Emanuele Stefanori & Michela Guida, translated into English by Ruth Stephens
Chapter 2 – At The Amalfi Coast
With the phone still in his hand, Paolo reflects on the call he has just made.
He’s a bit puzzled, but in the main, satisfied with the outcome. He spoke to the man who had placed the advert in the paper, who confirmed that the villa was indeed available to let at such an affordable rent.
Paolo hadn’t wanted to ask too many questions and the man had seemed serious and genuine. So, not wanting to miss such an unexpected opportunity and keen to start his research as soon as possible, he had had no hesitation in arranging to meet him at the house at 4 o’clock the following afternoon.
While he is thinking about what to put in his suitcase, his mobile phone rings. It’s Silvia again.
“Hi, Sweetie! Well, have you found anything?”
“You’ll never believe it but I’ve had a stroke of luck! I’ve found a villa by the sea and guess what? It’s only 30 euros a night!”
“Cool!” When do we go?”
Paolo is not expecting this question and isn’t sure how to answer it.
“Babe, I’m sorry, but this time I’m going by myself. I’m leaving tomorrow morning. I need to concentrate on my work. If you like, you can come and see me there in a few days…”
Although clearly disappointed, Silvia reluctantly accepts this explanation.
Paolo is a little uneasy, though he keeps telling himself not to worry. Maybe he’s still not sure whether the advert is genuine. Or perhaps he just has a strange feeling about it. But whatever the reason, he doesn’t sleep well that night.
The next morning he sets off in his car and reaches Sorrento around lunchtime. He has never been to the Amalfi coast and is struck by its beauty. There’s time for him to eat and then explore the town, and while he does so he begins to have the first ideas for his book.
He arrives for his appointment at the villa a little before 4 o’clock, parks the car and walks towards the gate. He can see immediately that the house has been neglected; it looks as if it has been uninhabited for years. The garden is overgrown and the house itself doesn’t look at all like a holiday villa. Just to make sure, he checks the address on the piece of paper he has in his pocket. Yes, this is the right house, there’s no doubt about it.
Paolo is looking at the two big palm trees in the garden when he hears someone calling his name.
The owner of the house is a middle-aged man with a distinguished appearance, dressed in a beige suit with a cravat at his neck and wearing an elegant white panama hat.
“Welcome!” he greets Paolo, gesturing towards the house, “Isn’t it wonderful?”
“Yes, it really is a lovely house. Quite old…”
“It’s been in my family for generations.”
“But you don’t live here?” asks Paolo, curious.
“No, it’s a long story… Let’s just say I inherited this villa jointly with my sister, with whom I really don’t get along; we practically never see each other.”
“But let’s not stay outside. Come on in.”