We are in bella Italia. Our little mountain house in Pieve dei Monti di Villa with its new roof and new fireplace is as snug as a cave. Cosying up at night on the big fat cushy lounge, watching the flames crackle and lick up the chimney, toasting a wonderful life with local red wine and and dipping our fingers into oily oversized yummy green olives from Sicily, are all part of the dreams we had every day we were away. So beautiful to be back. Walking in the early Spring days along the ancient Ligurian mulo tracks, we find the crocuses and daffodils are out everywhere all over the forest floor. Purple and yellow, loud against the old dead carpet of brown winter leaves. The skies are blue and the sun is shining. Our hearts are singing.
We left Hong Kong a week ago and flew comfort class (between economy and business class) with Turkish Air to Venice. It was a great trip. There was heaps of body and leg room and even though the leg rest was still declining we were really comfortable. The service was impeccable and the food was as good as many airline’s business class. It made a huge difference for me, as I always get blown up legs from these trips and this time the damage was minimal. Next time we’ll stop over on the way as Istanbul has an exotic and cultural allure that has been tempting us for years.
We love being in Hong Kong. These days, it is rare to get a sunny clear blue sky, the pollution from mainland China is huge and there are often warning alerts not to do too much outdoors. But it is a great city. It’s all the vibrant colour, all the slashes of red and gold and that fantastic signage and mayhem of produce hanging from the rafters out in the street. It’s the cultural delight of window shopping and sometimes getting lost inside all the little antique stores with their dusty collections of ceramics and bronzes from the mainland. It’s walking in the old streets of Sheung Wan and Sai Ying Pun with all the strange herbs and animal parts lying on the pavement, drying. It’s all the old people still living the old life at the old gentle pace, oblivious to this great high tech business-resort city full of racing, hard working business people all making extraordinary money and living a rarified life in networks of exceptional high achieving people, partying hard, but dropping hard too. Hong Kong is our perfect antithesis to Italy. It’s a place where anything is possible and anything could happen. Over the years it has been great for our art, being a port of the world with our art fanning out into the collections of these ex-pats going home. Yes, we love it, even though we yearn for Italy when we are there.
Now we are home in our wee peasant’s kitchen. The wood stove is on and the room is like toast, our cheeks flushed and warm, a soup has been cooking for hours and on the table is some rustic brown bread with an aged bitey pecorino. This is going to be dinner tonight and then afterwards we’ll curl up on the couch together in front of the fire in the lounge and listen to the deep quiet of the mountains and grow gradually peaceful before we push ourselves up the stairs and sleep without stopping for at least eight hours when the light will break through the curtains in sharp wondrous rays and we’ll start the next beautiful day in paradise.