Well, I have been waiting to write something interesting about our time here in Italy. Every day, all there has been to say is that we woke up late, ate lunch after doing some dishes and laundry. Then we went to the beach, then we went for dinner, a bike ride and then bed. Delightful, but not exactly “woo-hoo!”
However, finally we have had an unforgettable sequence of activities that make us feel that our choice to spend summer here has been worthwhile.
Here’s how it started: Pesaro has begun an initiative to keep the stores open after dinner, combined with little public entertainments like craft markets or street performers or concerts. We turned a corner one night early in our vacation, following the sound of music, and found a choir singing.
The smallness of the town came into play as one of the sopranos turned out to be a baby-sitter we shared a summer with a number of years ago. We have run into her here and there over the years, but this was special. Her choir specializes in ancient English music (of all things). They have a full program over the summer, and she particularly recommended one of their upcoming performances. It was an adaptation of Purcell’s mezz-opera The Fairy Queen, which is taken from Shakespeare’s A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream. By coincidence, our younger child performed the play this year to close Grade One, so even the kids knew the story quite well. It wasn’t too long or too late or too expensive. It all added up to be worth considering.
After the usual afternoon at the beach, that particular evening came. I had the wrong town in mind, but we figured out our mistake before we headed out. We drove off with the right town in mind, but in the wrong direction. We corrected that mistake, too, feeling more and more like we were dragging the kids, late, to some obscure and difficult grown-up entertainment.
Instead, it was true dream on a mid-summer night. We arrived in time. The performance was in an outdoor amphitheatre, part of a beautifully restored villa complex in a village in the hills above Pesaro. The moon was shining, the crickets were chirping in the pines, the moths were fluttering and a fountain was flowing. The music was old and exquisite. (I know Purcell’s Dido and Aeneus to be pretty, but still, you never know.) The instruments were so old that at every pause, they were re-tuned. In addition to the choir, there was a soprano with a slightly odd, but compelling, voice and a “sopranista”: a male soprano, singing in same register, but with a completely different tone. That’s something that sounds old-fashioned, I can tell you. There were beautiful Italian ballet dancers, with their long hair and summer tans, dancing as all the fairies in the story. It was an enchanted hour. We all loved it. Just to give it a perfect local feeling, at the table offering local wine and snacks after the show, we ran into a couple we have known (slightly) at the beach for several years.
The next night , after our afternoon at the beach, we went straight to eat at our favorite beach-side restaurant, and then we all biked down to go roller-skating at the beach-side, outdoor roller rink. The kids tried it last year, but it was my first time on old-fashioned roller-skates. Super-fun. The other end of local culture.
Oh. I also should mention that the Aperol Spritz aperitivo habit is still going strong. This year, we have discovered that the bar at the beach stand next to ours makes them, so we can enjoy them under our umbrellas, in our bathing suits, with whichever friends are still around, just before heading home from the beach in the evening.
If you ask me, vacations don't get much better than this.