laura-thayer-ciao-amalfi

Bitten by the Amalfi Coast Bug

laura-thayer-ciao-amalfi

Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.

John Steinbeck wrote those oft-quoted lines after visiting the Amalfi Coast in 1953. While his words have resonated with every traveler smitten by this temptingly beautiful coastline ever since, I am sure he was not the first visitor to fall in love with the Amalfi Coast. Yet Steinbeck captured an intense emotion in his seemingly simple description. There is certainly something tempting about this landscape that is hard to pinpoint – a certain something that captures the imagination and dreams.

Everyone who loves this part of Italy has a different story to tell about how they were bitten by the Amalfi Coast bug. Perhaps it was a romantic honeymoon, tracing family heritage or maybe a dream vacation. So how did I end up here? I’ll share a little bit about what lured me here and what compelled me to stay. I do hope you’ll share your own story about how you fell in love with the Amalfi Coast in the comments below!

amalfi-harbor-sea

One late February day in 2007, I arrived at the Naples airport – without my luggage and, much more importantly, without my mother. Thanks to a blizzard in the midwest, I had lost both en route to Italy. (Fortunately, both arrived the next day!) My mom had planned a week holiday on the Amalfi Coast after seeing the coastline briefly during a day trip from Naples the year before. It was her dream since she was a young girl growing up on a farm in rural Nebraska to live in Positano. (Yes, loving the Amalfi Coast is in my DNA!) But, as fate would have it, I was to spend my first day on the Amalfi Coast missing my mom. Yet it was also that very same day that I met the man who would become my husband – a very charismatic tour guide from Amalfi. Life is strange, no?

ciao-amalfi-duomo-campanile

Not really having any idea what to expect, I stepped down off the bus in Amalfi and looked up the mountainside. That was the exact moment I was bitten by the Amalfi Coast bug. Later that evening back in the hotel I wrote in the handmade paper journal from Amalfi (a gift from my mom from her first visit to Amalfi) that this place was going to be important in my life but I wasn’t sure why. Yes, life is strange.

That incredible holiday on the Amalfi Coast with my mom was nearly 10 years ago now. It has been quite the adventure at times living here, but I’ve never doubted that this is where I’m supposed to be. It’s not just Positano that bites deep, it’s the entire Amalfi Coast.

ciao-amalfi-hiking-atrani

There are roads you follow that sometimes lead you to surprising places in your life. And then there are places that stop you in your tracks and make you stay put. That’s what happened to me on the Amalfi Coast. Yes, I’ve definitely been bitten the Amalfi Coast bug … and I hope there’s no cure!

 

Italy Blogging Roundtable

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

Italy ExplainedWhat Bugs You About Italy?

ArtTravBugs That Look Like Jewels at La Specola

BrigolanteOf Flowers and Bees, Butterflies and Dreams: Il Lavandeto di Assisi

Becoming Italian on the Amalfi Coast

amalfi-coast-italian-citizen

It’s one thing to be from a place and another to love a place. But what happens when those two things blend into one? I’ve been pondering those sort of questions and feelings recently leading up to the day of my Italian citizenship ceremony. An exciting and emotional experience that has made the Amalfi Coast feel even more like my home!

The ceremony took place in Scala, and for some of you reading this might be the first time you’ve heard of Scala. It’s my little hidden gem on the Amalfi Coast and the place I’m very happy to call home. It’s a small town, considered the oldest on the Amalfi Coast, located in the mountains above Amalfi and just across the valley from Ravello.

20160601-DSC_0492

The Comune, or city hall, of Scala overlooks the central square of town, just across from the Duomo and next to a new terrace with incredible views of the Ravello. After four years of waiting (a mandatory two year waiting period after the wedding and then about two years of processing time), all of the paperwork was finalized in Salerno for me to become an Italian citizen. The final ceremony takes place in the city hall where you are a resident.

20160601-DSC_0435

There ceremony was presided over by the mayor of Scala, Luigi Mansi, and took place in the city hall’s large reception room. While the ceremony itself is relatively short, it was beautiful in its symbolism and meaning to me. It’s hard to put into words what it felt like – and it’s still sinking in!

20160601-DSC_0451

Before officially receiving Italian citizenship, I had to make an oath swearing to be faithful to the Republic of Italy and faithfully observe the laws of the state. Here’s the statement: “Giuro di essere fedele alla Repubblica Italiana ed al suo Capo e di osservare lealmente la legge dello Stato.”

20160601-DSC_0462

Then, of course, there are all the papers to sign. And … that’s it! A piece of paper doesn’t even come close to being able to contain all of my enthusiasm and emotions for becoming an Italian citizen. I look at that piece of paper every day (yes sometimes several times a day) and it feels just a little bit more real every time.

20160601-DSC_0479

What really made the day special was my husband’s family coming to the ceremony and celebrating with us. I couldn’t imagine my life here – my Italian life – without their support and love. Whatever the piece of paper says, they’ve already made me feel Italian!

20160601-DSC_0475

Thank you to the city hall of Scala and everyone who made it a very special day and experience for me. I’m proud to be an Italian citizen and grateful to have such a beautiful place to call home on the Amalfi Coast!

Moments of Sea Glass

Photo Copyright Laura Thayer

Photo Copyright Laura Thayer

A quiet afternoon not long ago I found myself walking along the waterfront in Amalfi with my husband. Sometimes hand in hand and other times meandering along, bumping into one another as you do when walking on uneven cobblestones. Somehow that has become just as romantic as walking hand in hand, perhaps even more so since it feels so natural.

As February approaches, I often find myself thinking back over my time in Italy. My first visit was a particularly sunny and warm February nine years ago now. Nine years. As I watched the waves roll in and the white foam create delicate patterns on the beach, only to be washed out again seconds later, it felt like the last nine years was something just like that. Beautiful, soothing and fleeting.

Amalfi Coast Travel Winter Beach - Laura Thayer

Photo Copyright Laura Thayer

With a few crashes of pounding angry waves along the way of course. Perhaps there’s nothing quite so good for reflection as the sea. There’s certainly no better time for that in Amalfi than during the quiet days of January and February. I treasure these days like you might a little piece of colorful sea glass washed up on the shore, nestled amid rough edged rocks and tidbits of intricately pattered yet somehow still old fashioned looking ceramic tiles. It seems like a gem and a gift all at once.

That’s when I’ll reach for my husband’s hand while we walk along, tucking this beautiful moment into my pocket like that piece of sea glass.

Buon Anno from the Amalfi Coast!

Amalfi Coast Travel 2016

As the sun shines on this last afternoon of 2015, there’s a momentary stillness that sets in before the festivities begin, the sound of fireworks echo through the mountain valleys and the night sky over Amalfi sparkles with the most spectacular fuochi pirotecnici display at midnight. January 1st is one of my favorite days of the year, full as it is with hope, ideas and new beginnings. Yet before I dive full steam into 2016 and exciting new projects, I like to sit a moment with that stillness. From that stillness is born the magic of everything to come in the new year. Wishing you a 2016 full of health, happiness and, of course, travels to the Amalfi Coast!
xoxo Laura

“For there are moments when something new has entered into us, something unknown; our feelings grow mute in shy perplexity, everything in us withdraws, a stillness comes, and the new, which no one knows, stands in the midst of it and is silent.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

Amalfi Coast Travel November Walk

Home Again

Amalfi Coast Travel Welcome Home

Last week I landed back in Italy after nearly a month spent traveling in America for work and to visit my family in Nebraska. (Helloooo early Thanksgiving gatherings!) It was a whirlwind trip with stops in New Orleans and New York City before heading to Nebraska. I found there’s still a wee bit of jazz on Bourbon Street if you know where to go and spent an incredible day wandering through Central Park surrounded by autumnal splendor. But there’s nothing quite like arriving back home on the Amalfi Coast.

Amalfi Coast Travel San Biagio

My husband had been regaling me with tales about how beautiful the weather had been all of November. Sunshine, unseasonably warm temperatures and crisp colors. So when we saw that the weather was going to change at the end of last week, we took the chance – jet lag and a head cold and all – to enjoy lunch out by the water in Amalfi.

Amalfi Coast Travel November

And of course my favorite winter pastime – a stroll long the long pier that juts out into the port of Amalfi. From there you have an incredible view back to Amalfi and the surrounding mountain valley. What I love best about this walk in the winter? Non c’è nessuno. There is no one. Sure you’ll pass a few locals out for a healthy walk, but that’s about it. But it’s basically just you, the water on both sides and Amalfi as the backdrop. Perfection.

Amalfi Coast Travel November Walk

After lunch the clouds started to arrive, which was the first sign of the change of weather to come. But there were still a few people scattered across the beach. The temperatures have dropped and it has been windy and rainy since Friday. Forget about making hay, you have to go to the beach when the sun shines.

Amalfi Coast Travel November Beach

With the Festival of Sant’ Andrea next week, soon Amalfi will take on a festive holiday atmosphere. It felt like I arrived back home just in time to catch the last glimpse of summer before it slips away into winter.