In the summer of 2019, my friends Lydia, Jo, Curd and Anja invited me to accompany them to Italy. And I said yes.
Most of the time we stayed in a classic village – Riardo. But one day we drove south to Napoli. Such narrow streets, where neighbours could reach out from their high balconies and almost touch the fingers across the way. And the harbour was a surprise broadening to the blue of the Mediterranean Sea.
But the highlight I experience today, as I cast myself back to the past, is underground.
The Catacombs. I’m gamely resisting the temptation to Google the place – to feed you the details of time and religion and customs. So that won’t be a part of our day.
But the darkness is … along with the history of death. The Catacombs are for cherished souls as their bodies lie down and fall apart over time.
It was more intimate than a graveyard, more of a touching. I don’t know who got to walk in The Catacombs as people and their clothes disintegrated but I bet they felt the mystery of souls departed, some of whom perhaps still lingered in the close air.
The silence flowed with our walking that day. We were accompanied by the repose of long ago men and women, people who felt the same emotions as we “modern folk”.
Some of the resting places were small …
The tragedy of kids dying was deeper below the ground. I remember pausing a long time before the sanctuaries of the little ones. Intense loss.
I managed to forget about The Catacombs in the years between but this morning’s search for Italian photos brought it all back. Clearly The Catacombs have entered me and I them.
From dust you came
And to dust you shall return