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Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Roads around #Ravello 2. (Serialized Story in 12 Parts) by John von Daler

                On the edge of the mountain in Scala, just there where the sun disappears in the afternoon, an old cloister can be found. It is called San Cataldo. An ancient order of secular nuns has for centuries carried on a secret life in these massive halls. The aristocratic families of Napoli, when scandals have threatened and the mores of their daughters have been questioned, has often sent these proud women to Scala to weather the storms of society and to regain the poise of their natural status.
                 These women are not made of the stuff of nuns. And often their own free will has played no part in this mountain exile. They sit in the white halls, each at his own window, thinking of the courtly dramas in Naples and Rome and of the ways in which god has portrayed himself there in the many varied roles he has created for the opposite sex, the aristocratic gentlemen of Italy.
                 Often the old prioress, wise as she is both in the ways of god and of man, sends a message by mule and horse and boat to the courts of Europe, seeking to find there gentlemen who will divert these ladies without indulging those tastes that these fine women have been sent to San Cataldo in order to relinquish.
                  As it turns out, I received on a spring day in Copenhagen a beautiful Amalfi parchament sealed with the red wax of San Cataldo and bearing my name and family connections in all their pomp, Hr. komponist, John Daler von Durlachstein, B.S. Ingemansvej 28, Frederiksberg, Dinamarca.
The old prioress, with whom I am told my father had a dalliance in old Vienna, had written this missive to me. She remembered my father
forever after for the poise and discretion with which he concealed the questionability of her honor. The old prioress, had written to me to enlist my help in reviving the end of the summer season at the cloister. A guest there, a young gentleman from Baden-Baden, had evidently kept his promise of chastity as far as the rich spinsters were concerned, but had forgotten himself after having taken two sips of the Ravello Wine of Darkness and had performed an unspeakable act with the gardener in the cemetery just below the cloister. He thereby lived up to certain traditions initiated by the famous author D.H. Lawrence in his abode in Ravello where the native wine was
imbibed in unlimited quantities.

”Dear Mr. von Daler
As I know that you are acquainted with the famous scandal that has struck a blow across the sanctity and peace of our venerable institution and as I am
sure you are aware of the indescribable discomfort in which this places me and my order, I would beg you forthwith to honor us with your presence, the
season albeit close to being finished, yet I know that you in memory of your chivalrous father will not let me down and will fulfill this request post haste and in as decorous a manner as is possible.
Yours as always
Francesca della Pesto i Mare
Prioress of San Cataldo”

Now as it happened I had just visited as is my habit the friendly and skilled doctor who looked after my dental health. In his waiting room out of sheer boredom I had taken up a magazine of inferior quality whose contents I never would have considered perusing if it had not been for a picture that caught my eye: a young woman, scantily clad and striding with a steady gaze into the view of the reader under the caption, ”Helen Hunt in Ravello to make a moving picture.” I read the article which as usual told no more than the picture itself and thought to myself, Ah, to be in Ravello at late summer with Miss Hunt. (to be continued...)

Order my book: "Pieces: A Life in Eight Movements and a Prelude" (WiDo Publishing) from your favorite bookseller.

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