It 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.
Michelle | Bleeding Espresso says
Just beautiful, Laura; I love those kind of moments, and I *really* love that blogs exist that allow us to record them and return to them forever 🙂 xx
Thank you, Michelle! Your blog was really the one that inspired me to go public with Ciao Amalfi back in 2009. I do know just what you mean, and I treasure the memories and the friends that I’ve made along the way! 🙂
Lisa at Wanderlust Women says
Si – si e si!
Concordo a tutti 🙂
Grazie Lisa! 🙂
Such a well written message and beautiful sentiment. Thanks for sharing your passion for the Amalfi Coast through everyday life. You express your thoughts and feelings so well. Very touching article!
Thank you, Mom! 🙂
Kimberly Mozzetti says
I love this entry! It’s funny because in all my years (45 of them now) I have never been home, except for the 2 that I lived in Sicily. I know I can find home again in Italy soon, even though everyone here (my Italian friends included) tell me not to go. Home, for me, is people and not necessarily my abode. Italians are the friendliest people I have ever met. I can’t wait to come home!
Ciao Kimberly! Thank you for your lovely comment. I think you’re right that the people are so much a part of what we feel as home … and ultimately you’ll follow your heart back to home! 🙂
What a lovely post! Thank you.
So happy you enjoyed it, Sheila!
Well said! I share your feeling wholeheartedly!
Thank you, Saretta! 🙂
How wonderful that you have “found” your “home”.. a beautiful message to us all 🙂
Ciao Anne! It’s really a tremedous feeling for me, and I’m so happy that you enjoyed reading about it! 🙂
What a lovely post about what home means and getting to feel at home in a new country. If “home is where the heart is”, I’m with you, home is most definitely on the Amalfi Coast.
Ciao Dee! I thought about that saying many times while I was writing this … and I think it’s so true. 🙂
LindyLouMac in Italy says
A beautifully expressed post Laura xx
Thank you so much, Linda! 🙂
Jenni Bennett says
Such a beautifully written post! I was in Amalfi in May and I couldn’t be more thrilled with my photos from such a gorgeous location. My favorite part of the day trip was making homemade paper with that husband and wife team at their shop (past the city center, up the hill on the left). What an amazing experience!
Ciao Jenni! Thank you for your sweet comment and for sharing your travel experiences on the Amalfi Coast. Sounds like you had a wonderful time! 🙂