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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

La Bella Vacanza - 1. Saturday

Nobody should be taking this story remotely seriously.

La Bella Vacanza is an intentionally lightweight and fluffy summer holiday story. It doesn’t offer any real development of my ongoing dramatic storylines. It’s also a bit, um… cheekier... than my other stories!

It’s all meant to be in good fun, and I hope nobody reading this will be offended, regardless of their background.

Saturday

Maybe Mum will stop droning on about it now…

Okay, so the wall of heat as they stepped off the plane had been pretty impressive… but, so far, Reza wasn’t impressed with Naples. The tall pine trees littering the car park were kinda cool… they sort of looked like umbrellas… but the airport wasn’t much more than a bunch of tatty metal and concrete sheds, and the surroundings looked like a bunch of crappy factories and tenement blocks.

Reza pulled out his treasured Nokia to text Tania. He had been pestering Dad to buy him one of those new iPhones for months but, so far, no joy. It wasn’t as if they didn’t have the money, but Dad kept going on about privilege having to be earned.

Naples a total dump,’ he typed, thumb flickering expertly over the keypad. ‘Can’t believe parents dragged me away on this trip.

The response was quick to come back. ‘lol 2 bad 8). missin u already. luv u. x

Reza smirked. ‘Luv u 2. xx

Ever since Mum had booked this holiday back in the spring, it seemed to be all she could think about… that is, when she wasn’t busy making her bespoke dresses. Something to do with her having spent a happy few months in Italy back when she was at University, or whatever.

“When we go to Ravello…” she would say for the hundredth time, at which point Reza would immediately tune out of the conversation while she raved on about some other aspect of the local landscape or culture.

Seriously, what’s the big deal?

Wasn’t sixteen supposed to be the age of freedom? Having finally finished his GCSE exams in June, Reza had been planning a summer of hanging out with his mates and, maybe, taking things a little further with his girlfriend. He certainly hadn’t envisaged a whole week of cultural enrichment in the company of Ramin Farzan, property developer, and Helen Farzan, fashion designer.

Yeah, it was only for seven nights, but still… it wasn’t fair!

“Reza!” Dad called from beside the taxi. “Quit mooning over your phone and help me load the luggage.”

Reza rolled his eyes, shoved his Nokia in his pocket and strolled over to help. Dad gave him a weary look with his chestnut brown eyes as they hefted their suitcases into the boot.

“Do at least try to appreciate being somewhere new,” Dad rebuked him.

“It looks like a second rate shopping mall,” Reza objected.

Dad shook his head despairingly. “Yes, well, who judges a place by its airport?”

Mum had arranged a private transfer to the hotel as, supposedly, this Ravello place was over an hour away. Reza prepared for boredom as he settled down in the back of the taxi with Dad. At least the car had air conditioning… that was something.

Mum sat in the front, attempting to converse with the driver in Italian as he guided them onto whatever passed for a Motorway in these parts. The tenements, warehouses and bedraggled, dusty shrubs that scrolled past as they drove were a far cry from the comfortable townhouses and tree-lined streets that he was used to back home in Guildford, but Reza paid them little attention, so focused was he on his phone and his chat with Tania.

guess wot,’ Tania wrote. ‘Meera caught Ben n James bein all close n stuff bhind the leisure centre. They tried to laff it off but she weren’t fooled. They r totes gay for each other.’

Reza laughed aloud. ‘That’s sick.

lol I no right XD

Reza was struck by a sudden, vivid mental image of the skinny, bookish James being straddled in bed by athletic swim star Ben. Soft candlelight played off the comic book posters on the walls and the toy space ships on the shelves while Star Wars music played on the hi-fi. For some reason, both were naked.

EW! He cringed. Why did I just picture that?

‘This conversation is making me feel dirty,’ he texted back.

hehe, u noes u luvs it.

Reza began to giggle quietly to himself, earning him a funny look from his father.

“I swear, I don’t know what goes on in your head anymore,” Dad said wryly.

Reza shrugged at him and turned back to his phone.

Ecco Vesuvio,” the driver said suddenly.

“Huh?” Reza grunted, looking up and placing the phone down on the seat for a moment.

They were still surrounded by drab apartment buildings, but now an enormous, green-brown mountain loomed over them. The few white villas on the lower slopes were dwarfed by the great open crater at the top.

From the front passenger seat, Mum beamed back at him. “Imagine that, Reza,” she enthused, her bright hazel eyes peeping out through her wavy brown bangs. “One of the most famous volcanoes in the world, and it’s right in front of you.”

“Cool,” Reza replied, with almost genuine admiration. Staring up at the dormant mountain, he grinned at the thought of it exploding right now, burying all these dowdy tenements in rock and hot ash.

And the world gave thanks…

All the same, the sight of it had captured his interest for the moment. He returned the phone to his pocket.

* * *

When they finally got off the Motorway, or Autostrada as it seemed to be called, they churned along the main road through a small working town. Crowded with scruffy apartment blocks and grubby petrol stations, it left Reza just as unimpressed as the airport had. However, when they escaped its gloomy confines and began to climb towards a great green mountain ridge, he had to admit to a certain curiosity. He had only ever seen lemons in boxes in the supermarket, so to suddenly find himself surrounded by acres of lemon plantations was something else. They ripening fruit hung plumply between dense blankets of glossy, dark green foliage… sort of like breasts… and they were massive.

A couple of towns later, and they were halfway up the mountainside, climbing hard via a series of tight hairpin bends.

‘This road we’re on is like an intestine,’ he texted Tania.

‘gross! :P’ she replied, but Reza was already distracted. They were so high up now that he could see for miles and, way out beyond the endless sprawl of Naples, he could see an expanse of the brightest blue.

Did I know we were going to be by the sea?

The surprises continued when they crossed a mountain pass and the city sprawl vanished from view: just like that, they were in the midst of a landscape that looked like something out of a James Bond film. The car cruised along a deserted road that wound around deep valleys and tree-crowned peaks. Mountain scrub and chestnut trees crowded in from the uphill side, casting flickering shadows on the sun-drenched tarmac. Suddenly, the leafy Surrey suburbs Reza was used to seemed tame by comparison.

“What is this place we’re going to, Mum?” he asked.

Dad chuckled. “I’m glad you’re finally taking an interest.”

Mum groaned. “Haven’t you listened to anything I’ve said, Reza? The Amalfi Coast is famous for its natural beauty.”

Reza frowned. Never much one for exploring, he was more used to hanging around the local park with his mates from school. They kept him grounded, Mum and Dad said – sending Reza to a privileged private school in the countryside had never really been an option for them, even though they could easily have afforded it.

No, he was a town boy, used to a life of clothes, television, cars and pop music. He didn’t really have a frame of reference for anything like this.

* * *

Reza was still scratching his head when the taxi drew to a halt on the edge of an old hill town and the driver turfed them out onto a cobbled street lined with a handful of young plane trees. Whoever had built this place didn’t seem to care that it was basically the side of a mountain. A confusing jumble of villas, stone walls and terraced gardens tumbled down the hill with barely another road in sight. To Reza’s chagrin, they seemed to be hundreds of metres above sea level. Far below, terracotta roofs glowed in the sun where the mountains plunged down into the sea… a sea so blue it was dazzling. Reza leant on the railings for a moment, staring out at the view. The air was so clear that Reza felt as if he should be able to reach out and touch the water, but at the same time it felt impossibly far away.

Mum said something to him. Reza turned to look back at her as it sunk in.

“What do you mean, we have to walk from here?” he protested.

“Poor Reza,” Dad laughed, “having to use his actual legs.”

Mum smiled. “It’s not far. Guido here has given me directions,” she added, gesturing at the driver, who nodded amiably, his shades glinting in the reflected sunlight.

Dad heaved the suitcases out of the boot and handed one to Reza. Automatically, Reza pulled out the handle, ready to move on.

Grazie,” Mum said to the driver, pressing a twenty Euro tip into his palm.

Prego,” the driver acknowledged, saluting with his free hand.

The suitcases rumbled over the uneven cobbles as they turned through a tunnel cut into the hillside. Reza frowned as he noticed that the ceiling was hung with old-fashioned lanterns.

Who puts fancy lamps in a road tunnel?

But he didn’t have long to think about it, because they had soon emerged into yet another completely new environment.

It was a large, stone-paved square, dominated on one side by a big old cathedral – or, at least, that was what Reza took it to be. It was much plainer than the churches he was used to at home, but it stood proudly at the top of a flight of grand stone steps, and there was something about the way the whitewashed façade rose in the middle, splitting the building into three bays, that spoke of the building’s function.

To either side, elegantly scruffy old buildings with balconies and colourful window boxes housed an eclectic array of shops and bars. The evening sun shone down on arrays of outside tables where people sat drinking beers, mineral water and coffees, chatting cheerfully. Everywhere he could see, it was just people. There were no cars in sight.

But that wasn’t all. Reza stared across to the far side of the square, where eight more of those tall, sculptural umbrella pines framed a view across a deep mountain valley. The sun was already dipping towards the rocky ridge on the far side. Below the ridge, a network of loosely connected hamlets sprawled over a slope that had been steeply terraced and cultivated, creating stripes of green, brown and silver amongst the lengthening shadows. Over the chink of cups and the babble of conversation, a raucous scraping filled the air, drifting down from the surrounding cypress and lime trees.

Chaka-chaka-chaka.

It was all too strange.

“What is that sound?” Reza demanded. “Like… crickets on steroids, or something.”

“That’s the cicadas, sweetie,” Mum replied.

Reza cringed. “Uhh… don’t call me that, Mum.”

Mum smiled mercilessly. “Sorry, sweetie, but I can call you what I like. Mum’s privilege.”

At least none of my mates are here to see this, Reza thought, eyes flicking suspiciously from side to side as if they might spontaneously melt out of the stonework at any moment.

Dad laughed. “So, where’s this hotel, Helen?”

“Of course,” Mum said lightly. “This way.”

Reza swept his soft black hair back into place and followed his parents into a small side street lined with gift shops. Baskets of colourful ceramics cascaded out of the open doorways, decorated in vivid shades of yellow, orange and blue with patterns of lemons, grapes and flowers. The suitcases rumbled over the uneven paving stones as they turned a corner onto a quiet back street and, before he knew it, they were at the gates of the hotel.

Mum had been right when she said it wasn’t far. The entrance was via a rustic pergola draped with a dense carpet of wisteria vines, which cast an inviting, green-tinged shade over everything. They wheeled through the leafy tunnel to a pretty garden area surrounding a traditional-looking white-painted building with terracotta roof tiles. An array of balconies jutted out towards the nearby square. Reza was dimly aware of the sound of running water and voices drifting up from what sounded like a swimming pool on the lower level.

They stepped into a cool, air-conditioned foyer with a ceramic tiled floor decorated with large pot plants and comfortable-looking chairs. They had to wait for a while, then, as there was a large family group checking in ahead of them. Reza observed them casually, getting a measure of their new neighbours for the week.

The mother and father were conversing with the receptionist in English but, from their accents, they sounded German. They had no less than three grown-up children with them, the youngest of whom was a boy of about sixteen. He had glossy, mid-blond hair and intense, baby-blue eyes. As Reza watched, he glanced back, a faint smile playing about his lips.

Reza nodded briefly at the German boy before moving on. He was naturally more interested in the boy’s two older sisters. Reza estimated them to be aged about seventeen and nineteen. They were both tall, and they looked to be in great shape, as if they’d be right at home on a volleyball court. The younger girl had soft blond hair like her brother, while the older girl’s long, silky hair was more of a mid-brown, albeit with carefully added golden highlights. While the boy was dressed casually in a polo shirt, baggy shorts and flip-flops, his sisters were dressed in a much more revealing style, both wearing light crop tops and very short shorts. The two of them were chatting enthusiastically, apparently excited to be here.

Suddenly, Reza felt more excited to be here, too.

Down, boy.

He should probably be thinking of Tania right now. After all, they were supposed to be checking in, not checking out the talent.

Yeah, but I’m sixteen. Can I help it if I’m always horny?

He supposed he would be seeing them again by the poolside soon enough. Or, at least, he hoped he would. Didn’t German tourists have a reputation for being relentless sun-worshippers?

He thought perhaps they did.

* * *

Mum and Dad had forked out for two superior double rooms. They turned out to be on different floors of the hotel, but that was just fine by Reza. Supposedly they both had poolside views: thinking of the German sisters, he decided that was just fine by him, too.

Reza’s room was on the same floor as the foyer. He stepped through the door into a wonderfully cool, air-conditioned gloom. On the far side of the room, a set of full-height shutter doors protected the room, the slats drawn tight against the reflected heat of the evening sun.

He put down his suitcase and rucksack and flung the doors open. Stepping out onto a small balcony, he was confronted by a commanding view down over the bright blue hotel pool. Set in a recessed area surrounded by trees and creeper-covered walls, it looked like a real sun trap, surrounded by sun loungers with a floor of warm-looking terracotta tiles. The water rippled gently in the evening sun, casting a shimmering shadow on the pool floor.

From where Reza was standing, he could also see across into the cathedral square, which rose above the pool area atop a high stone retaining wall, surrounded by those tall pine trees; the sound of conversation and general merriment drifted over among the scraping of the cicadas in the pines. Then there was that majestic valley again, sweeping all the way across his view to the left.

Reza retreated to the cool shade of his room and flung himself backwards onto his bed, arms and legs spread like a star.

Yeah… if he had to be stuck anywhere for a week, he supposed this would do.

* * *

A few minutes later, the phone next to Reza’s bed rang. He rolled over onto his belly and scrambled towards it.

“Hello?” he asked.

Dad’s voice answered. “Everything okay with your room, Reza?”

“Yeah, thanks. It’s fine.”

“Helen’s keen to soak up the atmosphere for a bit before we look for dinner, so we thought we’d go for a drink in that square we saw. Will you meet us in the foyer?”

Reza sighed a little…

Can’t a guy get even a little time to himself?

…but he had to admit he was curious to see more.

“Okay, sure. I’ll just be a minute.”

Returning the phone to its cradle, Reza shrugged off the sweat-soiled t-shirt he had travelled in and broke into his suitcase. A few moments later, he was dressed in a fresh shirt – a fashionable number in peach, with a broad floral design embossed into the fabric itself – backed up by a generous spray of Lynx deodorant. Having decided to stick with his skinny jeans, he put his smart white trainers back on and left to meet his parents, making sure – of course – that he still had his Nokia in his pocket.

They returned to the cathedral square together. The sun had finally dipped behind the mountains on the far side of the valley, robbing the day of the baleful heat Reza had felt as they stepped off the aeroplane, but it was still extremely warm. A cold soft drink began to seem like a very appealing prospect.

There seemed to be four or five bars operating around the square, each with its own area of outside seating. Reza and his parents made their way to one at the outer corner that still had several tables free. They sank down onto the cushioned metal chairs and pulled them in under the table. Dad let out a grateful sigh as he sat.

“We finally made it,” he breathed.

It wasn’t long before a waiter came over to take their order. Mum ordered a glass of wine. Neither Reza nor his father drank alcohol, but soon Reza was equipped with a tall glass of iced Sprite, while Dad accepted a freshly squeezed orange juice.

This is the chilled-out café culture I was talking about, Reza,” Mum said, sipping her drink gratefully.

From where Reza was sitting, he had a good view out over the square, where lots of other people were also turning out for the evening. A few of them hung out by the railings under the pine trees, admiring the view. Others wandered in and out of the narrow streets that came and went from the corners of the square. A few children played enthusiastically in the middle of the space. Overall, it didn’t look like a very big town, or somewhere that had all that much going on.

“Is this it, though?” he asked. “I mean, what do people do for fun around here?”

“People-watching over a relaxing drink is fun, if you’re open to it,” Dad replied. “As I understand it, it’s a different pace of life in these parts. You just have to, sort of… go with the flow.” He paused for a moment, looking around the square with a faint frown knotting his brow. “Although, I have to say, I don’t see many brown or black faces here.”

Mum took his hand with a sympathetic smile. “Don’t you think Reza fits right in, though?”

Dad looked at him thoughtfully. “It’s true,” he said. “You could almost pass for an Italian. It seems you got the best of both of us, son.”

Reza rolled his eyes and turned his attention to his phone while his parents continued to chat.

At a bar now,’ he texted Tania. ‘Chillin out in the square. Place seems nice, I guess. Reckon I’m going to be well bored, though.

‘wish u were here. xoxoxo’ came the reply.

Reza glanced up again at the sound of quiet voices. Two local boys were passing. They seemed to be about his own age. One of them had spiky black hair and dark brown eyes. The other had a mop of softer-looking, dark brown hair and, surprisingly, a pair of keen blue eyes peeping out from under his fringe. They were dressed alike, in matching short-sleeved shirts and khaki shorts.

Catching him looking, the two boys stopped for a moment. The spiky-haired boy whispered something into the blue-eyed boy’s ear. The blue-eyed boy snickered slightly, then, with one last glance at Reza, they moved on. He watched them go, nonplussed.

What was THAT all about?

Copyright © 2022 James Carnarvon; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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2 minutes ago, travlbug said:

The name Reza Farzan suggests Middle Eastern ancestry, despite his living in Guildford, and his GCSE exams indicate a British upbringing. 

Yes, Ramin is a British Muslim of Middle Eastern descent. Helen is English. Reza is a mixed-race boy who is not strongly tied to his father’s faith.

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8 hours ago, drpaladin said:

The boys walking by, were they remarking Reza has the same fashion sense as our Daniele?

I can say with confidence that they weren’t thinking about Daniele. 🤔😉

Edited by James Carnarvon
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40 minutes ago, James Carnarvon said:

Yes, Ramin is a British Muslim of Middle Eastern descent. Helen is English. Reza is a mixed-race boy who is not strongly tied to his father’s faith.

Reza is a Persian name so I'm guessing his dad or grandparents were Iranian.

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1 hour ago, James Carnarvon said:

I’m surprised nobody has pointed out the obvious yet in relation to the ‘two local boys’ encountered at the end of this chapter.

Never mind, I’ll just check my Nokia. 😅

I pretty sure that @drpaladin and I have some ideas on the local boys, especially after your hint James. I did go back to read their description after the good doctor's comment.  I'm in total agreement. 🤔:yes:

12 hours ago, drpaladin said:

The boys walking by, were they remarking Reza has the same fashion sense as our Daniele?

4 hours ago, James Carnarvon said:

I can say with confidence that they weren’t thinking about Daniele. 🤔😉

:gikkle:

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On 7/16/2022 at 11:46 PM, James Carnarvon said:

Umm, hi again everyone...

So, this is my attempt at a comedy. It may not be quite my genre. 😅

I have speed written this in under two weeks so I can share it with you before I get away for my own bella vacanza. I hope you enjoy it!

There will be daily updates so the story unfolds in real-time.

Now that the book is complete I think you should have no doubts about comedy.  I suspect many readers have been smiling or chuckling throughout the story.   It has been a fun and funny read.  Thank you.  

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Intriguing start to the story. 
 

Im here since the story was September’s CSR story. The thing is, who is Daniela? Is this a character from another @James Carnarvonstory :unsure2:

Im so confused, but shall read on. 

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