Amalfi glows in the evening light. This is true all year long, but it’s especially so during the golden hour just before sunset in the winter. Looking east, the cascade of buildings above the Hotel Luna watchtower take on a gorgeous hue. If I could paint, I would sit up here in the evenings and paint the view just to feel a little bit more a part of it than taking a photograph. The beach is empty except a few people drawn to take a closer look at the irresistible scene. Not far from the edge of the sea, rows of fishing boats take a rest pulled up on the beach while waiting for a new coat of paint in the spring. They look like they’ve had a busy season and need a break, but before long the stones will be dotted with drops of paint and the boats will be gone, back to work for another year.
I do so love the rows of brightly colored sun umbrellas during the summer months that look like candies scattered across the beach. Yet there’s something I love even more about the beach in the winter. It’s so quiet and beckons to be devoured in a slow and lingering way, like following the long shadow of a lone beach walker crunching along the pebbles near the water’s edge. While the summer beach scene in Amalfi clamors for your attention with a riot of colors, people of all shapes and sizes and waves crashing to the sounds of kids playing, the winter scene simply waits. You can stop and look if you’d like, but it’s not going flail about in the water or hit you in the head accidentally with a beach ball. Its indifference makes it even more alluring. If you stop and look, there are moments to witness that you’ll never forget.
Meanwhile, in Piazza Duomo, the mosaics designed by Neapolitan artist Domenico Morelli on the facade of the Cathedral of Sant’Andrea begin to glow in the evening light. I sometimes wonder if Morelli sat in the piazza while working on his designs. He would have been in his late 60s when the new facade of the Duomo was completed in 1891. I also wonder when I look at at the Apostles and scene in the tympanum if he got to see the way the sunset made his designs glimmer. The scene at the top depicts the Triumph of Christ, and it surely is a triumph.
While life is busy all year round, there’s something a little easier about slowing down in the winter to notice details, to wonder and to really get to know a place – on its own terms and without the distractions. But those distractions of the busy beaches, relaxing in the warm sun, watching new faces light up when they see the Duomo of Amalfi for the first time, sitting on the steps of the church enjoying a gelato, hopping on a ferry to Positano or Capri, these are just as much part of Amalfi that I miss during the winter months.
Getting to know Amalfi over the years has been like watching the change of seasons. There’s beauty in every season – even the frigid days of winter and the long, hot days of summer. During the winter we miss the warmth and the joy of diving into the clear blue sea and during the summer we miss these quiet, intensely beautiful winter days. Taking photographs is a mindfulness practice for me since it makes me stop and notice little moments like the ones I’ve shared here today.
How do you capture or enjoy beautiful moments in your life?