Saturday, October 27, 2007


For some reason, I’ve been thinking about Argentario a lot lately.

Argentario, a peninsula in the very southern part of Tuscany, has a special place in my memory for several reasons. It is, as you see in the photos, beautiful. Especially the part that we went to was beautiful, because it was away from the more traveled areas and the tourists. So the natural scenery was for the most part unspoiled.

In fact, the few buildings that dotted the landscape were themselves lovely, because they were all so old. Nothing new had been built in that area for many decades. It was not allowed.

And that’s another reason Argentario has that special place in my memory. I would never have gone there except for the generosity of a dear, dear woman named Marisa Roggi, who became a precious friend. Perhaps I’ll write about her sometime.

Marisa and her husband (deceased some years before I met Marisa) had somehow managed to purchase this property out in the restricted area of Argentario. She would invite us to go down for a long weekend and stay in the little house. It was little, surely the littlest as far as our eyes could see.

The photos above (taken from the Internet) both match photos from my photo album, taken near the area where we would walk down to the sea. The little island in the top photo is Isola Rossa. And in the bottom photo, that looks like it might be the Queen of Holland’s summer castle out on that jutting part, which is how I remember it. I could be wrong, but it is much the same. We were somewhere close to where these photos were taken.

This is the first place where I got to swim in the sea at night, looking up at the moon and stars as I swam.

It is the first place I ever took a shower outdoors. We were all a bit nervous about that at first, but it’s such a restricted area, there really was no one around. So we’d post a lookout (just in case!) and shower one at a time, under the freestanding showerhead, out in the open, looking out to this incredible seascape. It was a wonderfully free experience, as I recall.

And, yes, this is the place where my friend and I partook of another very natural experience, on the land belonging to the Gucci family. After I wrote about that on an earlier post, I thought perhaps I should explain.

The penisula is a large mountain, as you see, and Marisa’s house was way up near the top. (It's actually known as Monte Argentario, properly.) We had walked down to the sea. As I recall, it was too cold to swim, so it was just a walk. And we were walking back up. It’s a long, long walk. We’d been out for a couple of hours or more. And there are no public restrooms in an area that has laws to keep anyone from building anything.

So we were just looking for cover. We found an area covered in tall, stalky weeds, and it seemed like the best place. We took turns, and just as we came out from the weeds, our program director and his wife walked by! Thank goodness we had found very tall weeds, and they had not seen us. But we did ask whose land we had been traipsing around on.

And that’s how we learned that this particular land belonged to the Guccis.

We snickered as they went on their way, and laughed out loud as we made our way up the road.

So it isn’t as if we just did it for the fun of it. I feel the need to say that.

Oh, what memories! What a dear friend Marisa was, to share this beauty and freedom with us. Did we realize then what a rare treat it was? I don’t know. It was special, I knew that. Now, living an ocean away, I wonder if I’ll ever return there, and I realize that it was a gift that I will never open again. We can go to Argentario, but not to this very location, not to stay in a private home with access to a private beach area. Marisa passed away several years ago, and I don’t know if her children still own the house or not.

It makes me want to try hard to appreciate every experience in life, because you just never know how special it may be, how long it will last, or whether or not you’ll be able to experience it again.

Marisa, thanks for the memories!


Lucy said...

A lovely sharing of memories, and what blue sea!
Look forward to reading more about your friend Marisa one day.

Gioietta said...

I remember us talking about this on our trip. What a wonderful exciting and special adventure you had being in Argentario's un-crowded land.

Love those pictures too. I was just trying to imagine swimming at night time, gazing at the moon....sounds so wonderful.