Category Archives: Life on Amalfi Coast

Becoming Italian on the Amalfi Coast

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.”

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Making Scones

Ciao Amalfi Coast Travel Making Scones

Baking adventures on the Amalfi Coast

I love tea. I love scones. Yes, I’m American. (We’re allowed.) I usually keep my tea drinking ways to myself here in the land of espresso and cappuccino. Although I do go into a sort of giddy haze in London when I go in Fortnum & Mason or the original Twinings tea shop on the Strand. And my husband is very patient as the cupboard in the kitchen has been slowly taken over  by tea. Frankly, I don’t even remember what used to be in there.

Now there’s black tea of various assortments from my favorite earl grey to a soothing Assam with the hint of jasmine from F&M to good ol’ strong cup of Yorkshire Gold. And since I don’t drink as much black tea as I used to, the cupboard is full to the brim (i.e., boxes fall on your head when you open it) with an assortment of Pukka herbal teas, chamomile tea and a big bag of dried peppermint from the erboristeria in Amalfi.

But the scones? There are so many tempting sweets here in Italy, but they’re all just a bit to sweet for me. Especially to face first thing in the morning since I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. Even the cornetti here, while very good, make me miss the slightly more savory croissants in Paris.

Ciao Amalfi Coast Travel Scones from Oven

My first scones

I’ve thought about making scones many time. Last year in London I stopped in Books for Cooks in Notting Hill and picked up a little booklet with recipes that had a very basic scone recipe. That little cookbook has since gone missing. How rude. Searching online often turned up recipes that had too many ingredients that are hard or impossible to find here on the Amalfi Coast. Buttermilk? Eh, nope. (And I’ve tried the substitutes with Irish soda bread … it’s just not the same.)

This morning I did a bit of searching and came across this recipe on delicious:days that was beautifully simple, had very few ingredients and all ones that I had in the pantry. Scones! They became quite golden brown, but that was because I had to run to keep Toulouse from knocking over and breaking the bedside lamp. (Again.)

Scones ready for tea

Ready for tea!

So how did they come out? Well, I’ve had four. Just to make sure, you know. Result: very good! I look forward to experimenting with different types of scones. And I need a cutter, because the glass I used was a bit thick and it was hard to get a very smooth cut so the scones would rise evenly. That’s OK, they still tasted good.

Check out the recipe I used here. Or please to share your own. I’d love to try it out!

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Spring Laundry

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Laundry Time in the Spring

After a long and unusually dreary winter on the Amalfi Coast, the time change and arrival of spring temperatures means it’s finally time to dry laundry outside again. If you heard a loud cheer recently from the general direction of the Amalfi Coast, it was all the housewives who could finally put the laundry outside to dry again. While some lucky women have a balcony or terrace with sun exposure in the winter, our terrace receives sunshine for approximately 35 seconds per day in the winter. (Sure, I’m exaggerating … but 35 seconds is really what it feels like!) I’ll spare you the drama involved in drying laundry in a humid and cold house all winter long, but I will tell you that it involves much creativity, patience and small prayers to the heavens. (Translate: socks and underwear on every electric heater, buying special towels for the kitchen that dry quickly and seriously debating wearing the same thing for 12 days in a row…)

And then one day the sunshine arrives and all is good and right in the world again. Quickly we forget about icky smelling clothes that never dried, days upon days of being lost in the low-lying clouds and the monumental effort of trying to dry queen size flannel sheets without a dryer or sunshine. Now the laundry smells like sunshine … and I don’t want to hear anything about winter until I have to. (Usually I pass the denial of winter phase about January, so we can talk then…)

Happy spring from one very happy southern Italian housewife!

Also posted in Amalfi, Amalfi Coast, Seasons, Weather

The End of the Season

Amalfi Lido delle Sirene Beach - Laura Thayer

The empty beach at Lido delle Sirene in Amalfi

Like clockwork, the end of October often brings with it a big storm and an abrupt change in the seasons. One day the beaches will be dotted with sunbathers enjoying the last warm autumn days while holding onto summer for as long as possible and then the next the beaches will be barren and covered with debris washed up from the rough seas. We’ve had a few intense storms pass over the Amalfi Coast recently, and they brought with them the official end of the summer season. During a break in the rainy weather last week, I was out and about and was struck by the sudden change. Where not long ago there were rows upon rows of beach chairs lining the rocky Lido delle Sirene in Amalfi, now the beach is empty for the winter.

Amalfi Coast Fishing Boat Harbor - Laura Thayer

Brilliant blues in Amalfi

The colors were brilliant, even more so after the recent storms. The rough sea had churned up a spectacular turquoise that only shows up after bad weather. Besides the Amalfitans coming and going, the walk along the harbor was quieter than usual. After seeing the empty beaches, the other indication that the season has ended is the empty port. The boats have been loaded up and driven away on big, traffic blocking trucks to safer spots for the winter. Even the docks that are lined with boats all summer long are pulled up to protect them from rough winter seas. They’ll become scenic perches for the seagulls for the rest of the winter.

Winter in Amalfi Harbor - Laura Thayer

The Amalfi harbor without boats lining the docks

Perhaps the strangest sight at the beginning of winter is seeing the Marina Grande beach, the largest in Amalfi, completely empty. If you’ve been swimming here during the summer months you’ll know just how odd it is to see it without the rows of beach chairs and candy colored umbrellas. It will look like this, besides the odd group of visitors having a picnic on a sunny day and those rare locals that swim all year round, until next spring.

October at Marina Grande Beach in Amalfi - Laura Thayer

All is quiet on Amalfi's Marina Grande Beach

The season has ended, but with it another has begun in Amalfi. While it’s different for everyone, for us this is the time for catching up after a busy season – for running all those errands that there simply hasn’t been time to do and for trying to find some much needed moments of relaxation at the same time. The Christmas holidays are around the corner, but for now I think I can use just a little bit of time overlooking an empty beach.

Also posted in Amalfi, Amalfi Coast, Beaches, Costiera Amalfitana, Seasons, Weather