Another bad night as the tweeting slave birds sang their song of freedom and in a slightly new twist (making me suspect we are on the Italian version of Candid Camera) each time I took out the key card to silence those wilful avian serfs the air conditioning unit would switch itself on. Last night the air con had been permanent, but tonight it was a choice: angry birds or cool and noisy wind? Added to this was the frustration of feeling tired already and the pressure to get some sleep (and possibly an undigested late night tiramsu) and you had the recipe for the nightmare (waking of course) of insomnia.
I managed to turn up the air conditioning so that at least the room wasn't freezing and finally got a few zzzzs, but both my wife and I were frazzled in the morning and the trip to Capri had to be postponed again. I did my least patient complaining yet to the woman on reception and hopefully the issues can be sorted. But was it a coincidence that there were no peaches this morning? This edition of the Italian TV show "Pomposo Privilegiato Inglese Genitali Vendetta" or "Pompous Privileged English Genitals Revenge" should be a cracker.
I didn't want to spend a third day in a row sitting by the pool when we had so much to see so we took a less involved trip up the coast to Amalfi to look at the shops and have some lunch (by a strange fountain filled with plastic toys standing on volcanic rock - thought this might be a hallucination brought on by my lack of shut-eye but someone else has seen it too). It's a super odd combination of old and new and if the toys had cocks for noses then it might be a work by the Chapman brothers. I don't know how it started and I don't want to know. I like the fact that it's there though. It's properly freaky and cool.
I asked for a cappuccino at the end of the meal and the waiter told me that they had run out of milk. Which seemed a bit unlikely given they were a restaurant and this was Friday afternoon - surely they were going to need some and it might be worth sending someone out to get some from the shop- which made us worry in our paranoid sleepless state that they were trying to get rid of us for some reason. But I just has an espresso and they didn't seem that bothered about bringing us the bill when we asked. So maybe they were just unprepared and really lazy when it came to buying milk.
We then got a very hot bus to Minori, the next town along from Maiori where we're staying and visited their Roman Villa. I wasn't expecting all that much, but it's quite an impressive site and a massive structure (with at least a quarter of it hidden beneath modern day houses). There was a big pool in the garden bit in the centre and my wife stood beside it, which knowing of my desire to push her into any body of water and love of Roman history was a terrible temptation - some would say entrapment. Imagine pushing her into a pool that had been used by actual Romans. I certainly was. Plus it was full of green slime which would have made her look really funny. As well as wet. She'd have been enraged. I somehow resisted. Is this what you humans call "love"? No, I think it's what you humans call self-preservation.
As this is quite a minor town (look at its name - even they know) and a minor villa, we were the only people here, which gave a sense of peace and of creepiness. As I stared into some of the unlit rooms that we weren't allowed into I did get a little chill running down my spine. Alas quite a few bits of the villa were off limit, including the baths which would have been accessed via a very creepy, dark tunnel and which lay under modern housing.
I love the fact that ancient Romans once holidayed in the same place that I am on holiday and spent the afternoon imagining them frollicking in the sea in full military get up (with those helmets that doubled as brushes for Roman dust pans and brushes). But seriously, how amazing is it that I am sharing this link with the past? How much like us they were. And how that speaks of the human condition and our connection with the past. Even though a Roman holiday would be nothing like I am imagining it, it's still awesome that people have been relaxing on this little patch of the Earth for at least 2000 years and might still be doing so in another 2000.
We looked at the objects of the past and then in turn I looked at the objects of the present and wondered which of them people of the future will be walking past in museums or archaeological sites. Will that bench have people gawping at it? That road sign? That old man's skellington? The keycard system at my hotel with its mournful tweeting? The way that history puts you in your place is wonderful and terrifying. The world does not revolve around us. It revolves regardless. We weren't here once and we won't be again and ultimately we are meaningless blobs of walking meat. Which is what makes life so great and breath-taking. Not that we are here for a purpose of at the will of some god, but that we are here anyway. But whilst we can see remains of what has passed, we can't see the day to day interactions. We sat eating ice cream as a wedding was being prepped for in the local church and a smiling police-woman directed traffic and bantered playfully with the locals. That doesn't end up in a museum. That's the stuff of life. Just being here to observe it.
And so on.
We got back to Maiori and booked ourselves a boat trip to Capri (tomorrow was booked up so we're doing it on Sunday) and drank a couple of beers and played with a dog that looked a bit like Dennis Healy (this might have been a hallucintion). We'd largely overcome our fatigue and had a relaxing jaunt. Being tired on holiday is not the worst thing that can happen to you after all.