Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
Villa Cesarini. House in Albano, not far from Lake Nemi, at which Giorgio and Ippolita stay while on their first excursion. Their mail catches up with them there, bringing them news from other places, renewing their restlessness and drawing them back to Rome.
*Guardiagrele (gwahr-dyah-GRAY-lay). Town in Chieti Province in which Giorgio was born and where various members of his divided family still live. He returns there in response to a call of duty, while Ippolita visits her own family in Milan. Guardiagrele lies on the lower slopes of the Majella mountain, overlooking the valley of the river Foro. The cold remoteness of the surrounding peaks underscores Giorgio’s alienation from various members of his family and the world.
Hermitage. House at San Vito on Italy’s Adriatic coastline, situated on a plateau that rises precipitately above the sea. Vasto Point, Mount Gargano, and the Treniti Islands are visible in one direction, Cape Moro and Cape Ortona in the other. Giorgio rents the house in order to begin a “new life” with Ippolita. When the life in question proves unsatisfactory, the promontory that extends from the plateau provides the launching pad from which Giorgio and Ippolita leap to their deaths.
The changing aspects of the distant city of Ortona–brilliantly white at first, but bathed, when the lovers look in that direction for the last time, in the gaudily problematic light of a fireworks display–mirror some of the extremes of Giorgio’s moods. The Hermitage does provide a temporary haven from the lovers’ existential malaise, but they find it hard to accommodate themselves to local ways. Giorgio becomes briefly fascinated with the local fishermen of the Trabocco and allows himself to be lulled into a stupor by the stifling warmth of the climate, but the respite thus gained cannot last. The addition of a piano to the house’s sparse facilities provides a further measure of relief, but the echoes of Richard Wagner’s music that it enables the lovers to conjure up only serve to feed Giorgio’s malaise.
*Castalbordino. Site of a shrine in the province of L’Aquila at which the Virgin Mary is supposed to have appeared in 1527. When Giorgio and Ippolita visit in the course of an excursion from the Hermitage, they discover a vast crowd in which the maimed, the mad, and the miserable jostle one another, competing for space with animalistic fervor as they implore the Virgin Mary (the Madonna) to grant them release from their suffering. This spectacle raises Giorgio’s distaste for the world and its ways to a new intensity.