We arrived in Velletri early this morning, which was 2 a.m. in Cleveland. I was, indeed, exhausted, but pleasantly so. As we drove from Rome to my cousin's house in Velletri, it felt familiar somehow. Yes, I've been to Rome before (though not to Velletri), but there's something about the stucco roofed houses, the terracotta walls and delicate terraces, narrow winding roads and vineyards that seem to envelope me with a sense of nostalgia. After taking a nap for a few hours, we headed to Nettuno Beach, which is on the Mediterranean Sea. Right on the coast near the part of the beach we stopped at was an old church and lovely bell tower. I have a sort of deep admiration, teetering on obsession, with old bell towers.
There is also something about immersing myself in salt water, fresh, strong salt water, that is both cathartic and healing. As I walked next to my brother, my mom and dad in our wake, and slowly made my trek into the warm water of the sea, it felt as though I shed a layer of my skin, letting the saline water cleanse me to my core. I looked along the coast at the various cream and warm colored houses and hotels, stacked up against a stark blue backdrop and smiled against the sun, but it wasn't until the bell began to ring at 6 p.m. that my face truly lit up. I looked at my dad treading water several feet away and he smiled back and said,
"Now I really feel like I'm in Italy."