Driving away from Portofino, I felt that a burden had been lifted from my shoulders.
My plan sat in the passenger’s seat next to me, hastily sketched out in a notepad that I’d taken from home.
It was a pretty limited one, with a few notes of roads to take and places to stay scribbled down next to recipe ideas. From Portofino I would drive South, hugging the coastline before heading into the green hills and rustic roads of the Apennine Mountains. My destination, which I’d chosen arbitrarily, was Livorno – a port city which, unbeknown to me, was heading into the hottest part of the year.
Even though I’d enjoyed the fresh sea breeze of Portofino, I was glad to leave it behind. Rising through the hills, that salty air, which forever reminds me of times spent as a child building sandcastles, dissipated and gave way to a sumptuous scent of dried foliage and pine cones. I wound the window down as my mind began to drift back to those halcyon days. The midday sun was rising and the temperature gauge on my dashboard slowly began to rise. By the time I rolled into Marina di Carrara, just before the halfway point on my journey, I could feel individual beads of sweat racing down the length of my back and soaking into my cotton shirt.
Time for a break.
I’ve never been one to shy away from the simple pleasures in life – like a hot bowl of soup on a cold Winter’s day or an ice-cold bottle of soda on a baking hot day in Italy. Thankfully, the Italians appear to take the same opinion. Regardless of where you are in the country, you’re never too far away from a fridge packed full of cold beverages and an inviting parasol to relax under. That’s exactly what I found, mere steps away from my parked car on the edge of the town. As I let my mind drift, gazing out to the azure ocean calmly lapping the shoreline, I began wondering about how I was to support myself.
It was all very well wandering aimlessly across Italy, eating and drinking to my heart’s content, but without a permanent place to call home, I was going to be haemorrhaging cash badly. I thought of Joseph scrubbing BBQs and entertained the idea of setting up a cleaning business. I knew plenty of retired teachers that had pursued part-time work, to either keep them busy or to fund expensive new hobbies. The outcome, regardless of their chosen niche, would always be the same: steady absorption into the job leading to a return to full-time employment.
This was not something that I intended on doing.
The thought of scrubbing anything in this oppressive heat expelled any thoughts of work and made me instantly hungry. Finishing my bottle of Coke in one swift gulp, I eyed the neighbouring cafes and restaurants hungrily. With the smell of the sea once more arousing old memories in my head – I decided to find a place to eat some fish.