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Never Any Secrets

Yesterday on my way to town I stopped by the garden. That’s me in the picture, watering the olive trees last summer. Elena happened to be there, standing next to her new white truck, talking on her cell phone. She smiled broadly, and threw me a kiss. I waited until she finished her conversation. I saw the place was now vastly overgrown with weeds and stands of cane. Lots of lemons still hung heavily on the trees, and on top of the low stone pumphouse sat Maurice, a half-wild cat who looked like he owned the place.

Later Elena told me about renting one of her apartments last week to three Americans—two girls and a guy—who apparently stayed inside the whole three-day visit. They drank, danced, broke bottles, and made a huge mess. They never bothered to visit the Poseidon Spa, or the spring at Nitrodi, or the big mushroom-shaped volcanic rock in the bay at Lacco Ameno, or the Villa Arbusto museum to see the famous ancient Greek Nestor's Cup, on which is scratched one of the earliest examples of alphabetical writing, or even Castello Aragonese atop a a massive trachyte crag opposite Ischia Ponte, where Renaissance poet Vittoria Colonna held literary court and wrote achingly lovely verses to her always absent husband.

No, those wild kids weren’t at all interested in any of this. “So I wonder," Elena said, "what was the point in their coming all the way from Boston to Ischia? They could have done the same thing at home, at much less expense.”

Then Elena described the accident that occurred yesterday in Panza, a small village south of Forio. At three in the morning a guy fell asleep at the wheel of his Mini and knocked down a portion of the green tuffa wall surrounding one of her villas. A great advantage of living on a tiny island like this is there are never any secrets, and nothing--absolutely nothing--goes unnoticed. Within an hour Elena got telephone calls from neighbors who reported the accident to her, along with the guy’s name, his address, phone, and license plate numbers. Plus when the sun rose the guy’s father called and apologized for his son’s irresponsible behavior. A couple of stonemasons, he said, are on their way right now to repair the damage.

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wow we are truly the ugly americans!!!



Most of the tourists who come to Ischia are German, and they often come across as demanding, parsimonious, and rude. Americans are seen as rare, therefore interesting. Italians? My impression is that they have, deep down, an authentic sweetness and tolerance. Thus you rarely hear them complain about the Germans, or anyone else. They know and fully appreciate that foreigners are here to spend money!

ahh awesome.. where exactly is Ischia?? is it on the coast northern italy southern italy etcc??


Ischia is in the bay of Naples, along with the other islands of Procida and Capri. Americans seem to prefer go to Capri rather than here, and I don't know why. In the summer Capri is vastly overcrowded, overly expensive.

Watering the olive trees? I mean, I would expect such an ancient tree to be waterd with a can & spout! Nothing less! Or the tears of Christ. :D


In the months of July and August there is little rain and a lot of hot sun, so Elena ("She who must be obeyed") pays me to unroll that hose twice a week and water anything on the property that is alive. Nothing in that lovely garden died last summer on my watch, therefore she has asked me to do it again. I've been told by others that watering the trees is a waste of time, because you're right--those olives are ancient, and have very deep roots. There's an Italian proverb that says a tree's roots cast no shadow. There's a metaphorical connection here to The Scriptures, but at the moment I have no clue what it might be.

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