I close my eyes for my afternoon siesta. I am deliciously sleepy after another long, slow lunch. Spaghetti with clams, fresh mussels with lemon juice and parsley, grilled eggplant drizzled with olive oil and my favourite, crunchy pieces of toast smothered in mascarpone and then adorned with anchovies, these really are a small piece of heaven in my mouth. Our feast is accompanied by cold local wine, Vermentino di Sardegna which we pour and drink in small portions so that we lose count of how many glasses we’ve had until the bottle is suddenly empty. We eat fresh, ripe peaches. My favourites are the ones that look as though they have been flattened between two heavy books. The flesh is a pale lemon colour, almost white and it is sweet without the acidic tang that some peaches can have. Lunch is finished with the symbolic espresso and a shot of cold mirto rosso, a sweet, red Sardegnian licquer made from the myrtle tree that grows here.
Listening to the lulling lap of the sea against the pebbly shore, I drift into a contented sleep where my dreams are ablaze with the colours of this Mediterranean island. Bright golden yellow, pink, red, purple and orange of the nameless flowering plants around Baia Sardinia and our villa, their prolific tiny flowers changing from one colour to the next and attracting giant black buzzing beetle-like bees to sample their sweetness. Iridescent purplish pink of the Bougainvillea that transform the white walls and granite stone of the houses into a wall of colour. Bright pink, baby pink, palest pink and pure white flowers of the Oleander trees that line the roads. Deep green of the thick thatches of wide stranded Sardegnian grass and the deeper forest green of the pine trees and the shrubs that surround the beaches. There is even the familiar olive green and peeling smooth grey of the eucalyptus trees and the prickly red of the banksia tree that catch me by surprise and remind me of home.
All around me, mountains of granite boulders that change colour depending upon the time of day, sometimes grey, sometimes tan, sometimes creamy gold and late in the day a blue grey before turning mauve and deep purple grey as the sun sets behind them. The brilliant blue of the cloudless daytime sky, fading into a paler blue where it meets the sea at the horizon. Under the full glare of the summer sun, the Mediterranean Sea sparkles more brilliant than any diamond ever could. At its depth it is a deep, dark blue and as it becomes shallow towards the sandy shore it fades from aquamarine to turquoise to topaz to a pale jade green until it is just clear water around my feet. Shadowy, silent, sea gulls that circle the pre-sunset sky. The fiery orange of the sun setting behind the steel grey sea and deep purple grey, shoots sprays of pink, purple, apricot and lemon light into the midnight blue evening sky. As the last of the orange flames slowly fade leaving only midnight sky, more and more lights appear in the village on the other side of the bay, and soon their twinkle and shine outnumber the silvery specks of stars in the sky.
These are the colours of my summer and the colours of my dreams. I wake from my slumber sleepily content. I’ve returned to island life once again. I always seem to find my way back here, time and time again, to this slower, simpler life. I pack my bag with the basic necessities, beach towel, sunscreen and book and head to the pebbly sandy beach to lie on the warm sand heart to heart with mother earth. And to watch my favourite gem once more and occasionally immerse myself in her cool, healing embrace. There is a rhythm to my time here, a pattern that repeats itself every day. Eat, sleep, read, beach and swim. And although it repeats, there is no boredom or desire to break the pattern. I have the best of Italy to enjoy here and I look forward to doing it all again tomorrow.
View from our villa over granite boulders
Long Beach, photo courtesy of David Mancini
Bougainvillea in Baia Sardinia
Circling sea gull pre-sunset