The True Significance of Colors

Coffee cups lined up

It’s always an incredible leap, agonizingly daring, my trip to Italy.   Holding my breath, cautious, yet feeling a new spring inside me, that flourishes, brilliantly green and light, young, innocent, a believer once more.  Capture history, my history, hold it gently, without judging and analyzing each detail, and embed it smoothly into my American reality.  An effortless, rational transition in order to maintain (or rather, obtain) a comfortable balance of past and present.  In an ideal world.  But the sun scorches my skin and my heart, when I arrive at Capodichino, the only airport that always welcomes me with the sizzling yellow luminosity of the South.  Ambushed by the dubious embrace of my native city, I offer my face to the warmth, close my eyes not to be blinded but its intensity, remove my jacket that protected me against the dry chill of the airplane, and resign myself to feel again, for better pictureand for worse.  Naples, gleefully sad streets, exploding with deafening traffic, blunt and enigmatic graffiti, a dazzling light that washes away – at least temporarily – its numerous imperfections.  Which mellows (not gently) into a majestic sunset that paints the sky the deep orange hue of Italian egg yolks (which are so much more than yellow, turning pastry creams and cakes into golden confections), shattering the evening sky, a spectacle of grandeur and infinite longing.  It dies in the sea, my Neapolitan sun.  A sea so blue and gleaming, gently undulating, lulling the fishing boats into the peaceful calm required to navigate it successfully.  Turquoise sea of the South, observed from the Granatello, the harbor in Portici, leaning against the thick low wall that gathers all the secrets of a past so significant and treasured that it often eludes me.  A sea so exceedingly deep that it suddenly explodes blood red with the fire of extreme desire, engulfing all actions and thoughts, dulling reason and common sense, a river of flames that dissolves all the bridges.  So you turn around, when the blaze is somewhat subdued, clear-minded again, and look for the bridges, but even their shimmery shadows have been absorbed by the ocean’s cruel waves. You must pull yourself together, then, close your eyes to block the onslaught of memories, wait – trembling – for the color of passion to fade into a wistful shade of violet, a patient and serene lilac, reconciled with what was and cannot be re-ignited, because that’s the way the universe works.  I shall exist through my colors, accepting each one, cherishing the taste of coffee, so intensely black and bitter, so much more potent and true than all the others. There to stay.


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