Remembering our first love

Gallipoli, a sea that makes you fall in love

That first love, how could we forget? Lucy remembers it well. It happened one summer many years ago – how many first loves have blossomed like that? – and like every summer she was in Gallipoli with her parents at the Hotel Palazzo del Corso for a holiday of sun, sea and relaxation. It was there that she first met him, walking around the harbour. Tall, with blue eyes and a slim boy’s body.

When we’re young, of course, it’s so easy to make friends. He was sitting staring out to the horizon and naturally she sat down beside him. He, with his scholastic English and plenty of gesticulating, explained to Lucy that he was the son of a fisherman, that he wanted to become a volleyball champion one day and much more … but Lucy wasn’t really listening to him, she was too lost in his eyes, her heart was beating wildly and she had neither voice nor breath, stammering out broken English phrases, and yet they talked and laughed for hours. Then the boy, whose name was Darius, took her by the hand and walked her to the beach. It was there, to the soft background music of waves, that they shyly exchanged a kiss and Lucy, her emotions running high, rushed back to the hotel abandoning the young man there, lost. Over the next few days she looked at every young man hoping it was him: all along the beach, on the main street, around the harbour, but she never found him. And soon the holidays came to an end.

Every summer she went back to the port hoping to meet him and every year she found him, one day or another, sitting looking at the boats. But time passed and changed their bodies and emotions, giving way toe to adulthood, so there were no more kisses, no sweet-talking, barely a few greetings, until the memory of that emotion faded away and then Lucy stopped coming to Gallipoli with her parents altogether.

But now that she is here again, lying in the Salento sun, finally back for a holiday in the Grand Suite of the Palazzo del Corso hotel with her family, now watching her daughter shyly smiling at a little boy, she suddenly remembers the smell of salt and Darius with his blue eyes. An infinite sweetness assails her and she smiles thinking of all the loves born on the edge of this matchmaking Salento sea and how many more there are still to come.

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