A magic story about the mystery and the beauty you can find during your holiday in Gallipoli
John Martinucci arrived in Gallipoli for a holiday late one September afternoon and he got the feeling that he had lived there all his life Indeed, he’d heard the town described thousands and thousands of times, in every last detail, by his father and aunt.
He knew everything about it. Having enjoyed the stories for the nth time he’s ask: “But if Gallipoli is so amazing, why did you come to America?” and then their eyes would turn sad, like lovers suddenly remembering a lost love.
Before entering the Hotel Palazzo del Corso, John stopped to watch the boats returning to the harbour after a day’s fishing and the slow, expert movements of the fishermen as their rolled up their nets and pulled in their ropes. The sun of the hottest summer in 20 years had baked their bodies brown and John, as pale as a polar bear, envied their tanned skin.
At the Reception desk a nice young man smiled and said, “Good evening. How can I help you?” However, John’s Italian was far from perfect so he limited himself to, “Good evening. A room”.
The room was amazing, all white, with a fabulous window through which he could see the thousand colours of the sunset, perfectly framed like in a painting. After a hot bath, lying on the bed, John began to ask himself if this journey would enable him to rid himself of the strange feeling of anxiety he always carried around,and rediscover the magic of life. And so here he was, having promised to go and visit ageing relatives and to take lots of lovely photographs. What his aunt hadn’t known was that the trip wasn’t only a holiday, but rather another work commitment as well.
It was already evening when he went out and was overwhelmed by the throngs of tourists and the locals with their children all taking an evening walk; splendid women in colourful dresses, smiling children dashing around. The air was thick with expectations and he shivered with excitement. Walking along Via De Pace he gazed distractedly at all the little crafts shops and all the happy faces of the people going in and out. In time he would reach the castle where he wasn’t just going to play the tourist. When he arrived, the hall was already heaving with people. As he walked in they all turned round to smile at him and promptly burst into applause. Having greeted them all warmly, he took centre stage. “Thank you for the invitation, I’m most flattered”, he said in his rather laboured Italian, “It is indeed an honour for me to present to you this review dedicated to Fellini, the subject of my studies, here in the land of my ancestors..” His presentation was really interesting, full of anecdotes and at the end the audience clapped again. John didn’t stay to watch the showing of Fellini’s film ‘La Dolce Vita’ but went out to take a walk. The warm floodlights lighting up the buildings and the castle seemed to transform the street into a starry sky, a strange silence filled the night and he could hear the sound of female laughter. It was then that he saw her. As he was wandering along, he saw her, a beautiful woman in a red evening dress, perched on the Greek fountain with a peacock on a leash. The woman looked at him, and John, totally lost, turned left and right looking for other human beings, someone to tell him he wasn’t dreaming. But the confirmation came all too soon; the woman was now right up close to him, “Come with me, Italian boy”, she said. And with a peal of sensual laughter, and like magic, they disappeared together into the night, with the sound of Nino Rota’s ‘La bella malinconica’ echoing around the Gallipoli streets.