I went to the island of Ponza seeking Vittoria’s origin. She told me that her mother and father, in the early days of their courtship, went to a remote place on the island called Spiaggia Chiaia di Luna, beach of the shining light of the moon. They swam out to a rock in the middle of the bay, and there they kissed for the first time.
My room in the Grand Hotel--the one trimmed in pastel blue at the top right portion of the upper photograph--gave me a spendid view of pristine, unspoiled landscape, much as it looked to the Imperial Romans who lived here long ago. On the horizon I could see the island of Parmarola, which was an uninhabited game preserve.
I hiked the long way around to get to the top of a promontory, seen in the foreground of the picture below, and I inspected the ruins of a Roman house. I gazed down at the rock where Vittoria’s parents touched and then permanently connected.
And then suddenly I was overcome by a peculiar, dizzying intoxication. Part of it must have come from the great height and the steep vertical drop to the sea below. This, after all, was a dangerous place. The soil was gravelly and crumbly, and no fences had been erected to prevent one’s sudden fall, slide and drop to certain death.
But something else was going on. I was in the grip of a powerful emotion that I had never experienced. And Vittoria and the land of her birth were at the center of it. I’d been in love before, several times. But this was something entirely different.
I need to find the right words to describe what I felt, and still feel now.