She was dying the day the small skiff pulled into my harbor. You could see she was young and attractive sitting straight-backed on the boat’s bench. Her stylish-white wrapped shirt and black pencil skirt fitted loosely on her skinny frame. The long auburn hair, pulled back with a white scarf made her look like a dashing World War I ace, blew in the wind but underneath her wayfarers hid dark circles.
I stood in the bay with water lapping my chest as I struggled to build a buffer for the beach I envisioned. They call me Pasquale and I am the manager of my late father’s hotel. He died eight months ago while I was away at the university in Florence, so I came back to help my elderly mother with the property.
Our hotel is the only one on the island in Porto Vergogna, Italy. One would think a prime place for a vacation, but we are the sixth of five very popular destinations called Cinque Terre. Each isle sporting hillside hotels overlooking the sea. Ours is nestled in a cliff and as the story goes served the fishermen of the area with cheap wine and cheap women.
Now, the clientele is mixed. We serve tourist whose language skills are not primo. Many times we get Germans and English who meant to say Portofino or Portovenere, but are understood as Porto Vergogna. A delightful American author who returns annually now accidently asked for Sei Terre and the water taxi did as he wished.
This American, Alvis Bender, became a great friend of my father’s. They would sit around drinking, watching the sun go down, and talking about each other’s lives with only an understanding of gestures and rare mutual words. It was from one of these late night ramblings that my father settled on a name for our property, Hotel Adequate View.
Orenzio, Pasquale’s childhood friend and local fisherman, helped the lady onto the dock. Her high heels a little shaky, she looked down and then over to Pasquale. He stood, rock hovering over his head in position to be thrown at the small jetty he was creating, mesmerized by her silhouette. She asked Orenzio, “Pardon me, what is that man doing?” The sound came across the bay to Pasquale as American gibberish and he quickly threw the rock and swam to shore.
Beautiful Ruins took fifteen years to write according to author, Jess Walter. He wrote many things such as screen plays, poems and even a book before he finished his Italian story. Readers will be thrilled with this sweeping love story and thankful he took the time.