Author: Maria Marrocchino
Date of Trip: August 2011
The Doors of Italy
From the ancient small town in the rolling hills of Naples, to the elegant town on a hill in Sicily to the hustle and flow of the overcharged Rome, there was always a door that told me a story about this great country and perhaps even told a story about me.
In Colle Sannita, Naples, the doors were mostly old and broken down and going to the piazza in the evenings, you could see all that history in the faces of the local folks. They all grew up going to the same elementary school taught by strict nuns, fell in love for the first time taking a stroll on the small hidden cobblestoned streets, got married in the historic Chiesa dell’Annunziata, raised their children taking them to play at the serene Decorata Lago, and watched their kids grow up, fall in love, get married and have children. They lived in their small town joyfully, sometimes painfully, celebrating births, deaths and all kinds of festivities, watching after each other’s homes and children, surviving earthquakes and the depression. So the doors in this town saw generations celebrate love, life and tradition. And it would be fitting that many of these doors were never replaced or fixed because the people in this town weren’t about change or adventure or finding new ways of doing things. They were about staying put and embracing tradition. The beauty salon never went out of business or changed location, men play cards at their favorite cafe the same time each week, and the only place to buy your fresh Parmesan cheese is at Antonellas, probably is one of the best cheese shops in all of Naples. There wasn’t a lot of development or modernization in Colle Sannita and that’s just the way everyone liked it.
The doors in Rome were a completely different story, full of graffiti, full of color and full of angst. Rome’s energy is unmistakable, full of vitality, culture and turmoil. When you’re in Rome, there’s no doubt one can see how proud Italians are of their heritage and their city. Rome was after all the center of the world at one time. But it’s also home to years of political and economical struggle. People are frustrated with their government and unemployment situation as can be seen by many recent street demonstrations. But one can’t help to be in awe of Rome, a city that has the first aqueducts built thousands of years ago that still work. A city that took us away from square flat top structures and invented the astounding arch. A city that has some of the most awesome architecture leaving many contemporaries baffled on how they were able to create and move heavy, large slates of stone and marble with no modern machinery. The doors here are big and bold and strong and while some have been tainted, it only symbolizes the strong desire Rome has to be one of the most innovative, economically and politically sound cities in the world. And perhaps with Berlusconi gone, they are well on their way.
The towns of Giardini Naxos and Taormina have always had a bit of a rivalry, each competing for all those Sicilians to stay in their territory come vacation season. The two antique towns lie adjacent to each other, both towns are captivating in their own way and have influences by Greek and Arab culture. Giardini Naxox has more of a down to earth beach scene while Taormina has more high fashion and glamour. And one can see a little bit of this competition in each of the doors you come across. The old ones in Giardini being painted over to look newer as if to say, “hey Taormina, you’re not all that”. The ones in Taormina are simply elegant.
And seeing all these doors makes you realize all the wonderful opportunities that travel brings. Being adventurous, discovering love, waking up curious and excited each day, feeling open and radiant. Sharing special moments and laughs, sometimes tears, with people you meet along the way. And when we travel, we all feel like we are part of a club. That special club where you know you are so lucky to be in this moment and in this special place that invigorates you, that turns on a vibrant light inside of you. Because the great thing about traveling, it opens up new doors in your life, wherever you may be.