Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Giornale Adriatico-Mediterraneo: Porto Ercole

photograph by Hallie Cohen
Porto Ercole is one of the resorts you reach when you pass through Tuscany on the way to the Mediterranean or Tyrrhenean Sea as its called at this latitude. It’s a sleepy little resort, with small yachts and boats moored in its harbor. Porto Ercole lacks the glamour of Portofino and other getaways on the Italian Riviera. It’s not the kind of place where myths are made. There’s an old expression. “They’re not doing it to you. They’re just doing it.” Caravaggio died in the seaside town of Porto Ercole in 1610. After the brawl in which he killed Ranuccio Tomassoni he’d been forced to leave Rome for Naples, but he received a pardon and was on his way home. “Not with a bang, but a whimper,” to quote Eliot. Porto Ercole is also around the corner from the Isola del Giglio, where in 2012 the captain of the cruise ship Costa Concordia carrying 4252 passengers made a fatal deviation from his course and crashed his ship into a reef resulting in the death of 32 people. Porto Ercole is the kind of place where life goes on and people make little mistakes that sometimes have larger consequences. The hotels along the mountainside leading to the shore look like they’ve seen better days. Yet there's something unique about the town’s failure to distinguish itself beyond coming in the way of accidents looking for a place to happen. Because of the internet, there's a ubiquitousness to sophistication. Little bohemias abound. However, Porto Ercole is free from the burden of its own history. It’s a relief to find an enclave where the inhabitants are not legends in their own minds. Not acquiescence, but a certain acceptance makes Porto Ercole the perfect place to end a journey from the Adriatic. No one recognized Odysseus when he returned to Ithaca, except for his dog, Argos. You will remain mercifully unconnected when you roll into Porto Ercole.

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