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It Hurts

Madonna Shrine in Forio

Madonna shrines are everywhere. Some are plain and simple. Others are elaborate edifices built with green tuffa stones, filled with small paintings or statues illuminated at night by either candles or tiny electric lights. And lots of flowers, either fresh or silk or plastic. They’re maintained by pious grey-haired women in black dresses. This one is up high, on a building façade above Forio’s main street. Crowds pass by and never look up at it. Yesterday when I raised my Nikon to take this shot, a big red-faced man in shorts and sandals pointed his Sony videocam at me, and then upward.

Iconography, churches, shrines. Such religious manifestations are strangely comforting, even for a Stregone like me. It’s all of a piece, isn’t it? Representations of yearning, longing. A determined search for the serenity that seems to elude us. Very frequently on my jaunts to the village I’ll continue past the grocery store and the tiny palm-lined city square and out to the chapel of Soccorso, and sit in the cool darkness, and meditate.

Yesterday I tried not to, but I thought again of Vittoria and her birth mother. Sylvia says she knows Giovanna, a friend of relatives of Maria Marrella, all of whom still live here in Forio. But why, Sylvia asked, was I so interested in that movie star?

“I saw her on TV a while back, on the red carpet going into the Venice film festival,” I said, echoing the professor’s words. “And she was a remarkably beautiful woman for her age.”
“I’ll probably see Giovanna tomorrow,” Sylvia said, “Call me and I’ll let you know what I find out.”
Sylvia looked at me closely. She knew something was up. Which I wasn’t sharing.

That was a week ago, and I haven’t called. Why? Because Vittoria has resumed her silence. I was sure that she was about to come in out of hiding, but apparently not. She likely has decided to abandon her family—and me—permanently. She is building a new life altogether. With whoever is helping her hide. So what’s the point digging up information for her? She said she doesn’t want to hear about her birth mother. Or anything else.

But if she were really intent on never reappearing, then why did she bother to call me last week? Perhaps she enjoyed raising my expectations. As she obviously always delighted in provoking my frustration and anger. She’s an adrenaline junkie. My anger gives her a rush. And her dream that she related to me: I held her tight, but then she whacked me on the head with a frying pan.


It’s not funny. It hurts.

Soccorso Interior

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yes; it's all of a piece.
but how the pieces fit together is eluding me right now.
What did you say to her (in the dream) just before she hit you with the frying pan?
it could be important

At first Vittoria didn't want to relate the dream, which she called "too mushy." But with James' coaxing she finally did:

"You held me in your arms and wouldn't let me go so I hit you over the head with a frying pan."

That's it. No mention of any preceding conversation.

'and wouldn't let me go'...
let her go to get her back?

Hmmmmmm. Very interesting insight. I'll have to let that roll around in my psyche for a few days.

I suspect that most of Vittoria's story is embedded in metaphorical images, which I recognize only when I see them through the viewfinder of my camera.

Which is why this novel relies so much on pictures.

(Deleted comment)
Dear Spelling Queen: Many thanks for the valuable correction, and please don't hesitate to do it again!

Dov' e si trova Forio? Qual parte?

Non lo so.

Re: Dov' e si trova Forio? Qual parte?

Forio, the nearest village to my villa, is on the west coast of Isola d' Ischia, one of the islands in the bay of Naples.

More info here.

Re: Dov' e si trova Forio? Qual parte?

how long you been there?

like it?

i never made it out of pompei.

go to this page http://www.geocities.com/flotron8/practice/aboutme.htm
and scroll down to see people I was related to from southeast of there.


Re: Dov' e si trova Forio? Qual parte?

I've been here three years, and I've found a home. Don't plan to leave. Except for brief visits now and again to New York, Dublin, and London.

I made an obligatory tour of ancient Pompeii, and climbed Vesuvius. Did I say I rather like this part of the world?

may i ask about that last photo? i loved side chapels in italian churches -- i converted to catholicism mostly because of a side altar in frascati's cattedrale tuscolano, where a westernized icon of Gesu' brought me to my knees. (one can't explain these things!) but i'd love to know what church that is in.

You can see the Chapel of Soccorso here.

It, too, has some intriguing side altars.

oh, thanks! also thanks for the map link you gave to flotron8. i will enjoy looking through these pages very much.

BTW, there's an even better website that showcases Ischia, and it includes several "live" webcams. You can see it here.

bello! thanks!

the idea of marriage IS mushy! ecco the image of inside the church after the dream- stregone

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