He took us first to Monte San'd Angelo, where Marie's family was from. I was disappointed because the men who walked the village each afternoon between five and six o'clock would not let her walk along, but she was thrilled by the duomo beneath the mountain and renewed her relationship with Jesus. No one in town spoke English so it was hard to even order anything to eat. The old men paraded up and down the streets smoking cigarettes while the old women went to church and prayed for all our souls. Again it was a good thing Michael drove. The streets are very confusing, winding all around the hills and always seeming to end up where they began.
Then Michael took us to Ravello where my family lived way back when. Even Michael seemed frightened by driving along the Amalfi coast. If you don't fall into the sea, you run into the mountain. Miss the mountain and die under the wheels of a bus. No place on earth could be more beautiful and to my surprise I discovered a connection with the music of Richard Wagner.
Some of Wagner's original manuscripts are in the cathedral and there was the family name at the bottom of the pages. We didn't write the notes but we printed the scores. All the fashionable people of Europe go to Ravello. We met people from Switzerland, England, France, Germany, and a wild family of Scots. The Germans were as rude in person as they were in the family history. Since the town is built on the side of a mountain that rises straight up out of the sea, it was a bit difficult to get around. Michael suggested motorbikes but we were both afraid to take on the local drivers and roads. Besides, we're both way too big for those tiny things. So mostly Marie and I walked the town piazza for a couple of hours a day and then sat on the balcony of our hotel and looked down at the sea and up at the mountains. It was easy to see why Wagner chose dramatic opera. A few people spoke English and Michael learned enough Italian to get us by in the restaurants.
We came back through Rome; we thought we might as well see it while we were in the neighborhood. But I think I won't bother reporting what happened there. Enough to say, I don't recommend that town to anyone.
None of the family tall tales will be passed on to anyone anymore. Without the Tour we would have both moved on believing everything we had ever heard about Italy. Marie found her God while I found a truer history, a truer self, if you will. Life in Philly seems much changed, much for the better.
Marie and I probably have only a short time left. But we are paying attention to other things these days. Things we think are more important than the twisted tales of great Italian heroes. We spend time with each other, family and friends. We drink red wine these days, no more cheap beer, eat a lot of tomatoes and olive oil, and focus on what we still have.
We lost one other thing on our Tour. We both came back nearly ten pounds lighter. Something about the olive oil and basil in the diet seems to have agreed with me, for now. I guess a bit of hill walking may not have hurt. I should have dumped those old stories and embraced the diet years ago.
Terminal Tours gave us something new and unfamiliar to think about.