Happy Thanksgiving from the Amalfi Coast!

Thanksgiving on the Amalfi Coast

Happy Thanksgiving wishes!

On this Thanksgiving Day we woke up to find a beautiful sunny morning after nearly a week of overcast, windy and rainy weather. What a way to start the day, with a lovely reminder of how much there is to be grateful for each and every morning! For all of my family and friends celebrating in America and around the world, may this be a beautiful, peaceful and very happy Thanksgiving!

xoxo

Laura

Finding Home on the Amalfi Coast

Home on the Amalfi CoastIt doesn’t take long to feel at home on the Amalfi Coast. I imagine many travelers experience the same feeling of familiarity and comfort when they first arrive, just as I did in February 2007 when I first visited Amalfi. There’s a warmth, openness and curiosity for foreigners in many of the locals on the Amalfi Coast, which is an undeniable part of that welcoming feeling so many people find here.

Speaking only a few words of Italy, it was certainly very welcome to me when I started spending more time on the Amalfi Coast! With a smile and a few words scribbled down in Italian on a piece of paper, shopping soon became a little less scary as the lady in the shop nicely corrected my pronunciation of “CI-polla” to “ci-POlla” when I needed onions. I didn’t understand anything anyone said to me, but slowly I began to learn a few words.

It was hard, however, not to feel like an outsider when I didn’t know how to do simple things that I’ve never had to put much thought into before, like interpreting the bus schedule or buying herbs at the market. Every expat goes through these feelings, I believe, and I imagine everyone deals with them in different ways as well. I chose to focus on the little victories – the first time I got up the nerve to go into the butcher on my own, the first time I carried out a transaction at the post office in Italian, the first time I felt confident enough to start up a conversation with a stranger, actually being able to figure out that blasted bus schedule. With each success, I felt a little more at home.

I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on that very feeling. What is it that makes a person feel at home? It’s a familiarity that comes only with time, but it’s something much more than simply living in a place for a certain period of time. For me, it has more to do with the way a place resonates within you through its sights, sounds and scents. Whether it’s the “invisible scent of lingering lilacs,” as it was for Proust, or simply the comforting view of the street where you grew up playing and laughing as a child, its those very personal experiences and memories that define home.

But, more than anything, I’m starting to realize that home is where you’re happy. Yesterday evening I was out running some errands on the motorino before coming home. As I was riding along a beautiful road in Ravello overlooking the Amalfi coastline, I saw very clearly how, without even realizing it, my life has become interwoven into the panorama of daily life here. That even though I’m still a foreigner, I have started nevertheless to find my place. I smiled as a swerved around a vigilessa (a local policewoman in charge of traffic and city regulations) who had stopped in the middle of the road to take a picture of a nicely dressed couple with the stunning backdrop of the Amalfi Coast behind them. I smiled and beeped the horn as I passed Gaetano, who sells the sweetest peaches I’ve ever tasted. Around the next corner came a tilting Piaggio Ape, one of those tiny three-wheeled Italian vehicles, loaded at least twice its width and three times its  height with bales of hay. I laughed out load hoping that he would make it to wherever he was going with all that hay.

This is it, I thought. It doesn’t have to be complicated or philosophical or romantic or any of the thoughts that have been going around and around in my mind lately. Although I read Michelle Fabio’s words back in February this year, they suddenly clicked. “It really is the simple, stupid,” I thought. As I parked the motorino and walked down the steps to home, I smiled realizing that I had already found my home on the Amalfi Coast without really even knowing it.

Just in time!

Tea!

One of the things every expat must learn is how to deal with missing those every day items that you love. Or, more importantly, figuring out how to get them where you live! As a tea drinker, I’m in the minority here in espresso drinking Italy. While you can find many different types of tea in the supermarkets, I haven’t found replacements for my favorite green tea and my favorite earl grey tea yet. Last week, I used the last tea bag of the Yogi Green Tea Kombucha that I love, and I’ve been avoiding thinking about earl grey tea since my loose leaf bag was running woefully short. Imagine my joy  today when I opened this lovely box from my mom stuffed full of my two favorite teas. Phew … just in time!

Grazie mille, mamma!!!

Happy Thanksgiving from the Amalfi Coast!

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Autumn Scala

While Thanksgiving Day isn’t a holiday in Italy, many Italians do know about the holiday. Here it is called il giorno del ringraziamento, which literally translates as “the day of  thanksgiving.” As an expat, it is always hard to be away from family on important holidays. I feel this even more so when those holidays aren’t celebrated here in Italy. The first years I was here in Italy we didn’t do much to celebrate Thanksgiving. Why would I go to all the work to cook a big meal to celebrate a holiday that only had significance to me? Last year on Thanksgiving I realized exactly why I would this year – because it’s enough that the holiday is important to me! Part of being an expat is finding the balance between old traditions and new ones, and holidays are some of the most meaningful traditions to remember each year.

This year I’ll be preparing a traditional Thanksgiving dinner … or at least as close as I can make one here in Italy. We’ll be having turkey, cranberries (brought from America!), homemade stuffing,  mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. The pie is a special treat made by some our of very good friends who will be joining us for dinner. And just to throw things off a bit, Thanksgiving this year will be over the weekend. What did I tell you about old traditions and new ones?!

Wishing everyone … in Italy, America and wherever you may be celebrating  … a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!