My First Impressions of Sorrento

Sorrento feels quaint in all the best ways.

Aged architecture is weathered with an unexpected sense of familiarity, as when encountering a stranger who feels like home.

Some buildings are undeniably striking and some more subtly so.

Walking around this city swarming with the bumbling drum of motociclette, honking horns, and single-file footsteps is a dichotomy of calm chaos, as if the welcoming comfort combined with the bustling liveliness sat on perfectly balanced scales.

Except that in the case of these balanced scales, it is not a cancellation but a conversation, a mutual need.

They could not exist without each other.

Maybe this experience is the reason it doesn’t feel real to be here.

It’s almost as if it were a dream, the nuanced balance too ideal to be ordinary life. 

The humidity encases you like a warm cloud, one so clear that the only rain is the sweat dripping from your skin.

And then the Mediterranean breeze sweeps around you like silk, cool and gentle, and you soak it in like the endless sunshine. 

I have yet to discover another place that feels so foreign and yet so much like home.

Have I gotten lost? Yes. But have I found my way back? Always (eventually). 

The locals are kind and welcoming, as I suppose anyone from a place thriving from tourism probably is.

I almost wish it wasn’t a tourist destination so that I could reach the heart of this city.

The heart of any place resides in the stories from previous generations, in the depths of memory and tradition.

There are hints of these memories in the delicacy that is i pomodori di Sorrento, in two seemingly old amici stopping in the alleyway for an impromptu chat;

in businesses opening with the ease of late morning, in il vulcano I see across the gulf from my apartment’s balcony.

And tradition lives on in a young son working at Pizza da Franco, wearing an apron sized for his five-year frame, and in i limoni and everything made with them from le bevande to i dolci to il sapone.

The iridescent sea holds the deepest memories, telling the truest story of all, harboring the heart of the people who have always been here. 

I am a boat floating atop the sparkling water, a boat among thousands of others from all over the world.

The ocean touches me, but I am not immersed. Not yet. To be submerged, one must let it all sink in. 

The streets change with the shifting sun, but the way it feels to be here doesn’t.

A mother is teaching her two children a side-step dance on their balcony.

Just after seven, the heat of the day has faded into a peaceful summer air.

Not hot, not cold. Ideal. 

Am I dreaming? 

I must be.