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Rose Masciello's Autobiography - Chapter Five

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                                                      The Honeymoon

Night was turning into day. Giovanna opened her eyes and gazed at her beloved Giovanni.
He was still sleeping, contentedly and peacefully. A glimmer of light shone in through
an edge of the shutters. Giovanna quietly slid out of bed, tip-toed to the mirror on the
wall, and with hands on rounded hips, whispered playfully to her own reflection, “Good
morning Giovanna Consoli. Why you don’t look any different than Giovanna Palmeri”! Her
young husband, who had just awakened, leaped out of bed and in three long steps was at
her side. He embraced her and chuckled as he saw the twinkle in her mischievous brown
eyes. In a deep voice, sounding very romantic, yet dramatic and comical, proclaimed to his
bride, “You were lovely as Signorina Palmeri, but you are even more beau-ti-ful as Signora
Consoli”! She giggled and teasingly called him her Adonis.

They finally joined the rest of the Palmeri family. Mamma Lucia and Anichia, Giovanna’s
younger sister, were busy perking coffee and taking their home-baked rolls out of the
oven. Pasqual and his two younger sisters, Nina and Margarita, were in school. Padre Stefano,
which was now the way Giovanni respectfully addressed his father-in-aw, was already sitting
at the kitchen table.

After breakfast they discussed the generosity of their relatives and friends. It was the custom
for wedding guests to give a bride and groom an envelope containing denaro. Giovanni
turned this money over to his father-in-law to be used towards the expenses of the coming
voyage to America, and also in appreciation for having been accepted so lovingly into their family.

Giovann’a parents had been spared the expense of providing their daughter with the
customary trousseau; there were restrictions as to the amount of belongings that immigrants
were allowed to bring on the ships sailing to America. They also felt grateful to the wedding
guests for having been so liberal with their gifts. With this thought in mind Stefano announced
to the young couple that he and Mamma Lucia were returning the wedding denaro to them,
and with their blessings suggested that they use the money to go on a “Honeymoon”. There
wasn’t enough denaro to go to Rome, Florence or Venice, but they could certainly
manage to spend a week in Taormina, a delightful hillside village nearby in Sicily. The
young lovers, surprised ad excited needed no convincing.

They had heard that Taormina was one of the most beautiful places in the world, a small town
that hung on to the side of a mountain overlooking the Ionian Sea with the mountains of Calabria
clearly visible in the distance. They made the short journey and when they arrived, they were
driven up the side of a majestic mountain carpeted with blooming bougainvillea. They were
enchanted by the natural scenic beauty that surrounded them. As the bus kept going further
up the mountain the scent of jasmine filled the air. On different levels of the mountain there
were restaurants, cafes and hotels nestled in purple and white flowers.

That evening Giovanni and his bride strolled arm in arm under a moonlit sky. Love and
romance were in the air. Honeymoon couples sat at outside cafes, holding hands across the
table. Vacationers from different countries and other parts of Italy sat on benches, singing love
songs. Others conversed in their own native language.

In this paradise built on a mountainside, the young lovers found that even climbing up to
reach a café, or shuffling down to a restaurant was exhilarating. They felt joyful and also
hungry. It did not take them long to find a trattoria where they had a delicious dinner while
making plans for the next day’s outing. As they leisurely walked back to their small hotel,
they gazed up at the star-studded sky with gratitude for the wonderful world the lived in.

The next morning after waking, they embraced: each one feeling blessed for having
discovered the secret to the mystery of life – it was love. The sun streaming into the room
beckoned them to make haste; they had made exciting plans for the day; so after a continental
breakfast they eagerly set out to find the historic Greek Amphitheatre, one of Taormina’s
most important attractions. They went to a performance of a Greek tragedy that held them
spellbound. Behind the stage they could see Mount Etna. Later they learned that, despite the
devastating eruptions of the volcano, people returned to this land because its rich
volcanic soil gave life and nourishment to the large vegetable crops and orchards in the
surrounding area.

The young couple bought tickets to go to the top of Mount Etna. They learned that Etna’s
peak soars eleven thousand feet above sea level and is visible from miles away. They
climbed the first six-thousand-five-hundred feet by bus. Most of their group stayed at that
level, but the adventurous couple went up another two thousand feet in a cable car, then
another two thousand feet past the ski slopes. Finally they hiked with their guide to the
barren mountain top and found it covered with brown lava rock and gravel. The guide,
probably to make the tour more interesting, related how a Frenchman some years ago had
accidentally fallen into the volcano. It was frightening to look into that deep bottomless pit,
especially while a freezing wind was blowing hard enough to topple a person into its depths
if you stayed too close. Giovanni and Giovanna held on to each other, shivering with the cold.
One middle aged man with a distorted sense of humor, asked his wife to step a little further
back and pose for him while he took her picture at the edge of the volcano. The young
couple would never forget their climb to the peak of Mount Etna, but they were glad when
they were tucked safely in the cable car, riding down toward the lush foliage and green valleys below.

On some evenings Giovanni and Giovanna would walk holding hands under the tars and
stop to talk to other young couples. When they met Americans, they enjoyed trying to
understand them. They had fun using sign language trying to tell them that they were
going to America and would soon be “Americanos” too.

The time came to say good-bye to Taormina, the closest place to paradise on earth. Their
honeymoon was over. They were so grateful to Giovanna’s parents for making this trip a
dream come true. Now they looked forward to life in America, but somehow their hearts
were starting to ache with nostalgia at the thought of leaving Sicily forever, the land of
their ancestors, and all of its natural beauty.