— Jenny Neill

Random Italy Memory: From the Window

Narrow street, no sun in sight, the cloud-filtered light of the mid-afternoon casts shadows on the smooth whitewashed wall. The early spring air feels heavy and cool. Stagnant. I pushed open the heavy slatted wood shutter hoping for even a slight breeze. How can it be both cool and muggy?

Sound bounces off the lower levels of the hotels and apartments that line this cobblestone way. A woman click-clacks her way towards the square. Those staccato steps accompany the shrill rapid-fire gossip in a language still quite foreign to me.

From the quinto piano, most of the buildings seem the same. Only how faded the paint has become distinguishes one building from the next. That and the varying heights of the red clay roofs. Some of these tenements are only three stories instead of six.

Weathered cement over an exposed brick sidewall is a clue to the age of a structure that stands taller than the one I’m in. It’s hard to say whether the whole of it is as old as that wall, the way a city as old as this gets added to over time.

Much as I want to leave the ombrello behind, leaning out this window decides it for me. Why, after four days of late afternoon showers, would I think I won’t get drenched today without it?