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Timeless Atrani

The cry of a gull overhead pulls me back into the moment. But it wasn’t the moment I left behind. Beyond me the quiet piazza stretches to the infinity of the sea. On a day like today the horizon is gone, playing a game of hide and seek – and winning. The church is quiet today, taking a well-earned break from its Sunday duties. Two ornate street lamps stand out in silhouette. One lantern cocks its head slightly, as if beckoning my gaze on. A light is what is needed to lead the way to what is past and what is present, but they stand as only guardians to the gate of that journey.
 
Time stands still in this piazza, despite the hourly ringing of the church bells. The bells have always rung out the hours here and they always will. Something so regular to define time actually defies it. How many people have heard those bells ring out over the village? While hanging laundry out in the sunshine, while feeding their families, while making love, while crying? Those people are all still here and will also all be here soon.

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Here there are the echoes of other sounds, too. Of children chasing a small orange ball across the piazza. A cat’s pleading meow, asking for something to eat. Of wind howling down the mountain valley on a stormy winter night. The click of my camera’s shutter as I capture this moment full of invisible sounds.
 
But most of all, it’s all the voices I want to listen to as they float through the piazza. There are stories caught in this piazza, countless stories. Not the kind you read about in the newspaper. These are moments of daily life, the moments that make a life, the moments that are forgotten, but nevertheless left behind. Stories crated day after day, lost to time except in the memories of those who stopped to listen.
 
Listen.

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There’s the hum of a fisherman early in the morning making his way down to the beach. He’ll pull his small wooden boat, blue paint chipped off around the edges, down to the edge of the sea. He’ll give it one last push as he hops aboard, perhaps with the hope about what he’ll catch filling his mind.
 
That hope floats through the maze of tiny, shadowed streets back up to the piazza. It finds an open window and settles into a kitchen – still quiet except for the sound of a moka pot bubbling its dark, intoxicating scent into the morning air. A new day has begun, and with it comes the thoughts for another day ahead. Another menu to prepare. While tying an apron around her waist, a woman wonders, “What catch will the fisherman haul in today?”
 
The clattering of steps brings new life into the piazza. Children with bags slung over their shoulders and sleep in their eyes run across it on the way to school. Always late, always running. Across the piazza they go and down the steps to the future, a future that is unseen and unknown from here.
 
Unknown and yet the same. An old man sits at his window and watches the children run, just as he once ran to school. He knows the future, he’s seen it. But now he watches the future of others, sitting there. The steps are cruel friends. They take you where you want to go, but they take their toll with every step as well.

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And steps are what this village is made of from top to bottom. The sound of heavy steps carries through the labyrinthine staircases. Finding your way is like walking through an M.C. Escher drawing come to life. Even he was here, lost in the alleyways, inspired by the alluring confusion of this place. There he is in the quiet piazza, setting down his sketchpad, mind swirling in the haze of yet to be visualized designs. He stops for a moment of respite. Maybe he sees all the stories, too?
 
My feet are tired. I look down at the honey leather loafers battered by the steps of the Amalfi Coast. Glancing over my shoulder, my eyes land on a cement bench. There’s a spot to sit and watch the stories unfold. Settling in uncomfortably, I look up expecting to find the same scene, the same voices, the same time and place.
 
But it’s all gone.
 
A seagull’s taunting call fills the piazza, seemingly laughing at my confusion. The church bells ring, slowly eleven times. I’m going to be late. I grab my bag and throw it over my shoulder, hurrying off across the piazza and down the steps to my own unseen future. But before going, I stop to turn and look up at the balcony, half expecting to find the old man watching me. And he’s there. As my feet carry me swiftly down the steps, I know they’re all there.

________________

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– A short story by Laura Thayer inspired by Atrani.

Positano - One of the Most Romantic Spots on the Amalfi Coast

Top 10 Romantic Spots on the Amalfi Coast

Positano - One of the Most Romantic Spots on the Amalfi Coast

A Hopeless Romantic’s Insider Tips for the Most Romantic Spots on the Amalfi Coast

If there’s one thing I love, it’s a good romance. A book, a movie, a sappy card, and I’m hooked. I’m a romantic at heart, and that’s probably why I fell in love with the Amalfi Coast. It was one of those love at first sight stories. As the years pass, I’m ever more sure that it will be a love affair that lasts a lifetime. Every nook and cranny of this beautiful coastline could easily be called romantic. Yet as a lover of all things romance, I’m sharing some of my favorite and most romantic spots on the Amalfi Coast. These are the unforgettable vistas, charming towns and dreamy beaches that you won’t want to miss if you’re planning a romantic getaway on the Amalfi Coast. Please do share the spots that are the most romantic for you in the comments!

 

Amalfi

Romantic Spots on the Amalfi Coast Guide

Amalfi is the town that is closest to my heart on the Amalfi Coast. I’ve noticed that people tend to fall in love with one town more than all the rest, and Amalfi grabbed my heart from the moment I arrived. Just meandering through town, soaking up the sun on the beach or strolling along the waterfront at sunset can still make me weak at the knees. Yet there are a few spots that are some of my favorites on the Amalfi Coast.

For a romantic and secluded day at the beach, my first choice is always the (1) Santa Croce Beach. This small, rocky beach is just a short boat ride west of Amalfi, and the boat ride there is part of the fun. We take the complimentary boat service provided by Ristorante Da Teresa and then settle in for a day under the orange umbrellas, only taking a break from the sun and swimming to enjoy a fabulous lunch overlooking the sea.

If you love hiking and nature, then spend a day exploring the (2) Valle delle Ferriere above Amalfi. As you hike into the valley above town, you’ll pass ruins of old paper mills and follow a path along a crystal clear mountain stream. Don’t forget to pack a picnic to enjoy by the stream! Then keep hiking to the very top of the valley where you’ll find a tropical oasis of waterfalls, cascading water and a landscape that feels miles away from the sunny beaches.

Looking for a romantic spot to enjoy dinner in Amalfi? My favorite is the (3) Ristorante Marina Grande, which has a fabulous location overlooking Amalfi’s main beach. Family run and casually elegant, you’ll enjoy a creative take on local dishes with the finest ingredients. It’s an excellent choice if you’re just passing through Amalfi and want a wonderful lunch or are staying in town and planning a romantic evening out.

 

Atrani

Romantic Spots on the Amalfi Coast - Atrani

Just a short stroll away from Amalfi you’ll find the picturesque little town of (4) Atrani. And when I say “little” I really mean little. By size, Atrani is the smallest town in Italy. And with less than 1,000 inhabitants and slightly off the beaten path setting, it rarely feels as crowded during the summer as some of the other towns along the Amalfi Coast. Get lost in the maze of streets that inspired the labyrinthine artwork of M.C. Escher, enjoy a day at the beach or dine by the sea with the town as your backdrop. As far as romantic spots on the Amalfi Coast go, Atrani is one of the sweetest!

 

Positano

Romantic Spots in Positano

Positano exudes romance. Every time I visit there I feel like I’m on holiday, even though I live here! There’s just something especially romantic about it, which is why it is one of the most popular honeymoon and destination wedding spots on the Amalfi Coast. Positano often tops the list of romantic spots on the Amalfi Coast, and it’s one of my favorites, too. Just walking along the beach at sunset is enough to make most people swoon. If you’re planning a romantic getaway to Positano, wander away from the crowds on the main beach over to (5) Fornillo Beach, set in a pretty cove complete with watchtowers and plenty of sunbeds and umbrellas for a relaxing day at the beach.

For a romantic splurge, book a stay at the incredible (6) Le Sirenuse Hotel in Positano. Remember that romantic movie Only You with Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr.? The pool scene was filmed at this hotel, and you’re just as likely to see a few famous faces around the pool today. If you’re just passing through Positano on a day trip, you can also enjoy the romantic setting at their Michelin-starred restaurant La Sponda or enjoy cocktails the stylish Franco’s Bar.

 

Ravello

Villa Cimbrone - Romantic Spots in Ravello

With sweeping views of the Amalfi coastline and a peaceful setting, romance and Ravello go hand in hand. For music lovers, this is the perfect location for a summer getaway on the Amalfi Coast. Plan a romantic evening out while enjoying a concert at the (7) Ravello Festival, complete with a breathtaking view of the Amalfi Coast as the backdrop. Every summer the Ravello Festival presents concerts from classical to jazz and contemporary performers from around the world, along with dance, theater and opera. A great choice for music and art lovers!

While in Ravello, don’t miss the chance to stroll through the gardens of (8) Villa Cimbrone. At the very end of the garden you’ll find the spectacular Terrace of Infinity. If you’re looking for an incredible spot to propose to your loved on the Amalfi Coast, this would be one of my top picks! Curious for more? Read more about Where to Propose on the Amalfi Coast.

If there’s one spot that gets romantic hearts dreaming, it’s the infinity pool at the (9) Hotel Caruso in Ravello. Every time I see a photo of it, I dream of spending leisurely days at that pool. Why not spoil your loved one with a dream getaway at one of the Amalfi Coast’s most romantic hotels?

 

Praiano – Marina di Praia

Romantic Beaches on the Amalfi Coast

While Praiano is a popular spot to stay on the Amalfi Coast, many people miss the charming (10) Marina di Praia beach. It’s one of my favorites on the Amalfi Coast! Tucked away in a little cove, the beach has an old world feel with its colorful boats, fishing nets and whitewashed church. You’ll find plenty of beachside restaurants to choose from as well as a walkway carved right into the mountainside. Perfect for a romantic evening stroll hand in hand!

 

I hope you have enjoyed this guide to romantic spots on the Amalfi Coast! I look forward to hearing about your favorite romantic places on the Amalfi Coast. Please do share them in the comments below!

 

 

Atrani Transformed into a Christmas Presepe

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Christmas is a magical time on the Amalfi Coast. With its colorful lights and picturesque setting, Atrani is one of the most charming spots this time of year. It feels like you’re walking right through a traditional prespe, or nativity scene. This holiday season Atrani has created a unique and modern light show that plays on that theme. The town truly feels like a presepe! The light show was inspired by a poem “Atrani è nu prisepio” (“Atrani is a Presepe”) by local writer Enzo Del Pizzo. Stars dance across the beach, the town is lit up with multi-colored lights and on the mountain above town there’s a large projection with a vintage image of Atrani and lines of poetry.

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Come along through the tunnel into the quaint piazza Umberto I, which is full of lights and such a festive feel. There was even Christmas music playing throughout the town when we visited last night!

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The steps leading up to church of San Salvatore del Birecto are like a colorful tapestry with shimmery lights around. Later when we passed by there were kids and a dog playing in the lights on the steps. It was fun to see the children interacting with the lights throughout the town!

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A large Christmas tree decorates one side of Piazza Umberto I, and it’s covered with lights that match the decorative swags on the balconies around the piazza.

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Over by the steps leading up to the Maddalena church, the arches of the Amalfi Coast Road are lit up blue with glittering lights and more lines from the poem talking about the church and seeing the characteristic arches of Atrani.

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Many of the little alleyways through town were also lit up in different colors. We had the benefit of a tour from our friend Linda who lives in Atrani. She showed us all the best spots!

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Looking down on Piazza Umberto I, you can see my favorite part of the light display on the left. It is a design by artist M.C. Escher. Why an Escher design in Atrani? The artist spent time in Ravello and on the Amalfi Coast in 1923, which was when he met the woman who would become his wife, Jetta Umiker. With its labyrinthine alleys and twists and turns, it’s not surprising that Atrani appealed to Escher, who was inspired and made many drawings in the area.

The design in Atrani’s light display this year is from Escher’s work Metamorphasis II, where birds transform into cubes and then eventually into the town of Atrani. You can catch a glimpse of the lights (and soccer game) in action in the short video clip below.

If you are on the Amalfi Coast this Christmas, stop by Atrani to see the fun light display. You can also find out more about the tradition of Christmas nativities and see some in the fountains of Amalfi here!

Amalfi Coast Travel

Don’t Forget to Turn Around

Amalfi Coast Travel

I’m a fairly forward thinking person. I’ve never been one to spend a great deal of time reflecting or get stuck in the past. The truth? I’m a perpetual motion machine perplexed by people who have the time to be bored. (I mean seriously? With so much to learn and read and do?) But sometimes I do listen to that little voice that whispers, “Just turn around.” That’s when I caught this image of Atrani infused with blue. What a moment. It’s so easy to hurry about through life, especially if you’re like me and constantly looking ahead, working on or excited about what comes next. When I take a photo that resonates with me, it’s often because it’s telling me something. This one says, “Don’t forget to turn around.”

Snow on the Amalfi Coast!

Amalfi Coast Travel Snow December 2014

– A glorious snowy sunrise on the Amalfi Coast

We woke up to the most beautiful surprise this morning. Snow on the Amalfi Coast! What an incredible way to remember the last day of 2014. While we occasionally get snow up in the mountains during the winter, I could tell this was a special snow. I could see snow on the beach in Atrani and snow by the red faro in Amalfi. This was really a snow!

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A snowy Villa Cimbrone in Ravello

The ruins of the Church of Sant’ Eustachio in Scala had a dusting of snow and way down in Amalfi by the sea the bell tower of San Biagio was also white. In the photo below, far on the left, you’ll even see snow on the pier that juts out into the port. My husband says it has been about 30 years since there was snow on the beach in Amalfi!

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The ruins of Sant’Eustachio and snow in Pontone

We watched the few brave drivers out slowly … very slowly … navigating the road down from Ravello. That’s a tough stretch of road even in good weather. I couldn’t imagine trying to drive that road this morning!

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Snow falling this morning

And if you look closely in the photo below you’ll see a snow covered beach in Atrani. It was still snowing when I took this photo and it wasn’t until after that I noticed the white beach.

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Snow on the beach in Atrani!

But I think the prettiest view of all was the snowy scene in Scala. The snow-covered terraces on the mountains above the village created stripes as the backdrop to the winter scene. It was like a postcard winter setting!

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A wintry scene in Scala

Of course I had to go out. I waited just a bit and thankfully there was a short break in the strong wind. It was still -3 C, but without the wind and bundled up it wasn’t too bad for a short walk.

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Out I go!

Crunching up and down the steps in the snow was a little more challenging than usual, but the beautiful view and quiet scenes were well worth the effort.

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A winter walk in the snow

I love the way a dusting of snow changes everything. I suppose that is especially the case in places where it doesn’t snow all that often like the Amalfi Coast.

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Mr. Fountain in the snow

I couldn’t take many photos of the view across the valley to Ravello since a gust of wind arrived that nearly knocked me off my feet and set me crunching through the snow back home.

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The valley between Scala and Ravello in the snow

Winters on the Amalfi Coast require boots that are good for the rain and cold weather … and sometimes even the snow!

Amalfi Coast Travel Snow Boots

Crunch crunch crunch …

Before going back inside I had one more mission … find Puffy! He’s one of our outside cats who spends the day inside. It took a few times calling him before he came out of hiding. He’s a smart cat though, and was completely dry.

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Is there anything cuter than a fluffy orange cat in the snow?

He was ready to come inside and warm up though! He’s all curled up and toasty now.

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Puffy in the snow!

Seeing Puffy in the snow reminded me of the last time we had a bigger snow like this, which was in 2009. Puffy was only about a year old and had so much fun trying to catch snowflakes.

I hope the last day of 2014 brings you many beautiful surprises!