Old Town

Trip Start Jul 14, 2010
Trip End Apr 26, 2011

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Flag of Italy  , Lazio,
Monday, July 19, 2010

While Gerald was in training on base I put on a brave face and went off exploring on my own.  I set off from base and walked a few blocks down the shore line into Old Town Gaeta.  It was only 7:30am so not many of the shops were open and there was a quiet sense of rest in the air.  To my left across the harbor stand the mountains, shrouded by an early morning haze, that dims the harsh lines of their rock faces.  The harbor is empty save for a sailboat, resting at anchor, floating on the glassy surface.  There are a myriad of ships docked in the harbor including yachts for the rich and rowboats for the rest of us.

Gaeta is the timeless combination of ancient and modern.  There are war barracks and churches dating back decades and centuries next to the Italian NATO base and the hip new clubs and restaurants for the locals.  Life moves at a muted pace in Gaeta and there is a sense of relaxation found here that only dims when driving down their roads

At the end of the shoreline I stopped at a little park in Old Town and just sat still for a bit and watched Gaeta come awake.  I sat quietly as I watched old men greet each other as they sat to read the morning paper or walk their dogs.  I wondered at how the men of Gaeta all carry "man purses" and tried to imagine my American male friends doing the same.  Needless to say that mental picture didn't quite develop.  I smelled the fresh bread of the bakeries nearby as well as the salt of the harbor 100 feet away.  A few blocks away stands Gaeta's castle on top of a mountain offset by the yellow cranes attending its upkeep.  

Gaeta's life revolves all around me as I sit on a park bench soaking up the Italian sun, belatedly thinking I should have brought sunscreen.  I eventually rise from my resting spot and begin to wander down the small side streets that make up this small Italian town.  The buildings are minglings of muted color against a rocky beige mountain face.  The locals glance at me, disinterestedly identifying me as a tourist, and go about their morning routine.  I wish I could speak to them but I haven't worked up the courage for that step just yet. 

The air is cool this early in the morning and sings through the streets carrying with it the scents and sounds of Old Town.  I let my mind wander where it will and try to identify the restlessness that still plaques me as I walk around this peaceful little slice of Italy.  No answers come to mind as the sun continues to heat my skin.  As I head back toward base past the churches, parks, and restaurants, I look forward to sitting in my park with a book and watching the locals wander about me.

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