About Laura Thayer

Writing, photography & tales from daily life on Italy’s Amalfi Coast, through the eyes of an American writer and art historian. Currently co-writing a novel with my mother, Sandra Thayer, set on the Amalfi Coast.

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I invite you to explore the pages of Ciao Amalfi to enjoy the beauty, history and traditions of the Amalfi Coast. Can't get enough of the Amalfi Coast? Me either! You can find Ciao Amalfi on Facebook and follow me on Twitter, too. Please email me directly for writing requests or just to say "Ciao!" While I love hearing from readers, please keep in mind that I may not be able to respond to all requests for information or travel planning help for the Amalfi Coast. Explore the archives of Ciao Amalfi for more travel tips and inspiration!
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Easter Weekend Errands

Amalfi Coast Travel Rainy View

Not a bad view!

This morning we set out early to do some shopping for Easter lunch before the shops got too crowded. As Easter is really the kick off to the tourist season on the Amalfi Coast, we also hopped to beat some of the traffic. We got through the shopping at the fruit and vegetable shop (line not too bad), the butcher (line much longer) and even scored a small pastiera without too much of a wait at all. We whizzed past the traffic that was totally blocked coming into Amalfi (cringing because we knew we’d have to come back that way since there is only one road …) and decided to stop by the mechanic in Conca dei Marini to have him look at the tires on the car. Big heavy clouds loomed over the mountain, but the view toward Praiano with the Li Galli islands off the coast was still a lovely sight while we waited.

Amalfi Coast Travel Rainstorm

It’s going to rain!

After awhile the sky darkened and I watched as a rainstorm swept quickly across the sea toward the coastline. Just before the rain arrived there were several young tourists that passed by with a map looking rather confused and in search of a hiking path in the mountains high above. I poked my husband outside to help them, but there was really no convincing them otherwise, so he eventually just pointed them in the right direction. One wouldn’t really call this a good day for hiking, yet there were a lot of people out doing just that. At least the hiking group below were mostly fitted out for the rain, although their boots were sounding a bit squishy as they trudged past. They looked happy though!

Amalfi Coast Travel Easter Weather

It’s a long way to Tipperary, er, Positano in the rain!

On the way back to Amalfi we did get stuck in that traffic, and it was getting later and later by the moment and our stomachs were rumbling. I rustled through the shopping in the back seat of the car and pulled out the small casatiello, a rich bread made for Easter in the Naples area, and tore off a chunk for each of us while we waited. I suggested some sopressata and my husband dug out a knife he keeps in the car for emergencies. You know, emergencies like pre-Easter picnics in the car while stuck in traffic in Amalfi. One must always be prepared. It was hilarious and delicious at the same time. So, the shopping for Easter is done and there’s still a little sopressata left for tomorrow. Buona Pasqua a tutti!

Foto Friday: Love Me Tender

Amalfi Coast Travel Positano Photography

A sweet little boat in Positano

When I’m in Positano there’s always one person I miss – my mom. I’ll never forget that February day back in 2007 when we first walked on the beach together, picking up sea glass and pebbles and alternating between smiling and crying from happiness. This photo is dedicated to my mom, Sandra Thayer, who taught me to love so many beautiful things in life. For, my darling, I love you and I always will!

Glorious April Weather

Amalfi Coast Travel Glorious April Weather

Beautiful blues on the Amalfi Coast

Leave me alone with a view like that and some sort of photographic device and you can bet that I’ll try to capture it in some way. That’s what I did with my several year old simple Samsung phone this morning when looking out at the blue sky and sea. What a glorious spring day!

Amalfi Coast Travel April Blue Skies Ravello

Blossoms on the trees

It’s just so beautiful today that I had to try to take a few photos to share! In the sunshine it looked like they hadn’t come out at all, so imagine my surprise when I downloaded them and found these. And they don’t even begin to show what a beautiful day it really is!

Amalfi Coast Travel Villa Cimbrone Ravello

The picture perfect day to visit Villa Cimbrone in Ravello

That being said, it’s supposed to rain tomorrow. Welcome, spring!

Foto Friday: The Duomo in My Dreams

Ciao Amalfi Coast Travel Cathedral of Amalfi

Not a dream at all …

I woke up this morning just after sunrise but before the alarm beeped the beginning of a new day. I’m a morning person, even on the mornings when my body feels like starting a little bit slower. Even before I had moved, my brain was fighting its way through the fog of sleep and when I woke up it was full of words. It was crafting a piece on the Duomo of Amalfi that I hope to share soon on Ciao Amalfi. I jumped out of bed, hurried to my desk and began scribbling on all the little scraps of paper I could find to get it all down. When I finished the 7am church bells rang. I wonder just what had I been dreaming about?

Recipe | End of Winter Zucca

Recipe for Zucca

A simply winter side dish – pumpkin!

It’s hard not to look forward to spring on April days when the sky is brilliant blue and the first blossoms are popping out on the trees. But the other evening as the wind howled down from the mountains and I stood in the kitchen chopping zucca, or pumpkin, I had that cozy feeling of being at home that comes with the winter months. I started chatting with my husband across the house about this winter and the things we enjoyed about that time of year. It was like a farewell.

And before too long we’ll be saying goodbye to the zucca in the markets as well. This is a winter staple that I look forward to each year as autumn comes. I just love going to the local fruttivendolo and spying the deep orange hues of a zucca, often tucked away behind the counter with a big knife nearby to cut off a hunk for anyone who asks. It’s hard for me to resist.

As it’s almost the end of the season, my husband brought home a big piece of zucca yesterday. We weren’t in the mood for pasta, which is excellent with zucca, so I cooked it the very simple and traditional way here on the Amalfi Coast. That means with aglio, olio, peperoncino and a bit of prezzemolo (garlic, oil, red pepper and parsley).

Let’s use the word “recipe” a bit loosely here, which is much the way I’ve learned to cook Italian food and indeed to fall in love with cooking after moving to the Amalfi Coast. Many of the dishes I make now I first learned while sitting in the kitchen with my husband’s family. Even in the first years when I understood very little Italian, I could still connect over cooking as I watched attentively and recreated dishes at home. Or many times my husband would call one of his sisters for a recipe and I’d overhear over the phone a few tips and directions and then have a go at it myself. So just consider this recipe like that phone call with a friend, jot down a few notes and get in there in the kitchen with some zucca of your own. It’s simple. I promise!

 

Recipe for Zucca

Ingredients
A big chunk of pumpkin (butternut or acorn squash works well, too!)
Extra virgin olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, cut in half or smashed lightly
A generous pinch of salt (depending on taste and the size of the hunk o’ pumpkin)
Peperoncino (red pepper flakes)
A handful of parsley, roughly chopped or left whole

Steps

(1) Cut up pumpkin or squash into small pieces, about a quarter inch. The rind can be quite hard, so get yourself a big knife and be careful. I cut the zucca into about 1-2″ slices and then cut the rind off.

(2) Drizzle some oil in a large pot or deep pan and drop in the garlic. Cook over low heat until it begins to warm and sizzle, turning once or twice and pressing it into the oil to really release the flavor. You can remove the garlic now if you don’t want to try to fish it out of the pot later. I usually forget and pick it out later. See, easy going.

(3) Add the chopped pumpkin and stir well to coat in oil. Add a pinch of salt while stirring. Start with a small amount if you want to avoid over salting. If you want a bit of a kick, add some peperoncino at this step. We usually cook without it, but it is lovely in this dish.

(4) Turn the heat up to medium and cook until the pumpkin is soft. This can take anywhere from 15-35 minutes depending on the type of pumpkin. Or, if you’re like me and look at the clock 40 minutes before dinner and still have to chop that pumpkin, cover the pot with a lid and it will cook faster.

(5) When the pumpkin is cooked, test for salt and add the fresh parsley.

At this point you have a lovely contorno, or side dish, a light meal or you can add some water and partially cooked pasta and finish cooking the pasta with the pumpkin for pasta e zucca. Or you can add beans for zucca e fagioli. All very delicious and simple!