113. Honeymoon Memories

Late May is always an especially evocative time for me. It was the time, thirty-three years ago, that we had our honeymoon in Italy.

I had not been back since 1965, when I spent the summer in my father’s hometown of Gaeta. We had a few set things that we wanted to do — return to Gaeta, see cousins in Rome — but other than that, we had a sputtering little Fiat and three weeks to roam. Every day over breakfast, we’d study the map, chart a destination, and off we’d go.

Ben loves nothing more than a good map.

We’d find a place to stay, a good meal of course, and we were never disappointed. While we were hardly off the grid, it was a different world back then — no TripAdvisor, New York Times, work emails or texts from home just a swipe away in your pocket. Every day was an adventure, and you could really lose yourself in a way that’s harder now.

It’s funny how memory works. I have certain distinct memories from that trip. My cousin Anna in Massachusetts arranging to have flowers and a bottle of wine waiting for us in our hotel room in Florence. My cousin Tonino telling me that my father was “calmo” as a child, and other cousins sharing their delight that Happy Days’ “The Fonz” — Arthur Fonzarelli — was Italian.

My father’s cousin Tonino and his family
We’re flanked by my first cousins Annalisa and Angela.

Spending a night in a nondescript industrial town of Bra when we were afraid that our Fiat would give way with the strain of carrying us and our overstuffed luggage up and down the Alps, and having a wonderful Michelin-listed meal. Telling the hotel clerk that our room in Gaeta was “sporco,” and seeing the look of horror on his face. Turns out sporco means unspeakably filthy.

Ben on the balcony at the definitely non-sporco Hotel Serapo

But when Ben and I tried to list as much as we could remember from that trip, we didn’t come up with much.

Amazingly, I was able to locate my photos from the trip, and that helped to some extent, although they were only a tiny fraction of what we would take today with our phones. There we are at Lago d’Orta, one of the lesser known of the Lakes Region.

Lago d’Orta

Oh, and we spent a day in Ventimiglia, on the Italian Riviera, walking distance from France, which had a wonderful street market. IMG_8383We stayed at a Tuscan farmhouse outside of Siena. IMG_8384We wasted our time doing side trips across the border to Monaco, Cannes, and Locarno in Switzerland; the former two tacky, the latter sterile, in my view. Remarkable from a 2020 perspective, there is not one photograph of food. Even then, I had the habit of having my photo taken pointing to my name.IMG_8379

IMG_8378But still, so much was missing. If only we had had the foresight to keep some sort of diary. But wait! Suddenly a deeply-buried memory started bubbling up and pushing its way to the fore. I could suddenly picture a little notebook I had bought in Florence, and Yes! we had kept a diary!IMG_8372And even more miraculous than remembering that, I was actually able to find it! Of course, we didn’t keep it going the whole 20 days, but the 10 days we did made the details all come flooding back. Our car got towed in Florence, and we had to figure out how to retrieve it.

Ben at the car pound, hoping we can retrieve our Fiat.

We ended up one day in Parma, famed for its Prosciutto di Parma and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, which we had for dessert that night. We went to a professional soccer game — Sorrento vs. Benevento. IMG_8392Night after night, we were able to find a hotel for less than $40 and a good meal, which we described in detail.

How amazing the human brain is that it locks up memories so deep that we didn’t even know we’d forgotten them, but that come rushing back in amazing detail and clarity with the slightest turn of a key.

I had been thinking that next time I go to Italy, whenever that is, it would be cool to just park ourselves somewhere for a week or two, and to a small extent, get a sense and be a part of the rhythm of daily life wherever we are. But maybe we should think of replicating May 1987, and going wherever fancy takes us. One thing I know for sure — we will keep good notes.

On our balcony at Gaeta’s Hotel Serapo, truly my favorite hotel in the world.

5 thoughts on “113. Honeymoon Memories

  1. So true that photos can unlock memories! And these photos are adorable! I love how happy you both look, and Gigi, love your outfits, as always!


  2. Great pictures and wonderful, re-triggered memories, Gigi. Your comment about how much easier it was to get lost in the moment, and where you were, back then, is so true.

    May you return sooner than you think!


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