Arrivederci Italia! We are camped on the ferry to Zadar, having staked our beds for the night on the navy blue lounges on the upper deck; farewell Ancona. We pull away from Adriatica’s western shore. The ship bells ring. The lights of the port blur through the rain on the ferry windows.
It is in Ancona I finally met Italia. The bustling port heavy with the business end of the Mediterranean, giant cranes overshadowing the old customs house that might once have been anything from a temple to a . . . well, a customs house. The town is full, generations of Italians roaming, strolling, wandering through the central streets and square. Thanks to Paolo Principi, tour guide at the paradoxically named Gallerie Art l’Moderne (I made that up, the sign says whatever is Gallery of Modern Art in Italian), the paradox being that the building itself is probably a thousand years old. Or 500. Geez, I dunno! I’m Australian. Nothing at our place is much more than 150 years old.
Paolo speaks six languages and is more fluent in English than anyone else in Christendom who picked up the language from six books and 37 tapes. Although, as an aside, I think there are more Italians in Ancona per capita speaking English than elsewhere in Italia . . . or perhaps the rest make a point of not trying very hard. Like the French, says a Dutch friend scornfully.
Paolo makes sure we understand that his name means ‘little prince’. Little Prince Paolo of Ancona. He wears a wooden cross around his neck and, over lunch (we finally discover where Italians go during siesta), Paolo offers us his religio-spiritual philosophy in one line and a chuckle:
We are all sons of a neverending love.
We had a productive day filming and bringing my new Mac up to speed. And we had a fantastic farewell supper in Italia, right there at the port while we were waiting for the ferry . . . pizza with anchovies and roasted eggplant, salad as fresh as anyone could make (no tired bits!) and a celebratory tiramisu.
My last act in Italia was to succumb to the purchase of a comb. I confess, that as well as traveling shampoo-free, I am traveling comb-free. This was why I cut my hair, to not have the bother of things and weight . . . but then the hairdresser didn’t cut it all off . . . three weeks with no comb and my hair’s a bit rough . . . amazing what a few fingers through the hair can do . . . trouble is, if I comb it now it will probably stick straight up. And out.
Paolo tells us Pescara was not bombed in the Second World War and was not previously a city, but a small fishing village expanded for expedience by the Fascists, around the same time as Americans began rocking around the clock . . . I forget to ask whether he thinks Pescara was sacked by Romans or raided by Lombards or conquered by Rainaldo Orsini and Louis of Savoy et al.
Stories. Lenses. Prisms.
Ancona, he says, was bombed in the war, then rebuilt and restored. He shows us the old church . . . I can’t remember its name. We have already photographed it, captivated by its antiquity and its stories of the ages embedded in the stone, indivisible to us, son and daughter of the New World. With his trademark chuckle Paolo tells us the stone angels were stolen from Constantinople a millennium ago.