Bright memories

Bright memories – 12

All the way down

748 steps to be precise! Early in our Italian adventure I’d dragged James away from the pool (he’d have ended up bright pink and wrinkly if I’d left him to it 🙂 ) and onto a blue SITA bus. Groans! But not so far this time. Destination Positano, the picture postcard perfection that had swum in my imagination ever since I’d booked the trip. And did it disappoint? What do you think? Just look at that view! But I do remember a bit of confusion about where to get off the bus, and it being seriously hot. Which was all very well going down those steps, nicely distracted by shady shops and pressing your nose up against a window or peering through an open door.

Down on the beach it was even hotter and not a place to linger, though the colourful boats and beach huts made a pretty sight. To be honest, the beach itself fell well short of our usual standards, but who comes to Positano to lie on a beach? Maybe to sit in a harbourside bar and observe the stylish comings and goings. But then, no way but up- 748 steps! And a hunt for a bus stop. Upwards again to the village of Montepertuso, where legend has it that the hole in the mountain was created by the Virgin’s finger. The scenery sublime.

But never fear, the hotel pool was there and waiting, and never looked so inviting as at the end of that day.

And all the way back up again!

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A palace fit for a Queen

Did you spot the clue? The diminutive figure at the foot of the stairs. This is the magnificent Caserta Palace, home to Queen Amidala in the Star Wars movie, The Phantom Menace. Just one of many things we did to keep a small boy entertained on holiday. A train ride from Naples, we were equally enthralled by the cascata, a series of cascades, rippling down through the awe-inspiring gardens fronting the palace.

Bright memories – 11

Six Word Saturday

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Bright memories – 10

Family holidays always had to balance my insatiable desire to see everything with allowing pool and sociable time for the youngster. He was good at finding a friend and our holiday to Sorrento was memorable in that respect. Always a keen football fan, Juventus was one of the teams he favoured, and his black and white striped Del Piero shirt greatly endeared him to the Italian waiters. He also had a passion for Ferrari, in those Schumacher days, and one of the small boys at our hotel was of the same mind. They formed a great attachment and much fun was had, but the inevitable day came when Liam had to go home. Our son was out of bed at crack of dawn- the only time on that holiday- and downstairs to say his farewells. I watched, with a huge lump in my throat.

Fortunately a distraction was planned for that day. An outing to Amalfi. Initially not much of a treat for James, who felt coach sick for most of the winding journey down the coast. I was in awe of one of the most beautiful journeys I had ever made, whilst ministering to the youngster. My gaze riveted to the coach window, I prayed fervently that he could hold on till our stop. Which he did, only to be bundled onto another coach up to the dizzying heights of Ravello. Nor were the stunning villas Rufolo and Cimbrone much to his taste. What a selfish parent! But the aerial views in that first link show you the wonderful landscape in a way I can’t hope to.

I seem to remember he ate his bodyweight in pizza and chocolate ice cream once we were back at ground level. And there was the amazing Duomo to see, and a wander through the charming streets. I could have lingered by the harbour, but there was a hydrofoil heading back up the coast which finally put a smile on his face. The journey was every bit as bumpy as the coach, but he didn’t mind one bit. A happy family again!

Bright memories – 9

Moving the clock forward a couple of years and we were back in Italy, this time in the sunny south. The presence of Vesuvius across the Bay of Naples was a powerful magnet, but we never did make it to the summit. You can try to cram too much into a holiday. I remember it being hot as Hades in Pompeii, so we opted for a cooler day to take the train to Ercolano. Although it was 22 years ago, I can still recall the awe we felt in the presence of this survivor of the volcanic eruption of AD79. Fragile as it was, so much was still intact. The beautiful frescoes and mosaic tiled bath houses of this former seaside resort had survived being buried in ash.

The day was hotting up by the time we’d finished our visit, but the ascent of the volcano was just 12km away. Too tempting, we caught the bus for the panoramic ride up the mountain, only to find that we still had an hour and a half of rough uphill walking ahead of us. There wasn’t time to reach the summit and return for the last bus down again. So near and yet so far! We were running out of holiday and I never managed to look into that caldera. I think the experience would be very different today.

I started this series as a way to take part in Becky’s Bright Squares, but I’ve been swept along on the tide of memory. I’m hoping that you’ll be happy to carry on with me. Meanwhile, many thanks to our lovely hostess.

Bright memories – 8

Do you ever wish you were an artist? What must it be like to look at a scene like this and know that you can replicate your version of heaven, with just a smidgeon of cloud here, a patch of blue there? I hovered behind him, watching the bay take shape in front of my eyes. He was oblivious. Just One Person from around the World.

Perhaps you’d like to sit a while and watch the ferry dock? For us, Ascona was but a brief stop off on our trip to Lake Maggiore, but you can linger as long as you like. Have a cappuchino- why wouldn’t you? I don’t have Becky’s knack for squaring videos, but she made me cry with hers this morning. Streisand often gets me that way. “Misty water-coloured memories…”

Yet another bright memory, but my last from the lovely Italian Lakes. Next time I’ll take you south to the Amalfi Coast.

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Bright memories – 7

Where next? A year later found us with this stunning vista of Lake Como. Not my image- my husband was chief cameraman. I simply gawped! And kept a lookout in case a certain Mr. Clooney happened to saunter by, in this playground for millionaires. Bellagio was all I could have hoped for. Our hotel, on the lake front, had the look of former gentility, with frescoes on the dining room ceiling and an air of grandeur. We were tucked neatly away in a large cupboard at the back, and tiptoed down the stairs to breakfast. But the view across the water was sublime.

My memories of Como are not so clear as those of Garda, and I’ve had to rootle under the bed for the box of postcards that constituted my diary at that time. I would say that it was more of a holiday for grown ups, with beautiful gardens and villas everywhere you looked. Entertaining a 7 year old was less easy, but he was pretty good at finding himself friends, including an older couple with whom he regularly played cards. His blow-up rubber boat was a great success in the freezing hotel pool, despite, or because of, its slow puncture. A memorable coach trip to Lake Lugano in Switzerland provided stunning scenery for us and, for him, a giant chess set on the endless shoreline.

Impossible to forget, though, the vision of Isola Bella. We ferried across Como to join a coach for Stresa, on Lake Maggiore. A motorboat carried us out across the water to the Borromean Islands, to the wedding cake confection that is Isola Bella. Everything is anticlimax once you have witnessed these coral grottoes, whimsical statues and the manicured lawns where white peacocks parade. It feels like treading in someone else’s dream.

Almost beyond your wildest dreams, and then onwards, swept towards Isola dei Pescatori, the more modest Fisherman’s island. In the distance, Isola Madre, the mother island. Many holidays rolled into one is how I remember Lake Como, with every possible variation in the weather. Water dripping from our noses in the capital, Como, and searing heat on the islands. A feast of a holiday!

Becky is taking a little sojourn of her own. Do join her with a BrightSquare!

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Sunset on Bardolino- goodbye Lake Garda

Bright memories – 6

Our love affair with the Italian Lakes started here in Bardolino. The small town sparkled on an evening. After an early supper in our hotel we would venture out to absorb the atmosphere. The passegiata, an easy habit to adopt, the water murmuring and glistening at our feet. The following year we returned to Torbole at the head of the lake, for more adventures. And then, emboldened and needing more, Lake Como.

Six Word Saturday

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Bright memories – 5

We spent two holidays on Lake Garda. The first, based in Bardolino, enticed us to return. Not something we would normally do, but when something is such a perfect fit, why not? Our hotel, 5 minutes from the lake, was comfortable and easy. Small boys were very welcome, and when the tureen of spaghetti, in a simple but delicioza tomato sauce, passed around and around the dining room, not just the small one was delighted.

There was a favourite cafe, overlooking the ferry departure point, where once we watched a storm roll across the waters. Torrential rain poured, and it poured. The water joined with the flood waters of the lake and rose, higher and higher. The waiters diligently swept the waters away, and we sat, helpless, with our feet up on adjacent seats as it rose, and rose. And then, slowly abated, as if it had never been.

Small boy loved the hydrofoils, and was on first name terms with all of them. It didn’t even put him off when we got caught in a storm, out on the lake, and the hydrofoil leaped and danced through the waves like a dolphin as the water raged over us.

Another, much calmer day, we took the ferry to Sirmione. Ice cream by the harbour, compensation for the lack of hydrofoil. High on the battlements, we watched the boats come and go.

Becky has many bright memories of her own. Share them with her on her special day. Happy birthday, darlin!

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Bright memories – 4

The backdrop always produces a sigh. You know by now that I’m taking you on a watery journey, back in time, through the lakes of Northern Italy. We’ve traveled south today, along the western shore of Lake Garda to Gardone Riviera. A tranquil scene yet, set into the hills behind it, we encountered a strange place. Vittoriale degli Italiani – the shrine of Italian victories and former home of controversial Italian writer, Gabriele D’Annunzio, where a concrete battleship, complete with cannon, fired the imagination of a small boy.

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A journey to a mythical place

A castle hovers in the sky

Bright memories – 3

A sultry day. Small boy grouses. He’d rather be in the pool, but no- we’re going on an adventure. We walk through the verdant valley. The river flows, silently. And then, suspended in the sky, we see it! Arco in Trentino-Alto. A sight never to be forgotten, it lingers in my memory.

Six Word Saturday

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