Over the next six weeks, I travel to Bologna, to Florence, to Venice, to Sicily, to Sardinia, once more down to Naples, then over to Calabria. These are short trips, mostly--a week here, a weekend there--just the right amount of time to get the feel for a place, to look around, to ask people on the street where the good food is and then to go eat it. I drop out of my Italian language school, having come to feel that it was interfering with my efforts to learn Italian, since it was keeping me stuck in the classroom instead of wandering around Italy, where I could practice with people in person.
These weeks of spontaneous travel are such a glorious twirl of time, some of the loosest days of my life, running to the train station and buying tickets left and right, finally beginning to flex my freedom for real because it has finally sunk in that I can go wherever I want. I don't see my friends in Rome for a while. Giovanni tells me over the phone, "Sei una trottola" ("You're a spinning top"). One night in a town somewhere on the Mediterranean, in a hotel room by the ocean, the sound of my own laughter actually wakes me up the middle of my deep sleep. I am startled. Who is that laughing in my bed? The realization that it is only me just makes me laugh again. I can't remember now what I was dreaming. I think maybe it had something to do with boats.