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An Amalfi Coast Yoga Retreat in Paradise

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Love the Amalfi Coast? Love yoga? If you answered yes to both of those questions, then I’ve got something you’re really going to love. I’ve always known that the Amalfi Coast was a paradise, but I didn’t know just how beautiful it could be when my passion for yoga and for the Amalfi Coast came together. It’s a match made in heaven! That’s how I felt when I joined my friend Shari from Sole Yoga Holidays earlier this summer at her Positano Yoga Retreat. This incredible yoga experience takes place at the eco resort La Selva, set high in the mountains above Positano. I couldn’t imagine a more stunning location for learning more about yoga, making new friends, enjoying fabulous organic meals and, of course, those panoramic views of the Amalfi Coast.

When most people think of Positano, they think of the pastel hued homes spilling down the mountainside to the sea. That certainly is Positano and is a huge part of the experience on this retreat, but what I particularly enjoyed about Sole Yoga Holiday’s choice of La Selva is that is highlights the other side of the Amalfi Coast. That’s the rugged and wild natural beauty that you find in the mountains, an incredible side of Positano that many visitors miss. I love that Shari has designed her Positano retreat to highlight the best of Positano – the quiet beauty, the hidden away beaches and all the fun Positano has to offer.

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It was quite a hike up to La Selva, but while chatting and making new friends it passed in no time. This place blew my mind! Following the pathway up to the main buildings, we passed the glass enclosed yoga studio where we held our morning and evening yoga classes and also a wooden platform where we had an evening meditation session with a view that stretches down the coastline all the way to Capri. The pathway leads eventually to La Selva, where they have rooms and a beautiful terrace where meals were served – with windows flung open to feel even closer to that stunning view.

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I woke up early one morning and crept upstairs with my tripod to capture the morning light, the reflections and view. It’s such a peaceful area, and surrounded by such natural beauty it feels natural to spend some time reflecting. I do that while taking photos, so off I went for an early morning exploration through the terraces of La Selva.

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From all the walking and yoga you naturally work up an appetite! That was taken care of by La Selva with the most creative and delicious meals by chef Francesco Nicolai, which were all vegetarian and incorporated ingredients grown on their property. So fresh, so unexpected and so very good.

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I met such interesting people who were part of the yoga retreat, which meant that dinner at the long wooden table naturally led into conversations after dinner over fresh lemon verbena tea with a dollop of La Selva’s own honey.

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Just outside the view was captivating day and night. During quiet moments I could just sit and get lost in the view of the mountains and the sea, including the Li Galli islands off Positano.

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Come along and enjoy some of the photos I took while exploring La Selva and enjoying some quiet moments before and after the yoga classes.

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While the location of yoga retreat meant lots of nature, every once in awhile a reminder of modern day Positano would appear. At night the lights of massive yachts dotted the sea around Positano. Like I said, there are two sides of the Amalfi Coast. I loved being surrounded by the side much more comfortable to me – quiet, natural cooking, spectacular scenery.

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Everyone … including the cats … were peaceful and happy at La Selva! They have resident cats, dogs, chickens and even two extremely cute donkeys that you can stop by and say hi to while out exploring. I was pretty sure that cat had it all figured out.

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While walking to and from the yoga studio, I loved catching little glimpses of the familiar Positano, like the Li Galli islands suddenly popping out from behind the olive trees. Do you see them in the photo above?

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And, the best part, there was yoga! While I’ve never had much experience taking yoga classes, both Shari and her assistant instructor Melissa both made me feel comfortable right away. It was also my first time with Ashtanga yoga, which I enjoyed as well. Given that my yoga practice takes place in my living room, it was wonderful to get some time with experienced teachers who were able to help me see quite a few new things that I remember every time I get on the yoga mat now. I just wish I could continue to take classes from Shari and Melissa … and I wouldn’t mind having that platform and incredible view, too!

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If you love Positano and love yoga, I couldn’t recommend the Sole Yoga Holidays yoga retreat in Positano highly enough! You can experience it yourself next year from July 30th-August 5th, 2017. Find out more about Sole Yoga Holiday’s Positano Yoga Retreat here … and don’t forget to enter my code “CIAOAMALFI” when you book and receive a €100 Euro discount plus a natural cosmetic gift made right at La Selva!*

*Not to be used with any other offer or discount. please review Sole Yoga Holidays policy for information.

DISCLOSURE: If you use the CIAOAMALFI code when booking your retreat with Shari, I will earn a small commission. I only make recommendations that I have experienced firsthand, and all the opinions expressed here are wholeheartedly my own. You will not pay more when booking with my code. Thank you in advance for your support!

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The Cure for Everything

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“The cure for anything is salt water — sweat, tears, or the sea.” – Isak Dinesen

Have you ever needed to go to the beach? I mean really needed to go to the beach? By the time September arrived last week, that was the point I had reached. Being on the other side of August—this August this year—felt like a minor victory. Life has that way of making everything happen all at once, and sometimes in the mess of that “everything” the balance of challenging things becomes overwhelming. That’s when the beach calls me the most.

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While I’m not one who needs to spend a ton of time swimming, I do need to be near the sea. It refreshes my soul, washing away the tension in my shoulders and replacing it with the rhythmic sound of my breath mixed with the waves crashing against the rocky shore. Yesterday, after over a month of work frustration, my sweet cat Toulouse not being well and a variety of stress from situations outside my control, we made it to the beach. And not just any beach, but the isolated and beautiful Santa Croce beach just west of Amalfi. I felt already easier in my spirit just climbing into the little boat in Amalfi for the short ride to the beach. I was thinking of Dinesen, about salt water being the cure of everything. She was onto something.

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Once there we meandered along the rocky shore to find a pair of sun beds right at the water’s edge. I could sit on the end of the sun bed and dig my feet into the dark sand, feeling the water rush back and forth and watching the sun sparkle across the sea. I have a new idea of heaven and it’s this.

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Of course I grabbed my camera and went off to explore while taking photos, another way that Santa Croce relaxes me. I get lost in the heat of the rocks, the incredible turquoise color of the sea and all the textures and hidden treasures. Had someone put that piece of green sea glass in those holes carved by nature? Or had it just happened to end up there? Was I looking at the hands of children playing a game that was now stopped in time or was this another work of nature creating beauty out of chance?

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I returned to my sun bed and listened to the sea. For the rest of the day, even after returning home, I could close my eyes and see the sun sparkling and hear that sound in my ears. I imagine my mind will be there for some time to come, if given even the slightest chance to wander away from everyday tasks. What a place to wander to though! Santa Croce is tucked away in a rocky cove that used to be accessible by a steep staircase from the Amalfi Coast road high above. Years ago, however, part of that staircase fell into the sea during a winter storm, leaving the beach only accessible now by boat. There are two restaurants that offer sun beds and beach service, Ristorante Da Teresa and Ristorante Santa Croce. Both offer boat service from Amalfi if you’re coming to their beach to rent a sun bed or go to the restaurant. During the summer there’s also a paid boat service from Amalfi for a few Euros each way.

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We always go to Da Teresa, which is the restaurant with the bright orange umbrellas. They have a dining terrace with incredible views and equally incredible food. This is the place to go for seafood – so fresh since it’s just been caught from the sea a few steps beyond the restaurant.

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The day at Santa Croce always goes too fast, but it felt especially so yesterday. Summer this year seemed to slip by so quickly. I know there are plenty of beach days ahead before the season ends, but as I left Santa Croce I looked back and hoped I would indeed be back soon.

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I’m not ready for summer to be over yet. Not the intense heat, not the massive crowds—those have been enough—but that feeling of knowing that the days of relaxed summer fun are ahead. I want to hold on to that just a little bit longer!

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Sunrise on September

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This morning I opened the windows to a majestic sight. The days, indeed, are getting shorter. For so many months now I’ve opened the windows to find the sun shining bright. Today I caught the magic moment just before the sun appeared over the mountains, when the sky is aglow and everything is tinted with shades from deep orange to soft pink across the Amalfi Coast. Even when it doesn’t start so beautifully, September always makes me smile. This just felt like a gift.

While it’s hot and summer still hangs heavy in the air, the first of September feels like a fresh start. And I look forward to it. Since moving to the Amalfi Coast, where August is the busiest month of the year, the beginning of September is something like a prize. I made it. There are still weeks ahead of enjoying the beach and summer weather with fewer crowds now, but those delicious first signs of autumn will also start showing up. I love the crunch of leaves, the smell of wine being made, persimmons and pomegranates showing up at the fruit shop and the colors of autumn.

It also feels like the chance to make a new beginning. I’ve set my intentions and goals for September and am feeling energized. I have some fun plans coming up this month, and I look forward to sharing about them on Ciao Amalfi!

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How to Enjoy Summer on the Amalfi Coast

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August has arrived and with it the peak summer season on the Amalfi Coast. The beaches are crowded and colorful, the water is refreshing and the days perfect for heading to the beach. Whether you’re packing your bag for a summer holiday on the Amalfi Coast or simply dreaming of your next getaway, here’s a look at some of my favorite ways to enjoy this splendid time of year on the Amalfi Coast!

 

Grab A Beach Chair

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The beaches of the Amalfi Coast are justifiable famous for their dramatic shores and incredibly blue sea that changes in color from deep cobalt to brilliant turquoise and every shade in between. Yet there’s another thing you should know about the beaches before you arrive ready to relax – they are rocky. It’s better to come prepared, which definitely means packing a pair of flip flops (preferably a pair you don’t particularly love) or beach shoes. A lot of people wear them just to the edge of the water to protect their feet from the hot hot hot hot stones that are for some people (even locals!) uncomfortable to walk on.

So with all those rocky beaches, just throwing a towel down isn’t always very comfortable. The way around that is to rent a sunbed and umbrella for the day. It’s very much worth it! The local beaches all are well equipped to ensure a comfortable day at the beach. The other advantage of renting a sunbed from a stabilimento balneare is that it generally means you can take a shower and take advantage of the changing cabins as well. They area also usually attached to restaurants or have a beach bar where you can get sandwiches and drinks. Very handy!

Not sure where to go? Check out my guides to the Beaches of Amalfi and Beaches of Positano for some ideas!

 

Bring a Good Book

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Got a sunbed? Got an umbrella? Perfect! Now all that you need is a good book and you’re set. Why not make it a book set on the Amalfi Coast or nearby to really immerse yourself in the area? I made a list awhile back of great Summer Reads for Amalfi Coast Lovers. You can dip into that list for inspiration, but it does need a bit of updating. For instance, I just finished reading Only in Naples: Lessons in Food and Famiglia from my Italian Mother-in-Law by Katherine Wilson. And I didn’t want to put it down even to take a swim in the sea just steps away! Put it on your summer reading list if you love the Amalfi Coast, Naples, Campania, Italy … or all of the above. You won’t regret it!

 

Get Out on the Water

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(Image courtesy Exclusive Cruises)

A day (or two or three or four …) spent relaxing by the sea is a must while visiting the Amalfi Coast during the summer. Yet if you’re here this time of year there’s another way to enjoy the beauty of the Amalfi Coast – from the sea. One of the best ways to get around is to take the ferry on the Amalfi Coast, since you get to see the epic coastline and avoid all the traffic and crowded buses. However, if you have the time and love the sea, there’s no better way to see the Amalfi Coast than by getting out on a private boat.

With a small boat you can cruise along very close to the rocky cliffs, discover little coves and beaches only accessible by boat, go into stunning caves and grottoes and swim in the most incredible spots like around the Li Galli islands. All at your own pace! If this sounds like heaven, you’ll want to drop my friend Valeria at Exclusive Cruises a line. They know all the best spots and can help you plan an incredible day out on the sea on the Amalfi Coast or anywhere in the area!

 

Dining By the Sea

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If your normal idea of going out to eat means getting in your car and driving to a restaurant, then there’s something fun you can do on the Amalfi Coast. There are a lot of amazing restaurants near Amalfi, Positano, Conca dei Marini and other towns that are only reachable by boat (or sometimes a ton of steps). This is a fun way to get out on the water and dine right on the beach overlooking the sea. Most restaurants have complementary boat service from the largest town nearby. You might like to try Da Adolfo in Positano or Santa Croce in Amalfi – two of my favorites!

 

Don’t Miss White Wine with Peaches

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Perhaps you’re thinking that you can put peaches in your white wine at home, and that’s certainly true. But what you can’t quite capture is that delicious combination of Amalfi Coast Falanghina wine with ripe peaches mixed with the salty breeze from the beach and sound of waves tumbling onto a rocky shore. Heck I can’t even recreate it in my own home here! While you can find this heavenly concoction at many beachside restaurants, my favorite is at Ristorante Da Teresa at the Santa Croce beach just west of Amalfi.

 

Evenings Are Magic

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After the summer day tripping crowds reluctantly leave, something magical happens. I love the Amalfi Coast any time of the day, but during the summer when the days are long and hot there’s nothing quite like heading out in the evening. Sunset is particularly gorgeous from Praiano and Positano, but in Amalfi the evening hours are very special, too. The town turns pink, families bring their kids out to play along the the waterfront and the sea becomes an Impressionist painting of shimmering colors. Most of all, compared to the hustle and bustle of the day, there’s a peace that settles over the villages. These are the long, languid days of summer that we never want to end!

 

What do you do to enjoy the best of summer on the Amalfi Coast?

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The Best View of Ravello … is From Scala!

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A picture perfect view of Ravello from Scala

Of all the towns on the Amalfi Coast, perhaps the one most noted for incredible views is Ravello. Situated on a promontory about 1,200 feet above the sea, there are indeed amazing views in every direction. Yet, one of my little secrets is that the best view of Ravello is from the town of Scala. Located just across a deep valley, Ravello’s sleepy next door neighbor isn’t a spot that many of the day tripping visitors get a chance to experience. It’s peaceful, it’s traditional, it’s charming and it’s got awfully good views, too.

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Looking across the valley to Ravello

Earlier this year, Scala inaugurated one of the town’s newest civic projects – a brand new terrace overlooking Ravello. The new little piazza that has been created is appropriately called Piazza San Lorenzo after the Duomo of San Lorenzo that borders one side of the terrace.

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The Duomo of Scala is right next to the new terrace

A small flight of steps, a great wheelchair ramp and even an elevator lead down to a large terrace that looks across the valley to the center of Ravello. There are benches to stop awhile and enjoy the view – a must! I love strolling by and watching kids kicking around the soccer ball on the new terrace – safe from cars nearby yet still close enough for their parents to keep an eye on them while shopping or running errands in the center of Scala just a few steps away.

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Scala’s new Piazza San Lorenzo

The new terrace opens up a great deal more space for people to hang out, relax, talk and enjoy the view. After all the time that I’ve spent sitting in the main square of Ravello admiring Scala and thinking that I’d like to do the opposite, now there’s finally a great spot to take in how beautiful Ravello is from Scala!

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Sit down and rest awhile …

If you walk all the way to the edge of the terrace and look down the valley, you can catch a glimpse of the very tip top of Atrani below. You can also see the very end of the promontory of Ravello where the Villa Cimbrone is located. It’s all luscious green on the Ravello side to the left and a mountainside of chestnut trees on the Scala side on the right. There’s even one cute little pony that meanders around munching on grass, seemingly oblivious to the incredible view.

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Looking down the valley between Ravello and Scala

So next time you’re in Ravello in search of beautiful views, don’t forget to head over to Scala to discover this beautiful little town and enjoy the views from the new Piazza San Lorenzo!