Every Sunday Evening

 

Romani Playing Bocce  Romani playing bocce in Villa Borghese by Ben just Ben

 

Every Sunday evening during the warm weather months, of which there are many, the old men near where I live play bocce. This game is played all over Italy, but here it is a local ritual that takes place only on Sunday evenings. The familiar clicking sound of the balls and the voices from afar have become a weekly ritual all its own for me. These sounds reach me at a different moment every Sunday, sometimes watering the garden, sometimes reading, sometimes preparing dinner. But no matter what I’m doing it marks a passage of time, that another week is coming to an end and a new one is about to begin. As I type this now listening to the clicking of the computer keyboard, the familiar sounds of the bocce balls remind me that almost all of the Sundays this summer have flown by. One by one, with the clicking of the bocce balls they have passed.

 

It is a strange and new experience for me to regularly reflect on the passing of such a length of time. The 7am church bells often wake me with a startled reminder that a new day has already begun outside my closed shutters. Yesterday with all its hopes, plans and dreams has turned into another day. I open the windows, breath in the fresh air, and take in the sun and beauty of another day. By noon, the bells from the churches of Ravello and Scala fill the valley with a melodic reminder that it is already midday. The 7pm bells are a not so subtle reminder that it will soon be time to start thinking about dinner.

 

Yet, when the the clicking of the bocce balls comes on Sunday evenings, I am often taken aback. Could it be that another week has gone? Didn’t I just hear that sound? Wasn’t it yesterday? No, it was a week ago already. How can everything that happens in one week suddenly be made to feel as if it had vanished with a few clicks of these little balls?

 bocce balls 

Then I hear the sound again, accompanied by celebratory sounds from the distant voices. Something good has happened! I am back in the here and now knowing that this moment will soon lead to another and another. The thoughts, feelings and experiences of now will soon be bumped aside by new ones just like the bocce balls—one strike and they will have fallen away to the past.

Behind the Blog – Grazie Italytutto!

 

italytutto logo

I feel quite honored to be featured on Italytutto.com in its first blogger profile called Behind the Blog – Laura from Ciao Amalfi! I had a great time answering the fun and thought-provoking questions about my background, my life here on the Amalfi Coast, blogging, photography, the adventures of launching a freelance writing career, and my favorite orange cat named Puffy. Since I don’t often reveal too much about my personal life here on Ciao Amalfi, this is the real inside scoop!

 

And since Puffy hasn’t made an appearance recently, here he is sporting his “sleek summer look” as I described it on Italytutto. He looks like a completely different cat when compared to the orange puffball he is during the winter! But I can’t imagine he would look this cool if he still had all that winter fur.

 

Ciao Amalfi Coast Streamlined Puffy

 

Many thanks to Italytutto.com for the Behind the Blog feature. I look forward to learning more about  my fellow Italy blogging friends in upcoming Behind the Blog features!

Buon Compleanno!

 

28th Birthday Breakfast

 

Many thanks to everyone for the kind birthday wishes yesterday! Last year I started my birthday with a breakfast so lovely and memorable (above) that I decided it should be a tradition. On Monday I walked to the fruit & veggie shop and bought a watermelon and hauled it uphill for a half hour home. Phew! The lady in the shop picked out a special one for me since it was for my birthday, and she certainly picked a good one. Yum! I see now looking back at my photos from last year that the hydrangea bushes in the garden are blooming much later this year. Last year for my birthday there were so many I cut some for the table. But there are a few starting to look pretty this year:

 

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Hydrangea

 

The bougainvillea in the garden is certainly lovely! We have one that is purple and looks so nice against the white wall:

 

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Bougainvillea1

 

And my new bougainvillea has started to bloom! We have been waiting to see what color it would be since it didn’t have flowers on it when we bought it. We were hoping for the intense bright pink that you see on Capri, but  I am rather fond of the light red color we ended up with. I haven’t seen very many quite this color. I love surprises!

 

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Bougainvillea2

 

Yesterday the weather couldn’t have been more opposite than a year ago. Last year I spent the day on the beach and I remember it being almost too hot to be in the sun. I thought of that yesterday while I spent the afternoon reading a new book (set on the Amalfi Coast in 1939 . . . more coming about that soon!) under a blanket and listening to the rain and the thunder rumbling up in the mountains. It was the perfect cool evening for going to one of my favorite restaurants called Le Querce  (The Oaks) up in the Valico di Chiunzi in Tramonti. After driving up into the mountains, and continuing along a tiny road up and up and up, you reach Le Querce, which is a rustic and warm spot that makes amazing steak. (If you go, definitely try their homemade salami!) When we arrived, the powers was out for the entire city of Tramonti, and we started our dinner by candle light while the storms continued outside. It was an wonderful and memorable (and not to mention tasty!) way to spend my birthday evening. Many thanks again for all the birthday wishes!

Learning to Drive on the Amalfi Coast

They say driving in Italy is an adventure.

They say the Amalfi Coast road, with all its curves, impossibly narrow stretches and crazy drivers, is even more of an adventure.

But what those people didn’t say is that learning to drive a manual transmission car for the first time in Italy and on the Amalfi Coast is something more than an adventure. Start by thinking action adventure, set it in a small town, add a few donkeys, tourist buses, and a couple of perplexed old men sitting on a wall, and you will have a mental image of my first driving lesson in Italy.

Sigh. This is going to take awhile. What I found most frustrating is that I could go so quickly from being the person who was a very good driver for eleven years to the person who suddenly felt so helpless behind the wheel. As I struggled to find the right balance between la frizione (the clutch) and the pedale dell’acceleratore (you guessed it!), I couldn’t help but wonder why driving has to be so difficult. But difficult or not, manual transmission cars are the standard here in Italy, and I do intend to be that good driver again. Like I said, it is just going to take awhile. While the parking lot I dream of is nonexistent here, we have found a couple of stretches of road on the way home that are relatively straight (only three or four curves!) and not too steep, so those are my practicing grounds now. I know at the end of this driving adventure I will feel confident driving just about anywhere in the world. For the time being, perhaps I will just stick to the virtual driving on Google Maps!


What are your best driving adventures in Italy?

Travel Tip
Are you planning on driving on your next trip to Italy? It is very easy, quick and affordable to get an International Driving Permit from your local AAA or through the mail. I also hear it is possible to rent automatic transmission cars here for those of you that share the same driving disadvantage as me!

Where were you two years ago today?

Two years ago today I visited the Amalfi Coast for the first time. It was a glorious late February day, the sun was shining and the water was more shades of blue than imaginable. The beauty of this place hit me hard. Now I am reminded of John Steinback’s description Positano back in 1953:

“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.”

Remembering that first day on the Amalfi Coast, I went back and looked through my photos from two years ago. I love how the camera stops time, how it freezes moments that we can go back and relish again. Here are some moments I will never forget . . .

The overlook above Positano

The mountains above Positano

The first time I saw Positano

Looking toward Amalfi

I would love to hear memories, stories or thoughts about your first visit to the Amalfi Coast!