in the plaza, wreaking havoc outside an ongoing mass, “bicicletas!” at their hips. A chorus line of soaring palm trees separates the new town from the old. Impregnable stone walls as ancient as dirt protect the cathedral of San Nicola from the revelers convening at bar-hop row. Old women use their thumbprints to meticulously form individual orecchiette, lay them out to dry on folding tables outside their homes. The business district of banks and office buildings makes way for a wide esplanade of high end fashion stores and expensive steakhouses. Beggars roam the streets, boldly approach outdoor diners, gently place roses on tables in exchange for some coin. Potbellied men bake their epidermises in Speedos at Bread & Tomato Beach (Pane & Pomodoro to locals). This is Bari, pronounced ‘Bah-di’, and it was, without a doubt, my favorite part of Italy.
“…surrendering fully to Montezuma’s ever-present air of namaste.“
Air sickness, long overnight layovers, sketchy car rentals, misinterpreting the colones to dollars conversion, sand fleas, planes grounding for inclement weather, getting lost on Costa Rican back roads, screaming geckos while trying to sleep, missing our ferry, barely making check-in times, and a near-deadly stomach virus mere weeks before the trip were just a few things that plagued our one-week vacation to Costa Rica. But it was just what the doctor ordered.