The Princesses and the Pea

The sun is no longer the hot buttered pancake worshipped by the ancient Slavs: It has been reformed into an altogether more Christian, Lenten, and distant figure. The sea is still beautiful, though it too no longer moves with the same pagan frankness, its orgiastic, by turns manic and depressive, barometrically motivated summer feasts and famines having given way to that reflective coherence of cloistered life which a weekend visitor, who has not personally witnessed the seasonal conversion, is likely to misconstrue as stormy gloom. Wherever you look, royal aquamarines and emeralds in the Argentario's crown are being switched for Siberian jaspers and beryls, and despite the cheering news that the substitution cuts down the cost of being embosomed in some of the most expensive nature on the Tyrrhenian coast, all the terraces are now emptying, Filipino maids are handing in the keys, and even I am making inquiries about where to go next.

Franco is working on it with all the aplomb of "Ci penso io!" for which the Italian service sector is justly famous. This is a combination of "I'll see to it, just leave it to me, I have your interests in mind, everything will be taken care of, we understand each other, I know just what you're looking for, don't you worry about anything, I've got a friend, he has a cousin, they have an uncle" with the underlying sense of "And if in the end I should...

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