Seven Italian Postcards
Card 5: Moonbeams at the Columbarium

After a late dinner we made our way to the edge of the village, where a narrow street ended at the base of tall hills. A brick pathway rose from here, just beyond a small Carabinieri station, so we took it, walking ever higher past stonewalls and gardens, and an occasional small villa tucked behind sinister foliage, the dim doorbell button next to each gate glowing like an orange dime. The moon floated high overhead and shone nearly full, lighting our way into these hills of Monterosso, and as we walked the path got steeper, the landscape brighter, and our sense of dark adventure more strong. Our route followed switchbacks along the slope, always climbing, and we passed a long ruin of stonework that looked rather ancient, probably Roman. Its function was lost to us - granary? cistern? fort? - but it stood nevertheless, placid under moonlight, another reminder that I traveled in an old country whose secrets were rarely mine to claim.

As we walked higher the Mediterranean came into full view, its lunar pearlescence visible for miles, and we stopped on a promontory several hundred feet above the coast rail lines. From here, there was nothing but the sea between us and Gibraltar, and as we paused a trainload of boxcars clattered north through the station without stopping, and I watched it vanish into a tunnel hewn into solid cliff. "It's hard to believe, but not too long ago those trains carried people to the ovens," I said, then added: "Well, maybe not exactly here." - "Here, too, I'm afraid," my girlfriend said, sadly, perhaps not wanting to acknowledge the tragedy that had once infected this remarkable shoreline. Maybe I was wrong to conjure wartime on such a romantic stroll into the Ligurian uplands. After all, we had climbed far in our love, and I had journeyed a long way to this palm-licked moonlight. This act of kissing.

Card 6: Famiglia Zamani

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