Discover the Authentic Amalfi Coast
Writing, photography & tales from daily life on Italy’s Amalfi Coast, through the eyes of Laura Thayer, an American writer, blogger, photographer and art historian.
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April has been a bit of tease so far this year leaving many locals wondering just what happened to spring. It Italy there’s an old saying “marzo è pazzo,” that March is crazy, and I’ve overheard quite a few people saying that it’s not just March. For every hazy, grey day another brilliant spring day with bright blue skies is not far behind. Somehow it has even intensified how beautiful those first few days of spring truly are. After a lovely week, a big bank of clouds rolled in the other evening – right over Ravello.
Beyond the clouds the sunset was painting the sky with beautiful pastel colors. Yet Ravello was covered by what started as a mist. I stood and watched the cloud slowly cover Ravello and wind its way down the other side.
Usually these types of clouds roll in off the sea this time of year, but this one came over the valley on the other side of Ravello above Minori. I’m not quite sure what it really was, a low cloud or fog, but it sometimes happens early spring when it’s very humid like it has been this week.
Soon from across the valley in Scala I could hardly make out anything of Ravello. Just the shape of a few houses and those lovely umbrella pines. Another few minutes after I took this photo and the cloud arrived in Scala. In a few minutes it went from being a pretty sunset to a complete white out with cars creeping by with their lights on.
April may be a little crazy this year, but it has also been quite stunning. Nature is like a show on the Amalfi Coast, and so far this month the variety has been quite entertaining!
This has been one of those days that just couldn’t make up its mind. Beautiful spring morning … sure thing! Sudden thunder and hailstorm with pounding down rain … why not? My husband called mid morning to say batten down the hatches (well, he didn’t really say that … but now I wonder if there’s a similar expression in Italian?) since he was on the boat to Capri that sailed through that big black storm. I did fix the outside shutters in place, unplugged all the electronics and took in the newly planted basil, parsley and herbs from the terrace. In the sunshine.
Sure enough … not long after I heard the thunder rumbling in the mountains and looked out to see dark clouds up above. The rain and grandine (small hail) weren’t far behind. As the cats slept (they miss just about everything that happens…) I peered out from the dark house (always a good idea to unplug things, see?) at the rain pounding down. Perfect for the garden, but I was glad I heeded my husband’s warning and brought the delicate new herbs in. Some fat snail has already sat on enough of the new basil plants, and they certainly didn’t need a hailstorm!
Now the sun is shining and, besides the shimmer of raindrops on the plants, there’s no sign of the sudden storm. Spring brings with it so many remarkable moments – just sharing one of them on the Amalfi Coast!
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!
With just a few days left before Lasagna Eating Day … er, I mean … Carnevale, the temperatures have dropped and snow has arrived at high elevations on the Amalfi Coast. It snows so rarely here that it’s often a welcome surprise. This morning while we were having breakfast I noticed the snowflakes starting to fall outside. Is there anything better than being home, warm and enjoying a cup of tea and the newspaper while watching the snowflakes fall?
They didn’t fall for long and the sunshine quickly melted the teeny bit of accumulation, but it was a happy sight while it lasted. Since it’s hard to capture the fleeting magic of snowflakes out the window, I’ll leave you with the image that welcomed us back to Naples yesterday evening. The snow atop Mt. Vesuvius was the first sign that the temperatures had dropped while we were away last week.
The weather is cold and we have to bundle up inside and out, but I’ve been enjoying these rare glimpses of winter’s beauty the last few days. Wishing everyone who is dealing with blizzards in America and big snow in Italy to stay safe and warm!
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.
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.
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.
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.