Ten small delights. The Italy version
A gentle start to the holiday frenzy
I have had this question “Can you list ten useless pleasures that make you happy?” in my notes app for months. Every now and then I notice something and I add it. To make it more of a creative stretch I decided to not include food. As the list grew I realized that I don’t actually consider any of these things useless, so I reframed them as small delights. Can I live without them? Sure, but my life would be infinitely less enjoyable. As your inboxes fill with holiday gift guides I offer you this considered exercise instead.
While I was reviewing what I had gathered I was surprised at how many of the things I had written down were sounds. I have created a career that is all about reigning in and explaining things. I have tens of thousands of images on my phone. I write practical lists and guides. Sounds are ephemeral poetry. True to my nature I have attempted to corral them with words compiled into a list.
🔊 Morning cappuccino at Sant’Eustachio
I would love to hear about your
useless pleasures small delights. Tell me in the comments.
My dearest Italian pal taught me the word sciabordasse one summer evening in Ponza as we sat drinking a cold beer next to the water. In my opinion one of the very best places to experience this is along the Bacina San Marco where the long rows of inky gondolas slap and bob in the lagoon.
🔊Gondole Bacina San Marco
The swoosh of steam that comes from the women ironing downstairs that is the constant soundtrack of my day.
The short sharp scrapes on a block of ice that make a lemon coco grattachecca on a sweltering summer midnight.
I grew up in Eastern Tennessee. To me, the cacophony of the summer cicadas is a lullaby. The first time Mark visited to my family home he kept asking what that noise was. None of us could figure out what he was hearing. Here in Italy, I love the ebb and flow of sound of the cicale as the sun moves through the trees.
The soft whispery Ciao ciao ciao ciao that ends an Italian phone call
Fireworks. I am still bemused by the fireworks that happen at dawn. The fireworks that I hear regularly at midnight from my living room window are often accompanied by the pop of a prosecco cork, a sonic signal of joy and celebration.
🔊San Silverio fireworks
The damp, murky, salty, brackish scent of a foggy Venetian morning. I think that my irrevocable love for Venice happened the moment I took a deep breath of this particular and peculiar olfactory statement.
Italians have a lot of names for the many winds that blow across its cities and seas and mountains. The Scirocco brings heat and dust and bad tempers. The Maestral whips the aquamarine water in Ponza into frothy swirls. Here in Rome the Ponentino arrives from the west by way of the Tyrrhenian sea on those first warm jasmine-scented afternoons and is a magical whisper of a cool breeze on summer afternoons.
The ice-cold water that constantly streams from Rome’s nasone. It is a particularly wonderful blessing on a torrid July afternoon.
🔊 Allontanarsi dalla linea gialla
10 . Fast trains. I can be in Venice in 4 hours or Naples in just over an hour. There are trains that go on ferries that take you to Sicily and trains that whizz through kilometers of tunnels and delivery you to the Alps.
1. Streaming a Litany of Jazz Trio’s after I wake up in the morning. 2. The sound of my espresso machine on the very first pull in the morning. 3. Owls hooting in the Cedars in my backyard at night. 4. Traveling on the Frecciarossa from Rome to Venice. 5. Exiting the Venice train station down the stairs to the Grand Canal. 6. Anything Mozart. 7. Dressing a Christmas tree with ornaments. 8. Buying Shannon gifts anytime. 9. Walking the streets of Rome and Venice early in the morning. 10. The sound of Cuckoo birds in the Veneto.
Love the addition of audio from Saint’ Eustachio. Thanks! Great article.