Choosing a Castle

I’m sitting by the pool of Il Casale di Riardo, reflecting on my life. Nearby a couple and their teenaged daughter are frolicking in the water, laughing together in French. It’s lovely to behold – a family truly enjoying each other. The resident swallows aren’t perturbed by the swimmers. They swoop and dive for bugs on the water’s surface.

The doctor told me yesterday that I have bronchitis. Bummer. Giovanna is a wonderfully enthusiastic employee of the B&B and one of her tasks is to stick me in the butt once a day with a one-inch needle containing antibiotics. I took one look at that length and the quantity of liquid that was about to enter my body, and flinched. But Giovanna does it expertly … and somehow painlessly. Her care of me, and Lydia’s, and everyone’s, has been a blessing.

I sure didn’t want to spend another day in bed so I headed off with the folks in the car to visit a 250-year-old castle that the King of Naples had built. A mere 1200 rooms! The Reggia di Caserta.

First on the menu, however, was a visit to the Mediterranean Sea. My first time. As we walked to the sandy beach, a broad expanse of sky and sea wrapped around me. The far shore was far beyond my eyes. And then the warm water was tickling my toes. As I walked the shoreline, happy tanned people were everywhere. So cool. A young woman was shepherding a bunch of three-year-old kids, all decked out in pink waterwings. Oh, how those kids loved splashing around! A few metres away, here came a girl cradling her younger brother in her arms. Smiling together.

The family sat in the shade by the snack bar, assorted drinks at the ready. Along came a marvelous variety of human beings, in various states of undress. Old, young, fit, not so much, outgoing, shy. It was lovely, even as we retreated from the 35 degree Celsius heat.

On to the castle. Inside, there were two huge courtyards separating wing after wing. We entered one labelled “appartamenti”. As it slowly sunk in what was surrounding me, I just about felt sick. Thirty-foot ceilings, some adorned with gold, others with paintings that would feel right at home in the Sistine Chapel; marble floors; stone walls and staircases that could have been on the Titanic; statues that looked so morose to me … but then again, maybe I was the morose one.

The rooms were so large and so empty of feeling. There were uncomfortable looking benches for sitting, but they were behind ornate ropes. Finally I found a simple chair where I could legally drop myself down. My main thought was the egos that created this building. “Look at me. I’m so rich.” And what of the thousands of ordinary folk who helped construct this monstrosity, some of them probably struggling to survive? Okay – end of lecture.

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There’s the physical building
There’s the life building
What shall I construct with the time that’s left?