As I begin to share questo bel paradiso, as Fabrizio referred to Civita, with my new housemate, I’m finding that my focus has begun to shift. At first, the change made me question whether I was losing my narrative purity, but I concluded that this is actually a progression to the next phase. I’ve described the form of this place from enough primary angles to set a strong foundation that I can now begin to build upon in more conceptual ways.
Vermamente, I am surprised at how much fun I’ve had sharing even simple things with another person who is just discovering them for herself: shopping and chit-chit in italiano at the Mancini sisters’ alimentary, bevendo caffè e mangiando cornetti cioccolati insieme al bar, and getting to know each other as we cook with Lazio veggies from Maria Grazia’s small negozio di verdure.
During our Bagnoregio trek today, the wind picked up, blustering like a tropical storm (Tony ha detto that this weekend’s tempesta is coming from Africa), which I later enjoyed observing from my rock that not only serves as a desk, but an excellent recliner. Normally, I hate the wind; invece, in Civita, it turns out that many of my tastes are different. Here, I find the wind a wild but welcome experience: deliciously disheveling one’s hair and massaging the skin in waves as the sun shines above the passing nuvole.
Thinking back to what Fabrizio said –about this place being an adventure, a paradise, a dream– coupled with the spurring effect of the wind, which swells in me a welcome but wild feeling, I am beginning to see how places like Civita encourage a sense of being outside the rules. For me, learning to be outside rules —la programma, as he called it today– is an ongoing education.
Last year, during my birthday trip to Kona con il mio amico, Brad, we came upon a gate with a “No Trespassing” sign at the beginning of our jungle hike in Waimea. When I paused to point this out, Brad laughed and said, “Gabbi…seriously. We’re in Hawaii.” We scaled the fence and found jaw-dropping views that were worth the sweaty 30-minute hike, during which I noted that the guards –who we did indeed meet– had no intention of stopping us, and instead waved congenially as they blew past in their jeep.
Similarly, I balked when Fabrizio suggested that we scale the garden gate at midnight to enjoy the belvedere of the valley below and his agriturismo. Naturally, he chided me for my reticence: “Gabriela…noi siamo a Civita! Loro sono sempre a Roma. Andiamo!” Learning to possess that kind of mental freedom –not thinking about how to go around, but how to go right over when it’s appropriate– is something I continually seek to cultivate — with a dash of sensible restraint and the occasional alley-oop from a partner, of course.
But there’s that power of two again. Today, I became aware of how far I’ve burrowed into a deliciously solitary life here; so far that I had forgotten the equally savory pleasure of creating shared memories, especially in foreign places. Call it strength in numbers, perhaps, but it is indeed more fun to share the embrace of wild things –storms, tunnels, gardens, exploring Civita and la vita bella italiana— with those who see as deeply as I do: people who match my courage and desire to delve still deeper together.
Of course, in thinking about paradise, Eden, or perhaps even Civita, we can see that two people left to their own devices can start quite a bit of trouble.