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Monterey: Mi Amore!

“When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie . . .” wafts over the ancient adobe walls of The Pacific House in Monterey and serenades me as I am draped like a round of dough across a bench at my favorite park. I am cooking in the sun, surrounded by golden gingko trees, tawny grasses and brandy roses.

I have come here to write a speech and escape the entombing fog just over the hill.
While riding my bike along the bike path in Monterey I came to Portola Plaza and the scintillating Italian Festival. Hundreds of Italians and lovers cruised vendors’ booths that reeked of roasting garlic, Chianti and beer, parmesan cheese, luscious meatballs and scarlet tomato sauce.

The band was plugged into more than electricity. Their energy had 70-somethings doing the two-step and rocking and rolling all day long.

It’s a strangely wonderful thing, this park. There can be multitudes celebrating just around the corner but few people discover this little gem. And when they do, they are delighted to find passion vine-covered stucco bathrooms.

Inspiration overtakes me amid the petunias and emerald green grass while cars buzz past this inner sanctum.

As for passion - man oh man! The Italians have it. Some of my dearest friends are Italian. I think if I come back to this world in a second life it will be as an Italian or Polynesian.

Nix to the cold and wet weather of my Scottish, English and Irish relatives. Nix to Scotch eggs, bread pudding and potatoes. Ditto for tea, propriety and pole hurling.

“Volari” is playing now and the audience is singing along. These are my people. I’m moving to Rome.

On the other hand, maybe not. I just remembered my one and only trip to Rome in ‘75. It was a nightmare. I expected to be pinched in the street, and I was. No biggie. But dullard that I am, I consented to eat buffet and drink the water on a tour with the man I had just married. Immediately following, I became desperately ill, as did the entire group on the tour bus. But not my interminably upbeat, optimistic, healthy husband (this played a large part in our divorce but I won’t linger there).

Thank God I already had seen Michelangelo’s breathtaking works at the Vatican with the dust dappled shafts of light streaming through the miles-high windows. But I never saw Pompeii, my foremost destination.

No, I was back at the hotel with an Italian doctor whose only words I could understand were that I should have “bambinos.” He gave me a shot of something that knocked my stomach spasms and me out cold and who knows what happened after that? My husband was downstairs – at the wrong door – still waiting for him . . .

At any rate, the golden slant of light in this heavenly park, the little gold-dusted butterflies hovering about the golden calendulas and an Italian serenade had me glowing – gold, of course. Which only makes sense when you consider that the park is named after the Casa del Oro - House of Gold – on its grounds that in former centuries was a repository for gold.



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