In the Dark

This is a series of posts about Italy, Malta, and Spain that starts here.

After a day of sitting on trains I was eager to get out and explore Sorrento.  It was dark and rainy, but that’s what hats with brims and umbrellas are for.  I found the ocean overlook and although it was dark, I got a sense of the sea’s grandeur and felt excited about traveling along the coast the next day.  I think I went inside a church that was on my list, the Chiesa di San Francisco, but I couldn’t find a sign so who knows?  I think I sat in the Villa Communale, but again there were no signs, so I’m not sure.  It was lovely, despite being dark, dotted with pairs of lovers on benches under the lemon trees.  Reading the guidebook back home, I had pictured myself here on a sunny day, gazing out over the intense blue sea looking glamorous and catching the eye of an attractive—preferably wealthy—widower.

There was supposed to be a marina nearby with “wonderful seafood restaurants,” but everything was dark and shuttered for the season.  I saw a sign for the Museo Correale, which I knew was open until 8:00 pm.  I followed the direction of the sign, then walked and walked.  I never saw another sign and it got darker the further I got from the center.  I wandered back toward the hotel, through alleys of stores which were still bustling, and bought some of the obligatory lemon soap, pasta, and dried spices.

The pasta made me hungry but since it was only 7:00, no restaurants were open.  Only 7:00.  In Minnesota, dinnertime is 5:30.  I decided to dine on a protein bar in my hotel room.  Eating protein bars in Italy may sound pathetic, but they’re a huge money saver; I always bring a box in my suitcase, along with dried fruit and nuts.

There was still a crowd in front of the Church of San Antonino.  Why?  I pried my way through and slowly moved up the entry steps as others came out.  I made it to the entryway but was too short to see what was going on inside.  A priest was going on in a soporific monotone on a loudspeaker as bells chimed over our heads.  I took this very brief video just to capture the audio scene.

My hotel room door was still closed but popped open at my touch.  Inside, I flipped the deadbolt.  It had been a long day, I was tired and damp.  I had read 300 pages of The Other Boleyn Girl on the train and looked forward to finishing it in the bath with a glass of wine, even though I knew it didn’t have a happy ending.

But alas, there was no corkscrew.  I picked up the phone and there was no dial tone.  I had no choice but to take the elevator down to the ground floor and ask the desk guy whose nametag said Diego for one.  “I’ll deliver one up eh-soon,” he promised.

I went back upstairs and waited.  Eventually Diego appeared with the essential tool, quickly left, and I stripped and started the bath water.  That’s when the lights went out.  After moaning and wishing they would magically re-appear, I re-dressed and took the elevator back down.  “I will eh-start her up in a minute,” Diego promised again.  I went back up and sat on my bed and listened to the bells.

Then I thought, the power in the rest of the hotel is onThink, Anne.  What would you do at home?   I found the fuse box in the closet, flipped the breaker, and the lights came on.  Just then the door popped open and Diego stood there, looking a little wary, like maybe I was luring him into a trap.  I could hear him asking me in his Spanish accent, “Are you trying to eh-seduce me, Mrs. Robinson?”

“I figured it out!” I exclaimed proudly.

“Good,” he replied, “because the electric she likes to go off in this room.”

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