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  • Daydreaming of Italy in the Spring
    Our Paesani

    by Francesca Di Meglio

    At this moment, I'm lying on my boyfriend Antonio's bed in Ischia, a small island off the coast of Naples. And it's a chilly yet sunny February afternoon. I've been coming to Ischia in the winter since I was 2 years old. But a few times I made the trek in April. Nothing is more beautiful than Italy - and especially Ischia - when everyone wakes from hibernation in the springtime.

    The flowers begin to bloom, as early as March, in shades of pink and red and yellow. The cement houses finally start to heat up thanks to the strong sun. The birds chirp at your window in the early morning hours. And everyone has a smile on his or her face.

    Nowadays, whenever I come in the winter, I try to warm myself up with images of Italy in the spring. Last time I came in April, I even went to Firenze and walked on the Ponte Vecchia, did some window shopping at the famous jewelry stores and ate at a charming restaurant with the doors wide open even as the nighttime chill arrived.

    In fact, some of the best memories I have of Italy happened in the spring. For starters, I met Antonio when I was in Ischia in April 2004. At the time, I didn't know if it would be true love or not, but I was certain of one thing: He was beautiful and kind and I wanted our friendship to turn into something more. Thankfully, love is in the air in springtime - and my wish came true.

    One year earlier, I celebrated Easter in Ischia and it was one of my best of all time. On the day after Easter, Italians observe Pasquetta or Little Easter. Young people often share picnics with their friends in little rooms that their families build just for parties. I went to one of these picnics with my cousins in 2003. And afterward we headed for the beach and relaxed on the sand for hours. It was probably the last time I remember having a relaxed face without a single line on it. If only I could relive those moments whenever I needed to recharge my batteries! It's a tranquility that washes over you and lasts a few weeks - until you return home.

    That year my friend Pamela was brave enough to take a ride on a Vespa, again to go to the beach. The more adventurous among us will love to hop on a motor scooter and check out the local scenery. Just remember to wear your helmet.

    I've also traveled to Capri, which is about 30 minutes from Ischia by ferry, many times in the spring. Island hopping is much more fun as the weather changes because it's warmer than the winter but not crowded like it is in the height of summer. And the tiny boat ride into the Grotta Azzurra is a pleasure with the spring sun beating down on you while your "captain" serenades you with songs like "O Sole Mio."

    If you head to Italy's mountains, you can hike without sweating like a pig or freezing like a popsicle. The natural wonders you see will astound you. I can only imagine how beautiful it must be up north. But visitors to Ischia, for example, might choose to climb up to Mount Epomeo, the highest point on the island. The view from up there includes every important point on the island - from Maronti, the island's largest beach, to the Castello Aragonese.

    Right now, I'm returning to reality after my lovely dreams of spring in Italy. I'm now sitting on Antonio's couch with his nieces, who are trying to do my hair while I type. We're stuck in the house because it's too cold to play outside. They're ripping my hair out in clumps, but they're staying quiet and letting me get some work done. We're spending quality time together. And that is the best part about Italy; everyone can find loved ones with whom they can catch up, whether it is winter, spring, summer or fall - and that won't having you rip your hair out. I promise you'll have the time of your life.

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