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Francesco Clemente’s Standing with Truth for Ravello 2017

In Italy, you can’t help but experience modernity within the context of the past. What is new is quite literally enveloped in what came before. But isn’t that what it should always be like? During my Washington, DC days, I was struck by a quotation from Shakespeare’s The Tempest that is carved at the base of a statue outside the National Archives. “What is past is prologue,” it reads. In a place like the Amalfi Coast, protected as it is thanks to its UNESCO World Heritage Site status, the visual landscape is a narrative that has continued unbroken from the past.

In a place with centuries of history such as the Villa Rufolo in Ravello, it’s possible to walk through its history, starting practically at the prologue in the 12th century and continuing to today. It is within this historic surrounding that a thoroughly modern exhibit has been placed this summer. As part of this year’s Ravello Festival, the show Standing with Truth for Ravello 2017 is a site-specific installation created by Neapolitan born artist Francesco Clemente in one of the Villa Rufolo’s atmospheric spots.

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The exhibit is situated in the courtyard and what was once a chapel at the Villa Rufolo. It’s a quiet and reflective setting – perfect for art exhibitions. The courtyard is flanked by two rows of bright red flags painted with symbols at once captivating and dark. A clenched fist holds colorful flowers. A sickle, broken at its base, cuts into a bleeding heart. Two strange creatures embrace. Images with an intensity that evokes a struggle.

Stepping inside the chapel, the narrative continues with a large tent entirely hand painted in tempura. The exhibition notes point out that it’s the type of tent characterized by Asian nomad shepherds. A tent as shelter, a tent as a symbol of changing places. This exhibition is themed around the idea of walls and migration – timely topics in today’s political climate around the world. Clemente has been working with the idea of tents since his ENCAMPMENT series that started about 5 years ago.

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This is a tent you can walk into, explore and experience. I happened to be there at a moment when there were no other visitors and it was a fascinating visual experience. There are ancient symbols, animals and faces that reminded me of Picasso’s Rose Period. The colors are vividly warm and I found myself creating my own narratives as I wandered around inside.

What stories do you see?

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Peering out from inside the tent, you can see the walls lined with a series of watercolors by Clemente that are on display for the first time.

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Getting up close to these watercolors, it was possible to see the incredible texture and labor that went into their design. Just look at the design in the concentric circles and the red border below. The works were full of intricate details that are exotic and traditional, playing on the theme different cultures blending together.

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Leaving the chapel, the harsh red flags reveal softer pastel color scheme with messages embroidered in gold thread. As they say, there are two sides to every story, and these flags fluttering in a summer breeze were reminders of that.

One tie-died flag caught my eye in particular. It says, “Il piu moderno qui è anche il piu’ arcaico.” That translates to: “The most modern here is also the most archaic.” Framed by the arched entrance to the chapel courtyard, it perfectly captured the setting of this contemporary art exhibit in the 12th-century ruins of the Villa Rufolo.

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It was also the catalyst for my reflections on this exhibition. If what is past is prologue, we carry not only who we were in the past with us as we move forward in life, but we also carry with us our family, back to our remotest ancestors in far flung parts of the world we have yet to even imagine. We carry that with us as we go forward, sometimes moving countries, meeting new people, making new families. We are ancient and modern all at once, just like the landscapes we move through.

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Standing with Truth for Ravello 2017 is on display at the Villa Rufolo through the end of September. Entrance to the exhibit is included when you purchase your ticket for the Villa Rufolo. More details available at www.villarufolo.com.

 

Italy Blogging Roundtable

Italy Roundtable
This blog post is part of a series called The Italy Blogging Roundtable. Every month our group of Italy based writers takes on a new theme, and you can read the contributions for this month’s topic – Modern – at the links below. We’d love to hear your thoughts and comments. Please share the stores if you’ve enjoyed them!

ArtTrav

At Home in Tuscany

Bleeding Espresso

Brigolante

Italy ExplainedWhere to See Modern & Contemporary Art in Italy

Girl in Florence

Italofile

 

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Italy Roundtable: The Rush of the Strange and Unfamiliar

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This month’s Italy Roundtable topic “foreign” brought in a host of interesting topics from the group – all thoughtful, reflective and informative. Be sure to check them all out at the links below! While I am a foreigner living in Italy, there’s another aspect of the word “foreign” that has been rattling around in the back of my mind this week. The secondary meaning of the word is listed as “strange and unfamiliar.” Dictionary example: “I suppose this all feels pretty foreign to you.” Now that sounds about right! It got me thinking. When was the last time you experienced something foreign? There’s a thrill that comes from the strange and unfamiliar. It means stepping out of your comfort zone, whatever the experience might be.

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I don’t know about you, but I thrive in the strange and unfamiliar. Not that I go in search of it. I’m certainly not an adventure seeking sort of person. Perhaps more of the sort that enjoys finding the adventure in everyday life. Whatever it is, I find that I am the happiest when I have quite literally no idea what I’m doing. It probably started with when I fell in love with studying ancient Greek in college. That was remarkable. Then there was that time I was a data analyst for Fannie Mae. (Seriously.) Or when I decided to study art history in graduate school and called up my mom to ask, “Hey, Mom, so I have to include a research paper with my application. What’s a research paper?” Then there was the time 10 years ago when I moved to Italy without speaking any Italian. Or when I started freelance writing and editing. The land of “strange and unfamiliar” is my home.

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So why the wisteria? Well it’s pretty. Besides that, it represents a moment I had recently that reminded me how important those strange and the unfamiliar moments are in our lives. Sure a trip to a new country around the world is exciting, but how can you get out of your comfort zone right now, right where you’re at? When I went to Positano earlier this month to see the wisteria, I decided to make some video clips so I could start learning how to use iMovie. It may have taken me a few weeks to finish that video, but when I uploaded it to YouTube yesterday, I had a rush. There it was. Something strange and unfamiliar. I have quite literally no idea how to make movies, and yet there I go putting one out to the world to see. It’s nothing special. I have a lot to learn. But what is special is that incredible experience of doing something strange and unfamiliar!

Go out and try something foreign this week – a new restaurant, a new drink at your local coffee shop, a new way to drive to work, a new genre that you usually don’t read, a new craft, a new recipe, a different type of creative endeavor. Don’t worry if it doesn’t work out. Let me know how it felt to experience something foreign!

 

Italy Blogging Roundtable

Italy Roundtable
This blog post is part of a series called The Italy Blogging Roundtable. Every month our group of Italy based writers takes on a new theme, and you can read the contributions for this month’s topic – Foreign – at the links below. We’d love to hear your thoughts and comments. Please share the stores if you’ve enjoyed them!

ArtTravRefugees in Tuscany: New Book Questions Preconceptions

At Home in TuscanyForeigners in Tuscany

Italy ExplainedThe 5 Letters of the Alphabet Banned by Mussolini

Girl in Florence50 Shades of “Foreign” in Florence, Italy

ItalofileFrom Foreign Language to Lingua Franca: Italian Immersion Programs in Italy

 

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Is This Your Cat?

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From the moment I met our cat Toulouse, it has been an adventure. This furry little guy arrived one Monday morning three and a half years ago, when someone buzzed at our gate and asked, “Is this your cat?” When I looked at the orange and white fuzzball with impossibly big ears, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. It wasn’t very many hours before the adventure began, when this little kitten was attacked in front of our eyes by another cat and left for dead. We rushed him to the vet and I helped nurse him back to life. You can read all about that adventurous Monday here.

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It took some time for Toulouse to get his name. But to give you an idea of his playful nature, his first nickname was “Bitey McBite.” While it took awhile for just the right name to arrive, it took no time at all for him to work his way into our hearts. This little nutcase has been non stop craziness and fun since he could get around again. He is my constant companion and writing buddy. He makes me laugh so many times every time. He brought a smile to my face during some very tough times over the last few years. How could you not laugh at a kitten hiding inside fruit bag?

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Toulouse recovered well in all areas, except one of his front legs. He had suffered too much nerve damage to that leg and couldn’t move it much. So after having him for about 6 months, we made the big decision to have that leg amputated. And boy was he brave! I shared about that story here. Although in retrospect, I think the whole adventure was more traumatizing for us than for him. He never looked back … and has been rocking three legs ever since!

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We’ve had more adventures along the way with Toulouse (look up “twitchy cat syndrome” sometime if you’re truly bored), but I couldn’t image our life without this cat. And even though he sometimes gets annoyed with Toulouse, I suspect his big brother Puffy feels the same way.

Puffy and Toulouse

So now, after three and a half years and many adventures, I can answer with certainty, “Yes, that is my cat!”

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Animals definitely have a way of coming into our lives in unexpected ways. How have pets changed your life? I’d love to hear your stories!

 

 

 

Italy Blogging Roundtable

italy-blogging-roundtable
This blog post is part of a series called The Italy Blogging Roundtable. Every month our group of Italy based writers takes on a new theme, and you can read the contributions for this month’s topic – Pets – at the links below. We’d love to hear your thoughts and comments. Please share the stores if you’ve enjoyed them!

BrigolanteOf Dogs and Death

Italy ExplainedCaesar’s Cats

Trattoria da Lorenzo in Scala with View of Ravello

Trattoria da Lorenzo | Excellent Seafood Restaurant Overlooking Ravello

Trattoria da Lorenzo in Scala with View of Ravello

Trattoria da Lorenzo in Scala

For this month’s Italy Roundtable theme of Flavor, I’d like to share with you one of my favorite restaurants on the Amalfi Coast – Trattoria da Lorenzo. You’ll find it in Scala, just across the valley from Ravello. This restaurant has all the charms of a trattoria—friendly, family-run atmosphere and a lovely, rustic setting—but with a cuisine that you’ll be talking about long after your holiday! Add to that beautiful outdoor dining terrace with a view of Ravello and you can see why it’s one of my top choices for dining on the Amalfi Coast.

Lorenzo gives a hearty and warm greeting when you arrive, and is always on hand to help with menu suggestions and offer the best choices for the day. And since Trattoria da Lorenzo specializes in seafood, it’s a great idea to hear what the freshest options are direct from Lorenzo or his son Luca. Of course, for non seafood lovers, there are always options on hand, too!

Trattoria da Lorenzo in Scala Wine List

There’s also an excellent wine list, which includes choices from local wineries on the Amalfi Coast in Ravello, Tramonti and Furore. My recommendation would be to start out with their wonderful antipasto mix. Soon your table will be full of little plates full of seafood dishes to try – all cooked in a traditional Amalfi Coast manner. After that there are wonderful pasta and main course dishes with seafood options to choose from … if you still have room! I’ve never managed to get a photo of the delicious pasta dishes we’ve had at Trattoria da Lorenzo. I’m always far too excited to eat them when they arrive.

Trattoria da Lorenzo Seafood Restaurant Near Ravello

One of the charms of Trattoria da Lorenzo is its setting in Scala. If you haven’t explored this quiet little town, it is Ravello’s peaceful next door neighbor. The whole town has a much more rustic, mountain feel compared to Ravello. This is one of the reasons I love it so much. You’ll enjoy this vibe at Trattoria da Lorenzo, which feels like you’re stepping into a home setting from the moment you walk into the garden.

Trattoria da Lorenzo Charming Entrance

There’s a small dining area inside and a larger outdoor terrace at Trattoria da Lorenzo. This is the place for a lovely outdoor dining experience. They’re even well equipped with blankets should the evening be a little chilly.

Trattoria da Lorenzo Rustic Style Building

The restaurant entrance opens to a beautiful garden with a sitting area underneath olive trees. At night the area is lit by white lights in the olive trees, adding the perfect romantic touch! With this great indoor and outdoor setting, Trattoria da Lorenzo is also a great spot if you’re planning a private family gathering, ceremony or event.

Trattoria da Lorenzo Garden with Olive Trees

Trattoria da Lorenzo is open seasonally from Tuesday to Sunday, but it’s always best to call in advance for reservations. Or you can make a reservation online here.

Trattoria da Lorenzo in Scala

Trattoria da Lorenzo
www.trattoriadalorenzo.com
Via Fra Gerardo Sasso 21
Scala, Italy
Tel: 089 858290

 

Italy Blogging Roundtable

italy-blogging-roundtable
This blog post is part of a monthly series called The Italy Blogging Roundtable. Every month our group of Italy based writers takes on a new theme. You can read the contributions for this month’s topic – Flavor – at the links below. We’d love to hear your thoughts and comments. Please share the stores if you’ve enjoyed them!

Bleeding EspressoFlavors of Calabria: Amarelli Licorice 

Brigolante – Local Flavor: Best Restaurants in Assisi

Girl in Florence – Barely Bigger Than A Breath, Tiny Spaces That Pack A Punch in Florence

ItalofileFive Favorite Flavors From Ferrara and Modena

Italy Explained7 of Italy’s Weirdest Foods

Get Your Move On in Positano with a Yoga Retreat!

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(Photo courtesy Sole Yoga Holidays)

Winter has settled in on the Amalfi Coast, which means we’re in the height of the bundled up inside dreaming of summer season. As much as my body tells me to get outside and MOVE after the holidays, which are celebrated here in southern Italy with a lot of food, the cold wind and snow-capped mountains remind me that it’s might be a less than pleasurable experience. While I wait for the first signs of spring to arrive, there’s only one place my mind wanders if I let it float off down the Amalfi coastline for awhile. It ends up high above Positano doing yoga with a wonderful group of people in the most breathtaking of places. This place:

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Snap snap … come back mind! Last year I shared about my time at this incredible Amalfi Coast Yoga Retreat in Paradise, and it was absolutely one of my top experiences of 2016 and one of my favorite in my 10 years living on the Amalfi Coast. This retreat has been lovingly created by yoga teacher and Amalfi Coast enthusiast Shari Hochberg, who owns Sole Yoga Holidays. Shari adores Positano and this shines through in her entire retreat, which is situated in the rustic eco-resort La Selva that is set in the mountains above town surrounded by peaceful terraced gardens. If you want to get away from it all while still being a short hike from Positano – this is your heaven!

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Imagine joining a group of fun-loving yogis for daily Ashtanga flow yoga on that outdoor platform or in a beautiful room surrounded by nature, all with the Amalfi Coast as the backdrop. Then there’s the beautiful organic meals prepared from locally grown products. We couldn’t wait to see what was on the menu each day! Everything was so fresh and rejuvinating – full of the Amalfi Coast sunshine.

For the group, Shari also organizes a boat trip around Capri, a relaxing day at the beach in Positano and includes extras like handmade sandals in Positano. At La Selva and in the mountains surrounding the eco-resort there are also options for hiking and rock climbing for the more adventurous. The peaceful setting above Positano is absolutely idyllic –  perfect for a yoga retreat to recharge and reinvigorate the soul while surrounded by the beauty of the Amalfi Coast!

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(Photo courtesy Sole Yoga Holidays)

After the fun I had last year joining the retreat for a couple of days (which weren’t enough!), I knew I had to share more about this unique experience that Shari has created. Because I know that if you love the Amalfi Coast and love yoga – this is something you won’t want to miss!

This was the inspiration behind my new Amalfi Coast Experiences page on Ciao Amalfi. This Positano Yoga Retreat is the first of many wonderful local experiences that I look forward to sharing with you this year!

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If you’ve been thinking of a summer holiday this year on the Amalfi Coast, mark your calendars for July 30th – August 5th, 2017 for an incredible week of yoga in Positano. BONUS! Shari is offering a special gift for Ciao Amalfi readers, too! Just enter my code “CIAOAMALFI” when you BOOK your Positano yoga retreat to receive a special €100 euro discount + a natural cosmetic gift made right at La Selva!*

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I couldn’t imagine a more stunning way to expand your yoga practice, get moving in 2017, make new friends, enjoy fabulous organic meals and, of course, those panoramic views of the Amalfi Coast. I hope I’ll see you in Positano this year for the Sole Yoga Holidays Positano Retreat!

 

 

Italy Blogging Roundtable

italy-blogging-roundtable
This blog post is part of a series called The Italy Blogging Roundtable. Every month our group of Italy based writers takes on a new theme, and you can read the contributions for this month’s topic – Move – at the links below. We’d love to hear your thoughts and comments. Please share the stores if you’ve enjoyed them!

ArtTravThe Cost of Living in Italy: My Annual Budget

Bleeding Espresso10 Dos & Don’ts of Moving to Calabria

Girl in FlorenceWhy Moving To Florence Might Not Be The Best Idea For You

ItalofileBefore Considering a Move to Italy, Consult This Quality of Life Index

Italy ExplainedMoving Lets the Light Get In

 

 

*Not to be used with any other offer or discount. Please review the Sole Yoga Holidays policy for information.