I spent months in this town. Day’s walking through empty streets, writing outside of churches, milking goats and watching the moon rise over the mountains outside of my balcony. To see Grimaldi means to taste it, to wake up in the middle of the night to the song of roosters, to take naps in the sun and pray under the light of a blue mosaic.
To fully taste Grimaldi, I must watch it being made. In the month of August, my zia Lisa peels apricots with her thumbs, sliding their skin back, to open them up and boil them into jam. I could smell the bubbling fruit walking up the hill to her house. The homes along her street kiss each other from both sides. Their walls the colour of medium cadmium yellow, holding the same hue as Lisa’s spread. She adds sugar by a large wooden spoon which match the roughness of her front door. Sometimes, I would wait outside her house with my half melted nocciola gelato in my hand. My eyes shut, breathing in the pungent smell of dying apricots. Sometimes, the wait is better than the taste.
L’albero di nocciole, hazelnut trees, often act as visual reminder for me to taste the sweet nectar of these nuts in the form of ice cream. Hazelnuts populate the floors of restaurant patios. Inside these fallen shells one could find a smooth pearled bulb, that resembles solidified cream. Yet, when I place one on my tongue and bite down, it fells as though I have taken a sip of rain water.
The women in Grimaldi hold the same quality as their towns hazelnuts. Strong women also gather on restaurant patios and can be seen hiding in the shade, eating gelato. They too have a rough exterior, arms that move in waves, voices that extend down large tables without being raised, and eyes that communicated more than words. Yet, their insides are smooth and refreshing, as pure as rain water.
It was in the southern regions of Italy where I began to see the texture of my heritage. Where I saw people become the life that surrounded them. To see Grimaldi means to taste it. To notice each espresso bar and family member passing in their Fiat, waving at you with both hands. To notice Grimaldi one must learn when to indulge and when to watch jam turn into paint and women mould into hazelnuts.
Cito, Natalie. My Yellow Place. Photograph, Grimaldi, 2017.
Cito, Natalie. L’albero Di Albicocca. Photograph, Grimaldi, 2017.
Elkins, James. How to Use Your Eyes. Routledge, 2000.