Tuesday, September 24, 2013
The room I stand in is bare, the cold floor made of a composite stone and concrete. The walls are cream colored and a very dim light shines, just barely, from the hallway behind me.
There is an open window in front of me, my hands are touching the cool white painted wooden sill. The single glass pane of the window is attached to the house at one of the vertical edges, opening to the outside like a fragile door. Outside the sky is mostly dark but for the touch of cobalt blue on the horizon, that thin line which shatters the darkness. The beaming moon above is enough to light the night and I can see the thick cluster of old houses with terracotta rooftops that are clustered over the rolling valley. There are a few birds in the air, already chirping before daybreak.
The vision out the window is one snapped up by every tourist that comes to this town. 3, 4, or 5 story houses all squeezed in together, the terracotta rooftop tiles looking like an undulating ocean over the wavy hillsides.
The walls of the buildings below me are old, some have bits of grass and weeds growing from the cracks in their sides and small clumps of dirt that have settled in the rooftop gutters have sprouted little tufts of greenery.
On the very edge of the massive grouping is a more imposing church, its bright white-washed walls stand in stark contrast to the yellows, pale browns and beige of the terracotta houses, which in spite of their age still stand strong, proudly serving the life which carries on within them.
Chords of laundry lines connect neighbor to neighbor. They sit now empty, vibrating softly in the early morning air.
Planter boxes full of blooming red flowers hang off many narrow balconies or windowsills, there are dozens of satellite dishes protruding from rooftops or attached to wrought iron railings by the windows.
The houses are so close together I cannot see any roads or alleyways on the streets below, just visible are the chimneys and rooftops and the highest few floors of the buildings with their ample but small windows.
The structures are anything but uniform, though they roughly share the same dimensions, each has its own aesthetic, its own simple uniqueness which differentiates it from the ones beside it. Their only common trait is the warm-hued terracotta roof, the sense of an ancient, but living structure.