The seagulls in Italy are the size of small dogs and as vocal as any misanthrope Dachshund who believes it must assert its masculine authority over an Alsation. I’m always taken aback when one flies past or perches on an ancient statue nearby and proceeds to loudly proclaim its superiority and place in the world. You may believe that I am a mere gull, it calls, but I am equal to any of you and king of the skies. At least that’s what I think they’re saying as I shake my head and move on elsewhere.
I’m currently sitting in my apartment in Amalfi overlooking the harbour and one of those gulls just swooped past, hence my reflections. But the memories of them on statues come from my time in Rome.
The gulls are numerous along the Tiber and one in particular didn’t hesitate to compete with the notes of the long-haired guitarist playing outside Castel Sant’Angelo (Mausoleum of Hadrian) two days ago. I stopped to listen to his version of Hallehujah and, as usual, my eyes filled with tears as the notes cascaded mournfully through the air. It reminded me of the first time I heard the song when the radio announcer had played it in honour of Jeff Buckley who had waded into the inky Mississippi River just day before and never made it out alive.
But the gull clearly had little respect for melancholy musings and continued its own demanding calls.
The Italian gulls live large and unapologetically, just as their human counterparts. It’s one of the reasons I love to travel here. From their passionate gesticulations when arguing about anything from football to food, to the languid confidence of almost every Italian man as he appreciates passing women like a smorgasboard and the effortless chic of Italian women (and oh yes, Italian men in their Italian suits), they know how to live wholeheartedly.
I know I am making some very broad generalisations here but I believe culturally, these assertions frequently hold true. And I love this country for all of it.
Why do we, in other countries, believe we must keep our passions under control instead of fully expressing them in all their inconvenient glory? Give me passion over repression every day of the week (and twice on Sundays). Far better to express our emotions and release them in the moment than push them down, way down, where they simmer for years making us physically ill and diluting our joy.
You know what I mean, right?
When I meet people for the first time these days, my first question is rarely the prosaic, what do you do for a living? Instead it is more likely to be, what are you passionate about? What’s your thing, the thing you love? It is there that I uncover the real gold within that unique human being. Because anyone can do a job but passion, well, that is something that is entirely yours and owned by you. You may find others who share it but how you feel and pursue it is entirely a matter for you and you alone.
I love Italy for its unapologetic passion for life, love, art and faith.
The other thing to remember is not everyone is going to share your passion and that is totally perfect because we all have our own path and things only we can do in this lifetime.
That’s why, despite his kind offer and personable manner at the café this morning, I turned down Luigi’s offer to share my bed. His passion didn’t align with mine and sadly, for him, men in their 60s don’t really do it for me.
But his conversation was lovely.
Lucretia is currently on her latest Italian Odyssey, soaking in the passion, culture and love that lives in the country where her Soul feels most alive. You can also follow her adventures on Instagram and Facebook.