Photo Friday: Salve

Walking on the Amalfi Coast

I pass this whitewashed entrance to a house on my usual walk, and every time the work “Salve” painted above the doorway catches my eye. This common expression of greeting in Italian simply means “hello,” but I always wonder about it as I pass by. I’ve never seen anyone coming or going, there are never any flowers outside on the stairs and the walls are always perfectly white. Who lives inside this house with such a welcoming expression painted above the doorway? Maybe one of these days I’ll find out as I walk by!

My 7 Links Project on the Amalfi Coast

It’s been quite a busy summer for me, and that means it has been hard to keep up with many of my friends in the blogosphere. I smiled when I saw that Lisa from Wanderlust Women Travel tagged me recently in the My 7 Links Project started by Tripbase. If you haven’t heard about it yet, it’s a fun idea that is pulling together an impressive list of bloggers of all kinds! It was a fun project thinking back over the 2 1/2 years now that I’ve been writing Ciao Amalfi. Here are my 7 Links in the categories selected by Tripbase:

1. Most Beautiful Post

The post that comes to mind immediately is the one that pulls my heart the strongest. If you didn’t catch it last week, I invite you to read about my experiences Finding Home on the Amalfi Coast.

2. Most Popular Post

I don’t keep stats for very long on Ciao Amalfi, but lately the post that’s been getting the most hits has been an oldie on one of my favorite churches in Campania, the Church of Santo Stefano on Capri.

Church of Santo Stefano Capri

Facade of Santo Stefano Church on Capri

3. Most Controversial

I don’t think I actually do controversial, so this is a tough one! I do believe one of the only times I’ve expressed a negative opinion on Ciao Amalfi was back in the spring of 2009 about the New Ticket Booths in Amalfi. For the record, I still don’t like them.

4. Most Helpful

Not long ago I wrote about the Summer Religious Festivals on the Amalfi Coast, which is the first in a serious of posts I have planned about religious festivals, sagre and events on the Amalfi Coast. Stay tuned!

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Festival of Sant'Antonio Statue

Festival of Sant' Antonio in Atrani

5. A Post Whose Success Surprised Me

I didn’t have a clue about the story behind it or the widespread popularity when I wrote about the Love Locks in Salerno back in 2009. I love learning new tidbits about Italian culture!

6. A Post Which Didn’t Get the Attention it Deserved

I can’t get enough of how fabulous it is to finally have transportation here with my new motorino … and recently I took a ride On the Scooter Around Scala.

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Motorino Ravello View

View of Ravello from Scala

7. Post I’m Most Proud Of

Last year I mused about time passing and those little things that you hold on to along the way in my post Every Sunday Evening. I was honoured to win the Blogging from the Boot contest in 2010 for the Buon Viaggio category for this post!

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And now comes the fun part of nominating some of my friends around the blogosphere to take part in the 7 Links Project. Head over and say “ciao” to these lovely ladies!

Anne in Oxfordshire because we both share a love of Paris…

Pat from Sicily Scene for making me smile by leaving such sweet comments on Ciao Amalfi …

Valerie from 2 Baci in a Pinon Tree for always inspiring me …

Annika from dove mi porta il cuore for sharing my love of Amalfi …

Photo Friday: The View from the Top

Church of Santo Stefano Capri

I haven’t been to Capri yet this year, but I’m itching to go! The island is stunning in so many ways, and it’s one of my favorite spots in the area for taking photographs. I took this photo of the dome of the Santo Stefano Church at the end of last summer, and I don’t believe I’ve shared it here yet. I love this church, both inside and out, and I highly recommend stepping away from the chaos of the Piazzetta to see the beautiful interior and explore the quieter streets nearby. I spotted this seagull enjoying the view from the top of the dome, and I wished I could see Capri through his eyes. I hope to get to Capri with the camera again soon!

Finding Home on the Amalfi Coast

Home on the Amalfi CoastIt doesn’t take long to feel at home on the Amalfi Coast. I imagine many travelers experience the same feeling of familiarity and comfort when they first arrive, just as I did in February 2007 when I first visited Amalfi. There’s a warmth, openness and curiosity for foreigners in many of the locals on the Amalfi Coast, which is an undeniable part of that welcoming feeling so many people find here.

Speaking only a few words of Italy, it was certainly very welcome to me when I started spending more time on the Amalfi Coast! With a smile and a few words scribbled down in Italian on a piece of paper, shopping soon became a little less scary as the lady in the shop nicely corrected my pronunciation of “CI-polla” to “ci-POlla” when I needed onions. I didn’t understand anything anyone said to me, but slowly I began to learn a few words.

It was hard, however, not to feel like an outsider when I didn’t know how to do simple things that I’ve never had to put much thought into before, like interpreting the bus schedule or buying herbs at the market. Every expat goes through these feelings, I believe, and I imagine everyone deals with them in different ways as well. I chose to focus on the little victories – the first time I got up the nerve to go into the butcher on my own, the first time I carried out a transaction at the post office in Italian, the first time I felt confident enough to start up a conversation with a stranger, actually being able to figure out that blasted bus schedule. With each success, I felt a little more at home.

I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on that very feeling. What is it that makes a person feel at home? It’s a familiarity that comes only with time, but it’s something much more than simply living in a place for a certain period of time. For me, it has more to do with the way a place resonates within you through its sights, sounds and scents. Whether it’s the “invisible scent of lingering lilacs,” as it was for Proust, or simply the comforting view of the street where you grew up playing and laughing as a child, its those very personal experiences and memories that define home.

But, more than anything, I’m starting to realize that home is where you’re happy. Yesterday evening I was out running some errands on the motorino before coming home. As I was riding along a beautiful road in Ravello overlooking the Amalfi coastline, I saw very clearly how, without even realizing it, my life has become interwoven into the panorama of daily life here. That even though I’m still a foreigner, I have started nevertheless to find my place. I smiled as a swerved around a vigilessa (a local policewoman in charge of traffic and city regulations) who had stopped in the middle of the road to take a picture of a nicely dressed couple with the stunning backdrop of the Amalfi Coast behind them. I smiled and beeped the horn as I passed Gaetano, who sells the sweetest peaches I’ve ever tasted. Around the next corner came a tilting Piaggio Ape, one of those tiny three-wheeled Italian vehicles, loaded at least twice its width and three times its  height with bales of hay. I laughed out load hoping that he would make it to wherever he was going with all that hay.

This is it, I thought. It doesn’t have to be complicated or philosophical or romantic or any of the thoughts that have been going around and around in my mind lately. Although I read Michelle Fabio’s words back in February this year, they suddenly clicked. “It really is the simple, stupid,” I thought. As I parked the motorino and walked down the steps to home, I smiled realizing that I had already found my home on the Amalfi Coast without really even knowing it.

Photo Friday: Sleeping Beach Umbrellas

Umbrellas on the Beach in Amalfi

Last weekend I was sitting down on the beach in Amalfi, and I loved the way the beach umbrellas looked lined up and wrapped tightly for the night. Since I had some time to kill, I entertained myself by experimenting a bit with my camera. I like how this image came out, with the red and white umbrellas against the strangely blue night sky. Wishing everyone a sunny and fun summer weekend!