My 7 Links Project on the Amalfi Coast

It’s been quite a busy summer for me, and that means it has been hard to keep up with many of my friends in the blogosphere. I smiled when I saw that Lisa from Wanderlust Women Travel tagged me recently in the My 7 Links Project started by Tripbase. If you haven’t heard about it yet, it’s a fun idea that is pulling together an impressive list of bloggers of all kinds! It was a fun project thinking back over the 2 1/2 years now that I’ve been writing Ciao Amalfi. Here are my 7 Links in the categories selected by Tripbase:

1. Most Beautiful Post

The post that comes to mind immediately is the one that pulls my heart the strongest. If you didn’t catch it last week, I invite you to read about my experiences Finding Home on the Amalfi Coast.

2. Most Popular Post

I don’t keep stats for very long on Ciao Amalfi, but lately the post that’s been getting the most hits has been an oldie on one of my favorite churches in Campania, the Church of Santo Stefano on Capri.

Church of Santo Stefano Capri

Facade of Santo Stefano Church on Capri

3. Most Controversial

I don’t think I actually do controversial, so this is a tough one! I do believe one of the only times I’ve expressed a negative opinion on Ciao Amalfi was back in the spring of 2009 about the New Ticket Booths in Amalfi. For the record, I still don’t like them.

4. Most Helpful

Not long ago I wrote about the Summer Religious Festivals on the Amalfi Coast, which is the first in a serious of posts I have planned about religious festivals, sagre and events on the Amalfi Coast. Stay tuned!

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Festival of Sant'Antonio Statue

Festival of Sant' Antonio in Atrani

5. A Post Whose Success Surprised Me

I didn’t have a clue about the story behind it or the widespread popularity when I wrote about the Love Locks in Salerno back in 2009. I love learning new tidbits about Italian culture!

6. A Post Which Didn’t Get the Attention it Deserved

I can’t get enough of how fabulous it is to finally have transportation here with my new motorino … and recently I took a ride On the Scooter Around Scala.

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Motorino Ravello View

View of Ravello from Scala

7. Post I’m Most Proud Of

Last year I mused about time passing and those little things that you hold on to along the way in my post Every Sunday Evening. I was honoured to win the Blogging from the Boot contest in 2010 for the Buon Viaggio category for this post!

______________________

And now comes the fun part of nominating some of my friends around the blogosphere to take part in the 7 Links Project. Head over and say “ciao” to these lovely ladies!

Anne in Oxfordshire because we both share a love of Paris…

Pat from Sicily Scene for making me smile by leaving such sweet comments on Ciao Amalfi …

Valerie from 2 Baci in a Pinon Tree for always inspiring me …

Annika from dove mi porta il cuore for sharing my love of Amalfi …

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.

On the Scooter Around Scala

Scooter and View of Amalfi Coast from Scala

Last week I rode my motorino to Ravello for a haircut at my favorite salon on the Amalfi Coast – Total Hair Design by Gerardo. It was a beautiful morning and instead of heading directly home, I decided to enjoy the sunny weather and ride the scooter all the way around the road that circles through the town of Scala. With a lot of curves and steep roads and hardly no traffic, it’s a great ride. Oh, did I mention the views are outstanding? This is the first spot I pulled over, where there is a lovely view across the valley looking over to Ravello.

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Motorino Ravello View

I took the chance to finally take a few photos of the Liberty motorino we bought last month. It’s been so much fun to learn to ride, and I love the freedom of being able to get to market, do shopping and get a haircut without having to plan half a day just to walk there!

Piaggio Liberty Amalfi Coast

Even though the scooter is about 10 years old, it’s in pretty good shape and it runs very well. It’s perfect for getting around the Amalfi Coast, without going so crazy for parking!

Duomo of Scala

I stopped along the drive to take a few photos. Above you can see the Duomo of Scala and across the valley is Ravello. On a less humid day you can even spot the beach in Maiori from this high in Scala!

Duomo of Ravello

When I stopped again, I could spot the Duomo of Ravello and the town’s main piazza just across the valley (above). Just minutes before I had crossed that piazza on my way to Gerardo’s!

Scala Amalfi Coast

Scala has six hamlets spread out across the side of the mountain, and it’s a beautiful and peaceful little town to explore. I love how quiet it is, especially after being in the late morning crowds of visitors in Ravello. It was a beautiful ride on the scooter, and one I would highly recommend if you rent a scooter while visiting the Amalfi Coast.

Laura on the Scooter

You didn’t actually think you’d get a picture of the new haircut after it had been smushed under a helmet, did you? Let’s just say it’s really short and makes the “helmet hair” situation a lot less noticeable! One of these days I’ll get a photo of me on the motorino without the helmet. But right now … I’m off for another ride!

Liberty … At Last!

For those of you who have been following this blog for the past two years, you’ve read about the many … many … many walks I go on. While I do love walking and exploring the Amalfi Coast on foot, there are times when it is inconvenient—or downright exhausting—having my own two feet and the public SITA buses as my only sources of transportation. I really don’t like (and that’s putting it politely) driving manual transmission cars, and my driving lessons on the Amalfi Coast have been less than successful. My life changed dramatically a week ago when we bought … a motorino! (That’s Italian for scooter.) And could it have a more appropriate name than a Piaggio Liberty? I love it!

Shopping for Plants on the Amalfi Coast

I’m still getting used to riding it, especially in all the curves on the Amalfi Coast. Even though I haven’t ventured very far yet, I am slowing starting to realize just how much this little motorino is going to change my life here. Yesterday was a beautiful day, and I have been wanting to get the summer herbs planted on the terrace for the past week. There is a truck that sets up every Sunday morning during the warm weather months at the crossroads of Ravello and Scala that sells plants, flowers and herbs. While I could have walked there and back like I did last year, it was such an amazing feeling to just hop on the scooter and be there in a few minutes. I just needed basilico (basil) and prezzemolo (parsley), and the men selling plants were nice enough to bag them up so that I could easily get them home on the scooter.

Shopping with the Scooter

I put the bag of parsley plants on the hook at the front of the motorino, and the bag of little basil plants fit perfectly inside the bauletto … the little storage container behind the seat. This is the best use I’ve made of the bauletto so far!

Basil in the Bauletto

The best part was that by taking the scooter I had plenty of energy left when I got home to get all the herbs planted for the summer on the terrace. The parsley and basil plants are new, and along with them I also have a rosemarino (rosemary) plant that is a few years old, a timo (thyme) plant from two years ago and a wild strawberry plant that was a gift last summer that I hope survived the winter. (The empty pot below has cilantro seeds!) I can already imagine the taste of the fresh basilico and prezzemolo on the summer pastas and fresh tomatoes. I’m hoping for a great summer like last year when we fabulous basil all summer long.

Herbs on the Terrace

The photos of the motorino were taken on my phone, but they’re the first pictures I’ve taken of my new Liberty. Well, new to me! It’s quite old, but it runs well and the price was perfect. It’s a bit dirty at the moment from the rain at the end of last week, but I’ll get some proper pictures soon when it is all clean. I just couldn’t wait to share my first taste of liberty  … and it tastes like summer on the Amalfi Coast!