Howdy from Nebraska!

From the rainy Amalfi Coast I landed late last week in snowy Nebraska. I did at first feel a bit “walled about with drifts of snow,” and was reminded of Longfellow’s poem about Amalfi. But the wintry white landscape is beautiful and certainly different from what we see on the Amalfi Coast. When it does actually snow, it never sticks around quite like this.


A week before I left it did snow on the Amalfi Coast for the first time this winter. I’ll share the photos and videos of the beautiful nighttime sugar snow on the Amalfi Coast soon. In the meantime, howdy to all of my readers from Nebraska!

Amalfi, 18 February 1875

 

Amalfi

 

One hundred and thirty-five years ago today, the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807- 1882) wrote a poem reminiscing about the beauty of Amalfi. I’ve shared bits and pieces of the poem here on Ciao Amalfi, but today is the perfect day to share the entire poem.

 

Amalfi

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

Sweet the memory is to me
Of a land beyond the sea,
Where the waves and mountains meet,
Where amid her mulberry-trees
Sits Amalfi in the heat,
Bathing ever her white feet
In the tideless summer seas.

In the middle of the town,
From its fountains in the hills,
Tumbling through the narrow gorge,
The Canneto rushes down,
Turns the great wheels of the mills,
Lifts the hammers of the forge. 
‘Tis a stairway, not a street,
That ascends the deep ravine,
Where the torrent leaps between
Rocky walls that almost meet.

Toiling up from stair to stair
Peasant girls their burdens bear;
Sunburnt daughters of the soil,
Stately figures tall and straight,
What inexorable fate
Dooms them to this life of toil? 

Lord of vineyards and of lands,
Far above the convent stands.
On its terraced walk aloof
Leans a monk with folded hands,
Placid, satisfied, serene,
Looking down upon the scene
Over wall and red-tiled roof;

 

Wondering unto what good end
All this toil and traffic tend,
And why all men cannot be
Free from care and free from pain,
And the sordid love of gain,
And as indolent as he. 

Where are now the freighted barks
From the marts of east and west?
Where the knights in iron sarks
Journeying to the Holy Land,
Glove of steel upon the hand,
Cross of crimson on the breast?

 

Where the pomp of camp and court?
Where the pilgrims with their prayers?
Where the merchants with their wares,
And their gallant brigantines
Sailing safely into port
Chased by corsair Algerines? 

Vanished like a fleet of cloud,
Like a passing trumpet-blast,
Are those splendors of the past,
And the commerce and the crowd!
Fathoms deep beneath the seas
Lie the ancient wharves and quays,

 

Swallowed by the engulfing waves;
Silent streets and vacant halls,
Ruined roofs and towers and walls;
Hidden from all mortal eyes
Deep the sunken city lies:
Even cities have their graves! 

This is an enchanted land!
Round the headlands far away
Sweeps the blue Salernian bay
With its sickle of white sand:
Further still and furthermost
On the dim discovered coast
Paestum with its ruins lies.

And its roses all in bloom
Seem to tinge the fatal skies
Of that lonely land of doom. 

On his terrace, high in air,
Nothing doth the good monk care
For such worldly themes as these,
From the garden just below
Little puffs of perfume blow,
And a sound is in his ears
Of the murmur of the bees
In the shining chestnut trees;

 

Nothing else he heeds or hears.
All the landscape seems to swoon
In the happy afternoon;
Slowly o’er his senses creep
The encroaching waves of sleep,
And he sinks as sank the town,
Unresisting, fathoms down,
Into caverns cool and deep! 

Walled about with drifts of snow,
Hearing the fierce north-wind blow,
Seeing all the landscape white,
And the river cased in ice,
Comes this memory of delight,
Comes this vision unto me
Of a long-lost Paradise
In the land beyond the sea.

 

 

With suitcases packed, I will very soon be reminiscing about Amalfi just like Longfellow as he ended this poem. I do hope not to be “walled about with drifts of snow,” but it is still winter time in Nebraska. I’ll be posting stories, photos and videos from the Amalfi Coast while I am enjoying time with my family in America. After all, like many of you who read Ciao Amalfi, my heart will always remains in this Paradise, in this beautiful “land beyond the sea.”

Buon San Valentino!

 

Heart Leaf

 

On my most recent walk, I happened across this little heart-shaped leaf lying on the stone steps just below Pontone. With San Valentino just around the corner, I just had to snap a picture. Wishing you all a day full of love!

Shhh… the lemons are sleeping

 

As the snow is falling in Rome and much of northern Italy, we woke up to few traces of snow around the garden and white tops on the mountain peaks along the Amalfi Coast. If it had been just a few degrees colder, we would have woken up to discover a winter wonderland outside! 

 

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog sleeping lemons2

 

Last week on a day that it didn’t rain (remarkable!), I went out for a nice walk to enjoy the sun and the blue skies. The ancient stone paths connecting Pontone and Amalfi take you through steeply terraced lemon groves. This time of year you’ll find the lemon trees covered in black mesh covers. I like to think of them as the lemon blankets. It’s as if the lemons have been covered up and are resting during the cold and damp winter months. But one peek underneath and you’ll see that they’re not really sleeping after all. Bright yellow lemons poke out from under the covers here and there, providing a welcome reminder of the warm sun and summer days ahead.

 

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog sleeping lemons1

 

I asked some locals recently about the covers. They are used to protect the leaves and fruit on the tree from the freezing rain that we sometimes get on the Amalfi Coast. But it was also interesting to learn that they are primarily used to protect the roots of the lemon trees. The roots are not very deep, making the trees perfect for growing on the rocky terrain and small terraces on the Amalfi Coast, and they are particularly susceptible to freezing.  So those “blankets” do keep the lemons nice and protected during the winter. Shhh . . . keep on sleeping lemons. The weather this morning was a reminder that it’s not quite time to wake up!

 

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog sleeping lemons3