10 Things That Make Me Happy


Earlier this summer the lovely Leanne over at From Australia to Italy gave me this fun Sweet Friends blog award. Grazie, Leanne!! According to the rules of this blog award, I must list 10 things that make me happy and pass on the award to 5 others. Can do, Leanne!  Here we go … in no particular order and deliberately not thinking too hard …

10 Things That Make Me Happy

#1 – Raspberries. Yes, exactly like that opening scene of Amélie.

#2 – Fats Waller singing just about anything. This will do:

#3 – A beautiful morning on the Amalfi Coast. Sigh…

#4 – The art of Henri Matisse.

#5 – Avocados. Especially when my friend Emily makes guacamole.

#6 – Puffy. Otherwise known as “Poof-man,” “Squeaky” or “The Pooks.” 

#7 – The sound of little pebbles washing back and forth in the sea.

#8 – The smell of sheets that have been dried in the sun.

#9 – Fred Astaire films.

(Did you know he actually was from Omaha, Nebraska? I am strictly from corn, too.)

#10 – The samba music of Vinicius de Moraes.




Now that I have your toes tapping and made you hungry for guacamole, here are the five blogs I would like to share this award with. You all make me happy, too!

#1 – Anne from Anne in Oxfordshire

#2 – Lisa from Wanderlust Women’s Travel Dreams

#3 – Carol & Bill from Our Year in Italy

#4 – Katie from Olio di Olive e Sogni di Vino

#5 – Linda from News From Italy

Photo Friday: A Room With a View

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Puffy in Window


The other morning I didn’t see Puffy as he snuck out of the kitchen while I was cleaning up after breakfast. Instead of finding him in his usual window in the  living room, I found him instead squeezed onto a much smaller windowsill in a nice sunny spot. Smart cat! It’s been a wild couple of weeks for Puffy as he took his first trip in the car and made it through all the twists and turns of the Amalfi Coast road to the vet’s office in Minori. His eyes were understandably wide, but he didn’t protest once. That is, until he met the vet!  He was a trooper for the neutering surgery and recovery. I think he’s actually been enjoying the extra attention, and he’s now back to his sweet, affectionate self. I thought he needed a little extra love on the blog this week after his recent adventures!

Happy weekend to everyone!

Favorite Italian Films: L’Ultimo Bacio

I’m happy so many readers enjoyed the first installment in my Favorite Italian Films series last week with Lisa Fantino’s review of Under the Tuscan Sun. That’s one of my favorites! This week Katie Greenaway from Olio di Oliva e Sogni di Vino is here to tell us about one of her favorite films in Italian – L’Ultimo Bacio. (By the way, have you checked out Katie’s beautiful new blog design? Head on over there!) Thanks, Katie, for adding a new film to my must see list!

Welcome, Katie!


Ultimo Bacio Movie Poster

One of the first Italian movies I ever saw, “L’Ultimo Bacio” (The Last Kiss) was truly a blast into the Italian language.  The story of Carlo and Giulia starts off full of love and energy.  Giulia announces to her family that she is pregnant and the wheels in Carlo’s head start to run wild.  Suddenkly, he feels his life is being controlled by this commitment and this baby.  He starts to second guess his relationship and even buying a house with Giulia.  His friends start to paint him a picture of what his life will be like after the baby is born.  Adriano, with a baby boy already, scares Carlo white with all that he is dealing with his wife and baby.  Paolo is in the middle of a breakup and can’t seem to move on from it.  He tries to convince all his friends to run away from Italy to a distant land.  Alberto is the free spirit of the group and is enjoying sleeping with anything that moves. 

Following all different story lines you’ll see a common theme.  What if I chose a different path?  Each character is in a crises and they try to go down a different path.  What if I was never with her? What if I never stayed with him this long? What if I just leave this place, will things be much better?  Why does my life seem to be over now that she is pregnant? I’m too young to be a father.  I don’t want to be a father anymore. Although this movie depicts mostly the male’s point of view, I am sure there are plenty of women that have similar emotions brewing on the subject of babies and marriage.  I feel that the men in this movie bring a true viewpoint of what men go through when confronted with these issues and questions about love, family and commitment. 

The performances by the main characters made me love this movie even more.  When Giulia, played by Giovanna Mezzogiorno, yells and screams at Carlo, played by Stefano Accorsi, with a knife in her hand, it gave me chills.  I believed her 110%.  You can feel the flames shooting out her eyes with fury.  Even I was afraid of her!

I love this movie because it shows real situations in real relationships with real issues.  Each relationship is examined and some are resolved, some are not.  However, I won’t spoil the movie for you!


Katie Greenaway is a freelance travel writer and is the Local Expert of Florence for Nile Guide where she also provides the secrets of Florence on her blog.  She writes about her life in Florence on her personal blog Olio di Oliva e Sogni di Vino and contributes to MNUI Travel Insurance with travel articles.

Atrani Flood – 9 September 2010

By now many of you have already heard on the news or online about the devastating flood in Atrani last Thursday. It has been a somber four days on the Amalfi Coast as the little towns and villages work together to help Atrani begin to recover and to continue the search for Francesca Mansi, the 25 year old girl from Minori who was working at Atrani’s Bar Risacca when the sudden flood swept through the town’s piazza Thursday evening. Massive rains on Thursday caused the Dragone river, which runs from the Lattari Mountains down the valley between Scala and Ravello, to overflow in Atrani. The river runs under the main road of Atrani and out to the sea. During the storm the river broke through the road and caused a powerful flow of water and mud to fill the main road, washing cars, scooters and debris into the main piazza and to the beach. If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the video footage filmed during the flood.



I was in Atrani Friday morning, as the town had the first glimpse in daylight of the extent of the damage. In the face of such tragedy, it has been difficult to know what to say here on Ciao Amalfi!. Perhaps there are no right words in such a situation. I have received many messages asking about the town and what has happened there from people who love Atrani and who have homes there, too. I think the pictures I took Friday morning speak for themselves about what the town of Atrani is going through.


(Click through to see the images larger and with captions.)

I will post updated information and photos over the coming weeks. You can find daily updates (in Italian only) on the events in Atrani on Positanonews.it. Please keep the people of Atrani, especially the family and friends of Francesca Mansi, in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

Favorite Italian Films: Under the Tuscan Sun

With the Venice Film Festival under way and three big movies out in America – “Letters to Juliet,” “The American” and “Eat Pray Love” – all filmed in Italy, I thought it would be good timing to host a series of guest posts on Favorite Italian Films. I’ll be weighing in on some of my favorite flicks filmed right here on the Amalfi Coast as well. Kicking off the series is Lisa Fantino from Wanderlust Women writing about “Under the Tuscan Sun,” one of the all time great movies filmed in Tuscany … and the Amalfi Coast!

Welcome, Lisa!



I first visited Tuscany in the shadow of “Frances Mayes Mania.” Her 1996 book, “Under the Tuscan Sun,” was bringing throngs of tourists by plane, train and automobile to the picturesque villages of Montepulciano and Cortona and the beaches of La Maremma. It seemed I was the only woman I knew who had not read her account of finding herself in Italy. I must say it was my last “group” tour. Hahahaha!

However, I also became enchanted by the land of golden hues and honey-colored sunsets, where the hills carry the perpetual scent of jasmine and the rustled brush of cinghialle (Tuscan wild boar). It is a land unlike any other. So, when the film based on Mayes’ book was released in 2003, I was one of the first to see it. I ran to the theater expecting to reminisce about my stay in La Toscana, about the quiet hillside for writing, about the beach which baked me in its warmth. Instead, I began a love affair with the Amalfi Coast, a geographic 180…..oh yeah, and Raoul Bova. (He is my celebrity boyfriend but don’t tell Clooney!)

The film stars Diane Lane as Mayes’ character, venturing to Italy on a pre-booked gay tour following a bad divorce. Right off I figured this would be campy and corny or entertaining. It was the latter, thank god. Lane’s character throws herself into renovating an ancient farmhouse. She is a hands-on homeowner and not a weekend warrior, so when she needs a chandelier, she ventures to Rome and happens into the arms of the gorgeous Bova, who immediately whisks her away to Positano.

By now I am sure you are thinking this can only happen in the movies and if you had only visited Tuscany then I would have to agree with you, having not been “hit on” once during my stay. I thought the Tuscan men were playing for the other team……..ahhhhh, but travel to Lazio and Campania and that’s where things get interesting very quickly. Men in the south are a lot more “approachable” for want of a better word. They don’t mind being approached and will readily approach you, so the happenstance between Lane and Bova’s characters is quite natural and just flows, as does the rest of the film.

The Tuscan hills and the Amalfi Coast, as well as the energy of Rome, all contribute to the plot as much as the storyline. It’s a film that highlights the warmth and passion of the Italian people, no matter whether from the north or the south, and it makes you feel good wherever you are in your life. I stopped counting how many times I’ve seen it after twelve.


Lisa Fantino is an award-winning journalist and attorney. She is the creative force and Italy travel consultant for Wanderlust Women Travel and the Amalfi Coast destination wedding site Wanderlust Weddings. She recently launched Amalfi Blu, gifts and jewelry inspired by the beauty of the Amalfi Coast. In her spare time, she also writes travel features for MNUI Travel Insurance and blogs as Lady Litigator.