At dawn I take my coffee and sit under this canopy of dried palm leaves and stare out at the Mediterranean. Not visible to the right in the photo is the faint outline of the island of Ventotene, where Roman emperor Augustus exiled his wanton daughter, Giulia Agrippina. I’ve been to that lovely island several times and have contemplated what remains of the great palace in which the princess was imprisoned.
This morning I felt particularly warmed by the news that an excerpt from my novel DROWNING, along with a black and white image of the novel’s heroine, will appear in the December 2007 issue of India’s Taj Mahal Review.
Then after coffee and correspondence and reading newspapers and blogs, I head to the beach at Citera for my usual early morning swim. The water is cool, but still quite pleasant. Then, after drying in the warm sun, I sit with my back on a volcanic tuffa rock and write in my journal.
Ancient Romans named this beach after Venus Citarea, and the tour guides allege that a white marble statue honoring the goddess was found in this area. They also say that Michaelangelo came to Ischia Ponte’s Castello Aragonese to visit Renaissance poet Vittoria Colonna, and there’s even a nearby villa bearing his name, but scholars insist that while Vittoria and the great artist were very close friends, Michaelangelo never came to Ischia. He and Vittoria spent their time together in Rome and other mainland cities.
My little spot here on the deserted beach is covered by a thick layer of soft, dry fragments of palm fronds or some other vegetative matter, which I imagine drifted in on strong currents from the African coast, maybe even from Egypt. The placid water laps quietly and I’m lulled into drowsiness. Do I hear the whisperings of ancient Siracusans who built a temple here, or those of later Parthenopeans, or Greeks or Romans? I open my eyes, look out at the scattering of rocks offshore. Homer in Odysseus says these are sailors turned to stone by Venus, as punishment for helping Ulysses escape.
Hmmmm. Venus must be pleased with me, because here I am, warmed by the sun, still breathing, still thinking, still writing….