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Grazie Mille … For a Great Year at Ciao Amalfi!

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As we prepare to celebrate the end of the year, I want to take a moment to say thank you to each and every one of you. Your support of Ciao Amalfi has meant so much to me this year, and your comments, likes, shares and kind words have been such an inspiration. Together we have created an amazing community of people around the world bound together by a love of the Amalfi Coast. Thank you for being a part of this growing community and for all the time you have spent with Ciao Amalfi!

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And a very special thank you for once again nominating Ciao Amalfi for Italy Magazine’s Blogger Awards! I was honored to be short listed in the Best Living in Italy Blog category. A huge shout out and extra thank you to everyone who voted for Ciao Amalfi! I love sharing about life on the Amalfi Coast, so it is always an honor to know that travelers around the world find it helpful and enjoyable.

Many congratulations to all the winners and especially my dear friend Michelle from Bleeding Espresso who won our category Best Living in Italy Blog. As the blog that has inspired and helped me the most over the years as I have adjusted to living in Italy, I couldn’t think of a better person to win than Michelle!

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Wishing you a peaceful New Year’s and wonderful 2017! I look forward to seeing you in the new year with lots more Amalfi Coast magic to share!

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Finding Home on the Amalfi Coast

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When my mother first set foot in Amalfi’s main piazza and stood gazing up at the Duomo of Amalfi, something deep inside her said, “Home.” It was strong, clear and visceral. She didn’t tell me this story until many years later, long after I had moved to the Amalfi Coast.

My first experience with Amalfi, while not quite so succinct, was just as powerful. It was as a result of my mother’s immediate connection, since I tagged along on her subsequent trip to the Amalfi Coast. The emotions that flooded over me that first time I set foot in Amalfi were overwhelming. Later that day, in late February 2007, I found myself in the hotel room in Vietri sul Mare trying to make sense of it all in my journal. I wrote that when I stepped off the bus and looked up the mountainside at the colorful buildings and the watchtower above, that I had felt so intensely that this would be an important place in my life.

And now it is my home.

Have you experienced that before? That odd yet extremely familiar feeling of finding home in a place you’ve never been before? If you have, you know just what I mean.

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And if my mother and I both falling for Amalfi immediately at different times wasn’t enough, there’s more to this story. When I stepped off that bus in 2007 and knew instinctively that Amalfi would be an important place, I had no clue that my tour guide that day—now my husband—was born and raised in Amalfi. How’s that for destiny?

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Nearly ten years later, I still have moments when I marvel at this place I call home. Travelers come from around the world and fall in love with the Amalfi Coast. Perhaps with the pastel cascade that is Positano or with the dreamy views from Ravello. Or like me and my mother with Amalfi. There’s some reassuring about know that around the world there are countless kindred spirits who have been here—or simply dreamed of being here—and have felt that deep connection with the Amalfi Coast.

What can I say? When your heart says home, you have found your place.

 

Italy Blogging Roundtable

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This blog post is part of a series called The Italy Blogging Roundtable. Every month our group of Italy based writers takes on a new theme, and you can read the contributions for this month’s topic – Home – at the links below. We’d love to hear your thoughts and comments. Please share the stores if you’ve enjoyed them!

Bleeding EspressoChristmas in Calabria: Home for the Holidays

BrigolanteThe Humble Art of the Nativity Crèche in Umbria

Italy ExplainedYou’ve Been Gone So Long (On Leaving Home & Finding Ancestral Roots)

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A Rose-tinted Morning

 

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Sometimes the curiosities of the night and weird places my dreams carry me linger on after waking. I suppose that happens to everyone now and again. This morning I woke up even earlier than usual and couldn’t settle down again to rest. We all carry things from long ago inside us, even if we choose not to think about them, seemingly forget them or try our darnedest to move on. But that’s fine, it’s the way it is. I’ve never been one to focus much on the past—in its good or bad moments—but I think the very nature of being an expat means you have left things behind. Family, friendships, experiences, possibilities. Of course, those are very often replaced by new family, new friends, new experiences and a new world of possibilities. But there is a piece, sometimes large pieces, of your life left behind when you move to another country.

I padded across the bedroom floor in the dark and heard my husband stirring. I hoped I hadn’t woken him up, but I sensed he was awake, too. Toulouse stretched in that satisfying way only cats can stretch in the morning and followed me out of the room. I went into the adjacent bedroom and opened the windows. The sky was ablaze with a rose-tinted sunrise over Ravello. In that moment, the sadness of the night’s dreams floated away. It was another day in the place I love most in the world.

Wherever you are at right now or whatever things from the past might be weighing you down, there are always new possibilities ahead. Maybe it’s a rose-tinted way of looking at the world, but it makes me smile and look forward to all the adventures ahead!

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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!