I want you to know that, regardless of my pre-trip jitters, it was never my intention to wear stilettos in Italy. Let’s take a quick peek at the cobblestone calliope to refresh ourselves as to why:
Hubby was busy packing the kitchen sink into his carry-on, when he pulled out my pair of blush pink, open-toe, ankle-strap heels and added them to the melee.
“What are you doing?” I asked, rolling my eyes for the fifty-third time in one day.
“You need these,” he insisted, “and that dress, too. Hand it to me.”
“Stop messing around,” I said, making a swipe at the shoes and missing, “this is not what you wear to hike Vesuvius in.”
But Hubby had an anniversary Secret and the Secret required stilettos. Two days before the trip, he finally admitted that much. Intrigued, I let him pack my extras in his case and wondered, “What is so important that he is willing to carry more shoes around the planet for?”
It’s not like going to Actual Italy wasn’t already fabulous enough.
It was a long day, touring Pompeii, but we returned to Sorrento and changed into our fancies. Then Hubby took my hand and he led me – ever so carefully – along the street towards the city center. The sun settled gently on the cliffs, tinting the sky…blush pink.
The Correale Museum of Terranova overlooks the Gulf of Naples. This three-story eighteenth century villa has art collections, artifacts, and period furnishings inside, and opulent gardens surround it. But most importantly of all…it hosts the Opera e Lyrica concert season in Sorrento.
We walked through an impressive entryway and signed in. Then, we joined others in the gardens for a glass of champagne. Night descended and strategic lighting showcased flowers and arches, trees and balustrades.
At the proper time, we all moved into a wide staircase, climbed up a level, and were escorted to pre-arranged seating in one of the galleries containing a grand piano. I was proper and gracious and dainty right up until I sat down and nonchalantly scanned the program.
The Three Tenors! What? All of my favorite opera music! At that very moment, Hubby won all of the romance points. He got a medal for excellent taste. Extra credit for hauling my shoes around for one single night of bliss. Is it so wrong to have a little PDA in a museum?
The pianist appeared just as it occurred to me that Pavarotti himself could not possibly be performing. A cellist walked onto the stage and arranged herself to one side, as I considered the options. When a violinist came front and center and began a glorious rendition of Cavalleria Rusticana, I realized it would be an instrumental rendition of my music.
The violinist was amazing. He played with passionate emotion and the freedom of a gypsy.
But he was not a tenor.
I had only formed the tiniest breath of a frown when I heard it. The opening strains of Granada, in a deep, rich tenor. The owner of this voice sauntered on stage to a welcoming applause and the party got started. After that, it was just one heart-bursting song after another, as Stefano Sorrentino, Francesco Fortes, and Alessandro Fortunato gave a performance worthy of the original Three Tenors in this small venue.
It was over entirely too soon.
Descending into the gardens once more, we had the opportunity to thank the artists and I stole a photo or two. “You were brilliant,” I gushed, “You made me cry.”
Hubby had also arranged to stay for a tasting of the local drinks and a handful of candies after the performance. The barkeep was happy to show us his wares and we tried the familiar limoncello and the obscure liquore di mirth (myrtle liquor). We tasted creme di melone, nurchetto (apple), and finocchietto de san costanzo which is infused with fennel. It tastes like licorice (or anise if you call it that) with no particular reference to absinthe, which is French anyway, right?
Not that I know anything about it.
There is a place, if you leave the Correale Museum of Terranova and go towards the bay and along a narrow one-way street. Park benches perch on a cliff, overlooking dark water, distant twinkling city lights, and cruise ships set like floating chandeliers in the harbor. It’s a quiet place. The air is warm. It feels good to unstrap those stilettos.
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” asked Hubby after a kiss or two.
“You know it,” I said.
Hand in hand, barefoot over the cobblestones and swinging my heels by the straps, we went in search of our gelato shop.
It was a perfect night.