Italy: The Blue Grotto

The Blue Grotto’s entry appears suddenly from the foaming sea: a tiny, cavernous hole in the wet, aged mountain rock. It can be easily missed. The guide tells us to move from the seats to the bottom of the boat. He bows his head, grips the sides of the Grotto with both hands, and pushes the tiny boat inside. A few seconds of silence and darkness; then only the noise of the boat’s paddle. Slowly, my eyes adapt to the new surroundings. I look up. I can see the dark stone largely opening above our heads. The boat advances.  Suddenly, we are in a humongous grotto under the mountain; a grotto paved with blue, magnificent water. The light springs triumphantly from the phosphorescent floor. The core of the earth shines, its splendid rays piercing the water, beaming from below. Above us the sky transforms into a dark menacing matter. Heaven and earth change places. The sun moves under my feet. The gravitational force goes astray. My entire body gets shaken by a new, unknown feeling. I get lightheaded.

The guide turns toward me. His gray eyes are widely open, luminous, saturated with the light coming from below. He whispers:

“The emperor’s private pool, my lady.”

I do no reply. I look around. Dark corridors open in the wall of the grotto. Where do they lead? This was a place where nymphs were worshiped. Still whispering the guide asks me to put my hand into the water. I do it. My hand metamorphosizes into bright silver. I hear him saying something about some kind of mystery that colors here every object immersed into water in silver. I take my hand from the water, and turn toward Miguel. He does not move. His green eyes look golden now.

The guide is paddling again. We are getting close to the walls of the grotto. The Roman Emperor: Tiberius. I have a strange feeling that his spirit has remained here, forever, in the splendor of this cold, staggering grotto, far away from Rome’s madness. Yes, Tiberius’ spirit is still here, in this place in which there is only past; in this place where the future will never be born.

A light noise is coming from the water. “The emperor’s private pool???” Oh, no, much more than that: Tiberius’ universe of eternal, and ethereal peace; an enigmatic dome with dark, wet walls, and polar-blue water floors; a place perpetually dedicated to the deification of the virgin nymph, whose pristine beauty dethrones forever Aphrodite’s pagan looks.

The guide turns the boat toward the exit. In a few minutes we are out. A rough sun hits my eyes. The Grotto’s polar water brakes into millions of particles from which the foaming green sea is born again. I want to go back into the Grotto!  Yes, I want to go back to that place, the only place I have known in which even the last remembrance of any human neurosis dissipates like morning fogs.

“Miguel, I want to go back!”

He looks at me. His eyes look green again, and a childish smile appears on his face.

“How much does the Grotto cost, Clara? I am thinking of buying it.”


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