Something to Read in August: “Amandine, Vincenzo and Isola d’Elba”, a short novel by Amandine Mélan.
We conclude the month of August with yet another short novel submitted by our Community. This time it comes to us all the way from Belgium, it’s a true story and, for the most romantic among us, it’s also a love story. Born under the auspices of Acqua dell’Elba. Thanks to Amandine Mélan, thanks to everyone who read these stories during their holidays and…keep following us on our blog and social media channels to find out about our initiatives!
Isola d’Elba is profoundly connected to my love story with Vincenzo, which started ten years ago.
When we met through a common friend, Vincenzo was working at the penitentiary of Porto Azzurro. More precisely, his job was teaching Latin and Italian to the prisoners. I was living in Belgium at the time, having just started a doctorate in literature.
I was 24 years old. On the 12th of June 2009, after months spent writing each other knowing that a relationship between us was impossible because of the distance, though still with the impulsiveness and ingenuity typical of that age, I joined him, on his island, for a holiday weekend. I remember that day as if it was yesterday. Even though 10 years have passed.
Vincenzo took me to the beach of Lido di Capoliveri, we stayed for dinner. We then returned to Porto Azzurro, where he was living at the time. After a cocktail at the Curandero, he took me to gaze at the stars on the Carmignani walk, which is how our relationship really started. I knew from the first day that he was the one. Regardless of the distance, regardless of everything. It was a certainty. That had never happened to me before.
The firs year of our relationship, Vincenzo was still working at the penitentiary. I was still living in Belgium. The first few months we used to see each other once every month. To join him I used to take a plane from Charleroi to Pisa, then a train to Campiglia Marittima, followed by a bus to Piombino Marittima, and finally the ferry, either Moby or Toremar. When distant, we used to communicate by Skype, though it wasn’t as easy as it is today. There was no 4G. Vincenzo had a sort of small router in his little apartment whose signal reception was not great. He had therefore built a small “fishing rod” he used to position the router outside his open window.
Soon I started finding various excuses to spend more time in Italy, to be closer to him. First in Rome, then finally in Pisa. So, during the second year of our relationship Vincenzo moved to Piombino, on the Italian mainland, and we used to live in Pisa, in the same block of flats. However, travelling from Piombino to Pisa every day was hard and tiring for Vincenzo, which is why at the end of August 2011 he asked me to return to Elba with him. It was the start, until the birth of my daughter, of the best year in my life.
We were in Portoferraio. Starting from mid-April until mid-October, we went to the beach almost every day. We liked discovering different beaches every time: Procchio, Cavoli, Lacona, Fettovaia, Sant’Andrea, Sansone, Naregno…Capo Bianco, where I think the picture for Acqua dell’Elba’s advertisement was taken. Even the winter was beautiful: I saw the snow on the roofs of Portoferraio, on the Ghiaie beach. I loved being exposed to the natural elements, to the sea. Not knowing whether the ferry would leave, “with all this wind”. Finding a different rhythm of life, as an islander.
I have many memories of that time. Among them, the time I went to buy Acqua dell’Elba perfume for my mother! I also remember the pilgrimage to the tomb of another Francophone, the writer Hervé Guibert, friend and lover of Foucault, killed by AIDS at the beginning of the ‘90s and buried at the cemetery of Rio Elba. As well as all the memories connected to the penitentiary, a parallel world (inside another parallel world, because I repeat: living on an island is not the same as living on the mainland).
At that time, I was writing a thesis on Pasolini’s screenplays and scripts, I was correcting a treatise on psychiatry, translating theatre shows. The writing and rewriting work was only interrupted by our walks on the beach, our swims, our dinners. Me, him, the sea. Then the year ended, Vincenzo found a job in Livorno. We returned to Pisa. Then we made other moves, enjoyed other adventures. In Belgium, as well as around Pistoia. I was taking more and more flights to stay with my love in Italy, whilst at the same time pursuing the job I love in Belgium (I manage a social theatre company).
The 8th of July 2017 our daughter Joséphine came to life. She was just a few weeks when I started flying again. She always came with me. Almost always, we take the plane from Pisa airport, Galileo Galilei. Every time, I see it: the massive advertisement for Acqua dell’Elba perfumes. The beach of Capo Bianco. The wonderful colours of the perfume bottle. And I think of Elba again. Of how beautiful that island is. How beautiful our story is. In June of this year, it will be our tenth anniversary. It has been 7 years since the last time we were on Elba. When we left, it was two of us. When we will return, it will be three of us. Back to Porto Azzurro, where it all started. Or to Portoferraio, where we wrote a entire year of our beautiful story.