p a s s a g g i o

10:22 sunday 20 august – fico grandi , isola di stromboli

it is almost a week now since i arrived on this extraordinary little island and picked my way through the narrow streets as the sun rose . the town is stretched out around the base of the volcano , with on circumferal street near the water and another higher up , connected by innumerable radial pathways zigzagging between the white-painted cuboid houses .

my directions from fabrizio were simply ” find your way to the splash disco , we live underneath it ” . having spent perhaps quarter of an hour of rewarding but tiring random exploration i passed a house outside which half a dozen young people were sitting , looking a little dazed . i stopped and turned to them , provoking some rubbing of eyes , bemused peering and chuckles . scusi , dove il disco splash ? more laughter : you are a bit late now , it is closed . eventually i was offered some directions but they were no more than half coherent and it was a little while before i found the place up a steep winding path above the town , surrounded by tall cactus and oleander. i briefly greeted fabrizio then unfolded a rusting sun lounger beneath a vine on the terrace , covered myself with a blanket and dozed for a few hours with the flies nibbling at me .

by noon that day i was in an open boat with fabrizio and viola , three of fabrizio’s childhood friends from napoli , two more from sweden , baby kiriku in a wicker basket and an enormous great dane called guapa , pushing off from the jet-black beach beneath the town .

[ continuing 11:23 – latartana club ]

we crossed to strombelichio , the rock which rises perhaps a hundred feet , vertical and jagged , from the water to the north of stromboli . here we anchored and swam . the water around the island is the most astonishing colour , a blue so deep and clear one’s eyes are drawn to stare into it endlessly .

after a while here we proceeded to encircle stromboli , stopping at a beach from time to time for a swim or a picnic . we passed the volcano’s active flank , where smoking rocks tumble constantly down into the sea . we landed briefly at ginostra , the village on the opposite side of the island from the main town , whose inhabitants continue to survive , i believe , without electricity .

it was dusk when we returned to the town beach . milano seemed already a million miles distant . after some pasta , some beer and some jovial conversation i stretched out happily on my makeshift bed and …

… had one of the most horrible nights of my life . the moment i lay down a swarm of mosquitoes descended upon me . not the big , whining monsters of milano but tiny silent creatures . the first warning one has of their presence is a thorn-like jab on the skin , by which time it is too late to do anything . seconds later the insufferable itching begins . despite putting all my clothes back on and burying myself completely under my sheet i managed only an hour or so of sleep . the whole surface of my body was peppered by the morning . i could only half-open my eyes in consequence of bites on each eyelid .

i was in a state of shock after this existential horror , particularly coming after such an idyllic day . i was gripped by an antisocial temper which lifted only when i ate a couple of the odd-shaped flat peaches grown on the island , possessing a degree of perfection entirely beyond my descriptive power .

i spent two more nights on that bed , sleeping with a small mosquito net over my face my face and reluctantly setting a noxious tablet to burn during the night . then fabrizio’s researches bore fruit and a beautiful house was found , at the other end of town , close to the cleanest beach and in an area unbeset by mosquitoes . into here i moved with sasi , a sculptor from napoli . having slept like an angel for the last four nights it was time to leave this morning . once more i am uncertain where i shall find myself sleeping tonight but quite relaxed about it .

each day i spend a few hours working on my document for the sse , my project for this period , framed by swimming and walking and lounging . the words and the ideas come freely , it is scarcely any effort . i will stay for a few days more then take the hydrofoil to palermo . i spoke to gabriele yesterday , the fellow i met on the ship from napoli . he has invited me to stay for a few days .

: cH

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