Buon San Valentino!

Sunshine in Amalfi for Valentine's Day

Sunshine in Amalfi for Valentine's Day

After hearing the weather predictions for this week, we never expected such a glorious day with sunshine and bright blue skies for Valentine’s Day. What a pleasant surprise … the perfect setting for love! After lunch in Amalfi we were strolling along the port and I recalled an email a reader sent me last week about the best places to propose on the Amalfi Coast. It made me smile to think that somewhere along the coastline with this beautiful sunshine he was proposing to his girlfriend. I hope she said yes!

San Valentino Boat Amalfi

This boat should be called the S. Valentino!

Wishing you a very special day however you may be celebrating or not celebrating. Sunshine and warmth in the winter are always reasons to celebrate!

The New Year

Amalfi Harbor New Year's Day 2013

The harbor of Amalfi on New Year's Day 2013

The beginning of a new year is always a special time – for reflection, for a pause in the hubbub of daily life and for hope for the year ahead. Even though it’s just one of the many days each year, it still feels something like a blank canvas or that crisp, empty page of a new notebook. Boy there’s nothing I love more than the possibilities of a new notebook. While any old notebook will do if the main purpose is simply filling the pages, there’s something extra special about a beautiful notebook. Just like there’s something extra special in the air when the new year starts with a clear blue sky. A moment to be treasured.

Amalfi Marina Grande Beach January 2013

At the beach in Amalfi on New Year's Day!

This year New Year’s Day arrived with a brilliant blue sky and warmer than average temperatures on the Amalfi Coast. Before joining family for the traditional New Year’s Day lunch, we enjoyed the sunshine and the start of the new year in Amalfi. There were people already soaking up the sun on the beach and even a few brave swimmers testing the water. And with the exquisite colors of the sea in the winter you can hardly blame them. It is oh so tempting!

Amalfi Turquoise Sea New Year's Day 2013

The clear, turquoise winter sea in Amalfi on New Year's Day

After a late night watching the spectacular New Year’s Eve fireworks in Amalfi, a walk on such a beautiful day was the perfect way to start the new day and the new year. Following the road from Amalfi we headed toward the neighboring village of Atrani. Along the way is the medieval watchtower that is now a part of the Hotel Luna.

Amalfi Hotel Luna Watchtower January 2013

The Hotel Luna watchtower in Amalfi

Atrani was looking sleepy and very lovely on New Year’s Day. There was an air of quiet everywhere as the villages awoke to a glorious start to the new year.

Atrani January 2013

Atrani on New Year's Day 2013

Around the corner past Atrani lies the beach of Castiglione down a winding staircase of a couple hundred steps. It’s a very popular beach in the summer, and even a few people were enjoying the sunshine on New Year’s Day this year.

Ravello Castiglione Beach January 2013

A secluded winter beach on the Amalfi Coast

If you’re used to cold water temperatures you can still enjoy a swim in the sea during the winter months on the Amalfi Coast. While there are some locals that swim nearly every day and tourists that brave the cold, it’s not my cup of tea. I’m an admirer of the sea from afar in the winter, which is when I think the colors are the most beautiful. This vivid turquoise is just incredible!

Swimming on the Amalfi Coast January 2013

Anyone for a swim?

I hope your new year is off to a brilliant and happy start! Wishing you a peaceful year ahead filled with many tales to recount in your blank notebook.

Christmas Eve Fireworks in Amalfi

If you’ve spent time exploring the little side streets and alleys in Amalfi, you’ll have quickly learned that there are a lot of stairs to get pretty much anywhere. A lot. Late on Christmas Eve we worked off the big dinner by climbing about 200 steps to meet some good friends for a drink while waiting for midnight. What were we waiting for? No, not the new year!

After the late mass, the beautiful bronze doors of Amalfi’s Duomo are opened and a procession leads out to the top of the staircase. At midnight many churches and families across Italy celebrate the birth of Jesus by placing the bambino in the nativity scene. In Amalfi, a symbolic star is lit with sparkling fireworks at midnight and a fireworks display is set off over the Piazza Duomo in the center of Amalfi. This is the moment Christmas truly begins!

The Christmas Eve fireworks are just a tiny sample compared to what the city does for New Year’s Eve. All the stops are pulled for the most impressive fireworks display of the year on the Amalfi Coast. Wishing you all a very happy New Year’s Eve and peaceful 2013!

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

Regata delle Antiche Repubbliche Marinare | Amalfi 2012

Historic Parade in Amalfi Regata 2012

Every four years a very special day happens in Amalfi. There are many days to be in Amalfi, but this is the day to be in Amalfi. The distinctive Amalfi blue flags with white crosses are the first sign that something special is about to happen. The city is festooned with the beautiful flags leading up to the Regata delle Antiche Repubbliche Marinare, or the Regatta of the Historic Maritime Republics of Italy, which took place in Amalfi on June 3rd, 2012. Started in 1956, this annual event brings together Italy’s four historic sea republics of the Middle Ages to compete in a race of 12th-century style boats. Venice, Pisa, Genoa and Amalfi send the best team to hopefully bring home the trophy. The day starts with an impressive historic parade representing a key moment in the history of each city. The costumes are brilliant and many original or based on the original designs from the 50s. The parade begins in Atrani and follows the road around by the medieval watchtower into Amalfi. I caught the parade right in front of the watchtower where it was a little windy. Nonetheless, the flag throwers put on a great show!

After the parade, everyone jostles to find the perfect spot to watch the boat race. All eyes are on the sea as the teams row out to the starting point west of Amalfi. We hurried up the stairs to join friends on the balcony of the Hotel Luna Convento (by the way, gorgeous views!) to watch the race. The streets and piers and balconies all over Amalfi are packed with onlookers ready to cheer on their team. The harbor is full of boats and once the race starts the four teams are followed by a crowd of boats behind.

Regata delle Antiche Repubbliche Marinare Amalfi 2012

From our vantage point near the finish line, it looked like the Amalfi team got off to a slow start. As the boats came closer to Amalfi and the finish line the Amalfi team was clearly behind, almost in third at one point. Oh, but it takes more than that to bring the Amalfitans down! The energy was amazing with the entire town yelling, “Vai, vai, vai!!!” (Go, go, go!!) And then something that will be talked about for many many many years to come happened. Yes, it was that epic. Watch the last 50 seconds of the Regata in the video below and you can see it with your own eyes. Fifty seconds before the end of the race the Amalfi team was in second or third. (They’re the second boat from the left.) I was even panning over to show Amalfi when I heard someone nearby shout something about them catching up. I turned back to see that they really were! The team came through in the last 20 seconds for an amazing photo finish win! I’d like to think it was the energy of the Amalfitans that helped them do it. Watch for yourselves!

Toward the end you’ll even here me saying over and over again, almost in disbelief, “They can do it!” Then there was silence. Who had won? It didn’t take long for the judges to view the photo finish and announce the winner … and the city erupted in cheers from the land and from the sea when the Amalfi team found out then won. Some of the team jumped into the water and the cheering and horn blowing on the boats was deafening. Some deep and resonating, some like fire sirens wailing, pierced by air horns and car horns and fireworks. Naturally, someone on another boat came prepared with a huge bottle of champagne to shower the team with during the celebrations. Look closely in my video and you’ll spot that below.

What an experience! It’s hard to capture the emotions in Amalfi this day, but it was something I’ve never felt before. In 2008, during the last Regata in Amalfi, the Amalfi team came in last. Let me just tell you, the atmosphere was pretty different this year! While they were presenting the trophies, we snuck through the crowds to get a closer look at the four beautiful boats used for the race. Each one features the colors of the four cities, blue for Amalfi, green for Venice, red for Pisa and white for Genoa. The prow of every boat has a distinctive figure, and Amalfi’s is a pegasus with menacing eyes. Just look there, that’s the nose that the Amalfi team won by!

Historical Regata Boats in Amalfi 2012

To see all of my photos from this spectacular day, view the slide show below. (Click in the lower right to view it full screen.) Click here to view the photos on Flickr where you can read more comments about each photo.

The Regata delle Antiche Repubbliche Marinare rotates between Amalfi, Pisa, Venice and Genoa, and usually takes place the first Sunday in June. Whether you see it in Amalfi or one of the other cities (while root for Amalfi, obviously!), it’s an amazing experience. I hope you’ll be there cheering in four years when the Regata returns to Amalfi!