Blood in the Streets of Sorrento

October 14, 2019

My Amsterdam arm is so bruised and nasty looking that at first I want to hide it. This isn’t a problem in Holland, where the weather is cool enough for long sleeves, but the minute we land in Naples, I know I’m screwed. The sun has already set by the time we disembark, but whooo, it’s still steamy. No long sleeves here, even at night. I immediately begin to sweat and the 75-minute drive to Sorrento in a taxi without air conditioning feels endless. Still, it feels good to be in Italy–my happy place. It especially feels good because I never, ever get stomach ailments from the Mediterranean diet and my flirtation with burgers and fries in Amsterdam has done me NO favors. I actually throw up in the airport (don’t even make it to an infamous Dutch toilet. I have to settle for a Ziploc baggie in my purse. Sexy as Hell).

“Jesus, you look terrible,” my husband says. “Do you want me to re-book our flight? There’s a hotel connected to the airport.”

“I’m gonna barf no matter where I am,” I say. “Just get me to Italy.”

I do not vomit in the un-air conditioned taxi, for which I am eternally grateful. I’m also grateful that my husband doesn’t mention that my condition is a direct result of my crappy dietary choices in the land of wooden shoes and bicycles. But those Dutch fries, y’all. Almost probably worth it.


Sorrento is the gateway to the Amalfi coast and when I look out the window in the morning, I’m in awe. How they get buildings, hotels, villas built on such steep cliffs defies logic.


We sit under lemon trees at breakfast, and the smell of them permeates the air. We spend the first day loafing at the rooftop pool and wandering around the town square, which is delightedly and blessedly flat. Positano and Amalfi kick our asses with the uphill trekking, but Sorrento is comfortably walkable and paved in charming cobblestones.

We eat homemade pasta and sip local wine in a teeny little trattoria (maybe ten tables). The chef, Carmen, is the only one in the miniscule kitchen, and truthfully, there isn’t room for anyone else. She’s busting her butt in there, working quickly in the steam and juggling different pans on burners. Everything on the small menu is homemade and the portions are large for Italy. We definitely over-order and I can’t finish my pasta in the end, which earns me a good-natured scolding from Carmen. She’s killing it back there but she’s got her eagle eye on every plate in the room, making sure people are happy.

I am happy. So happy that I even forget my ugly arm.


We stroll around the shopping district after dinner, full of pasta and drink and La Dolce Vita. My husband spots a whimsical dress with dragons and tigers on it, and I’m smitten. The only one in the store is on the mannequin in front, and it looks impossibly small. My husband insists I try it on anyways.

“It’s not going to fit,” I say. “That thing is tiny.”

“Just try it on,” he insists. He knows that I suck at shopping and try to get out of it whenever I can but I humor him and Viola! It must be a magical dress because it somehow fits in all the right places.


I have to wait a few days to wear my magical dress because the next few days are spent on a boat, speeding around Capri and the Amalfi coast in waters that are so turbulent at times that we get absolutely soaked. I gasp for air in steep Positano and look at the crowded beach–stuffed with Eurotrash and tanned skin–and I’m grateful we’re staying in sleepy Sorrento. It’s nice to pretend for a day or two, but the jet set is not my bag, folks.


By the end of those days on the water, we stagger back to our hotel, exhausted and salt-crusted. And starving because both my husband and I fear getting seasick so we eat very little all day long; by evening, I’m ready to eat my freaking shoe. Luckily, there are casual little homestyle places peppered around town that we can scarf our weight in pizza, pasta, seafood fresh from the Mediterranean. We eat very, very well in Sorrento.


I went to Italy and didn’t get crapped on by one. single. bird.

Not that I know of, actually. But it could have happened because on our sailing trip around the coast, we stopped at this beautiful, crazy waterfall that seemed to appear out of nowhere, nestled in the high rocks. Our captain encouraged us to get under it, for good luck.

I took one look at that thing and knew that it was BAD luck in DanaLand because a) in order to get under it, you had to hang off the front of the boat, clutching a weathered rope and b) when I looked at the top of the waterfall, guess what was splashing and frolicking around in the water? Birds. Seabirds. Several of them.

The lovely Canadians on the cruise with us both partook in the waterfall, squealing at the cold and the precarious footing.

“You have to do it,” they urged.

Umm. no. I explained my long and unfortunate history with birds, but they were unimpressed. “Just do it,” they said. “What can happen, really?”

Clearly they have no idea who they are dealing with.

I’m a sucker for peer pressure because I did, indeed, go under the waterfall, clutching the rope in a death grip, envisioning all of the residual bird shit that was probably seeping into my hair and swimsuit. I took the longest shower known to man when I got back to the hotel.


Our last day in Italy was September 15th, our anniversary. Nineteen years. Can you believe that shmuck has tolerated me for that long? I busted out the magic dress and the high heels for dinner under the stars and Sorrento sky, and it was all so perfect and so romantic that I was almost able to ignore the Parisian couple sitting next to us who obviously hated each other’s guts and ate stiffly, wordlessly. The woman sighed and glowered in equal measure while he laser-focused on his plate of linguine.

“Tell me we’ll never be like that,” I said, clutching onto my husband and stumbling on the cobblestones in my heels.

“We’ll never be like that.”

“Okay. Because that was horrid.” I give up and decide to take off my heels. “I’m just gonna have to walk the rest of the way barefoot.”

People stare at me and one amused shopkeeper gives my husband a wink and a grin, as if to say “That American girl sure can’t handle her champagne, eh signore?” but at least without shoes, I’m not stumbling like an idiot. Or so I think.

The hotel is almost in sight when I stumble on a cobblestone and split my big toe wide open on a shard of rock.

“Fuck!” I yowl. “That really freakin’ hurt!”

Red spills out onto cobblestones.

“Jesus, you’re bleeding like a pig,” my husband mutters. We limp to the hotel, which is entirely paved in beautiful, intricate tiles and I leave a trail of bloody ooze behind me as we head to the elevator.

I stick my mangled foot in the bathtub and run steamy water over it. It stings like a bastard.

As I’m nursing my injury, I hear my husband on the hotel phone. “Uh, yeah.” He sighs deeply. “You might notice that there’s blood all over the tiles in your entryway and down the lobby? That’s from my wife.” I can almost feel him rolling his eyes.

“No, no, she doesn’t need medical attention. I just wanted to let you know about the bloody trail she left in your hotel. Yes, actually, ice would be great. No, please don’t worry about it. That’s just…her.”


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Kel October 14, 2019 at 11:32 am

Oh damn, girl. You need to carry a first-aid kit in your purse! LOL

You guys are a sweet, dedicated, hilarious couple. Kudos to your 19 years.


Annie October 14, 2019 at 12:51 pm

You are too cute for words. Love you and all your banged up pieces! Italy sounds amazing. I definitely need to put it high on the travel list!


Dawn in Michigan October 17, 2019 at 3:43 am

Happy belated Anniversary. Maybe you should carry gauze and compression tape in your purse at all times. You know, just in case.


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