ciao-amalfi-la-selva-soap-positano-3

La Selva Handmade Soap from Positano

ciao-amalfi-la-selva-soap-positano-3

A gift box of 4 soaps from La Selva (Photo courtesy La Selva)

High in the mountains above Positano there is an enchanting place where you can experience the natural beauty, sights and scents of the Amalfi Coast in an untouched setting. That special place is called La Selva, and I’ve shared about it here before since it’s setting for Sole Yoga Holiday’s annual Positano Yoga Retreat. La Selva is the creation of Martha and Cristiano, who have worked hard to make a place that respects nature – and highlights it at the same time. This is perfectly encapsulated in Martha’s new line of handmade soaps. And, yes, you can order them online!

ciao-amalfi-la-selva-soap-positano-1

Handmade soap from Amalfi Coast grown lemons and olives (Photo courtesy La Selva)

I’m always on the lookout for locally produced crafts that capture essence of the Amalfi Coast. I’m also dedicated to living as natural as possible on a daily basis, which is a continual evolution and wonderful journey. This summer while at La Selva for the Positano Yoga Retreat, I was excited to learn that Martha had created her own line of soaps. I had the pleasure to sit down with her and learn more about the process while I was there. The soaps are made with local olive oil from the first cold press along with other natural oils. Walking around La Selva, a meandering pathway leads through a beautiful terraced olive grove. Everywhere you look are the beautiful natural plants and herbs that Martha uses to make her soaps.

positano-yoga-retreat-11

La Selva’s olive grove overlooking Positano with the Li Galli islands in the distance

In fact, the soaps are all natural and include traditional Mediterranean scents like lemon, orange, mint and rosemary. Ingredients are all sustainably sourced and the soaps are produced in small batches completely by hand using a “cold process” technique before being air cured and hand cut.

ciao-amalfi-la-selva-soap-positano-4

Hand cut soap drying (Photo courtesy La Selva)

There are a variety of scents to choose from: Limone e Oliva (Lemon and Olive), Agrumi (Citrus), Menta e Rosemarino (Mint and Rosemary), Propoli e Miele (Propolis and Honey), Iperico e Tea Tree (St. John’s Wort and Tea Tree) and Mirto e Arancia (Blueberry and Orange). I’ve tried out three of the soaps above and love them all. I’m excited to try out the new Lemon and Olive oil soap this winter!

ciao-amalfi-la-selva-soap-positano-2

Lemon and Olive oil handmade and all natural soap (Photo courtesy La Selva)

If you love the Amalfi Coast and natural products, this is the soap for you! You can find out more and order directly online from Martha at the La Selva Positano Cosmetici Naturali Facebook page.

ciao-amalfi-positano-wisteria-1

Italy Roundtable: The Rush of the Strange and Unfamiliar

ciao-amalfi-positano-wisteria-1

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.

ciao-amalfi-positano-wisteria-2

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.

ciao-amalfi-positano-wisteria-3

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

 

Ravello and Spring on the Amalfi Coast

Visiting the Amalfi Coast in the Spring

Ravello and Spring on the Amalfi Coast

What to See & Do on the Amalfi Coast in the Spring

The weather is warming up, birds are singing every morning when I open the window and the almond trees have started to blossom. That means la primavera has arrived on the Amalfi Coast! Everything is a bit brighter this time of year, and I love watching the trees and plants come to life. Spring brings with it the arrival of the tourist season and travelers from around the world start arriving. Those lucky early spring visitors are in for a treat, too! While it’s true that the weather can be a bit more unpredictable in March and April, the rainy weather usually passes quickly. So for those of you getting ready for your upcoming trip, here’s a look at some of my favorite reasons to visit the Amalfi Coast in the Spring!

 

See the Wisteria Blooming

Wisteria in Positano - Spring on the Amalfi Coast

Ahhh … nothing says spring on the Amalfi Coast more than draping vines of sweet scented wisteria! Since the early spring flowers like daffodils and tulips aren’t very common in this area, I look forward all winter to seeing the wisteria blooming. While you can see wisteria all up and down the coast, my two favorite spots on my annual wisteria pilgrimage are Positano and Ravello. In Positano, you can find the wisteria blooming from right down by the beach and along the main street up into town. See more photos of wisteria in Positano here. In Ravello, you won’t want to miss visiting the Villa Cimbrone, which has pergolas full of wisteria. It’s absolutely heavenly when they’re blooming! The wisteria usually blooms from the end of March to beginning of April, depending on the spring weather.

 

Enjoy the Crisp Colors on a Ferry Ride

Amalfi Ferry - Amalfi Coast in the Spring

Usually around Easter time (or earlier if April is late in the spring) the ferries start running on the Amalfi Coast. This is the best way to get around, especially between Amalfi and Positano. The colors in the spring are often crisper than later in the summer when it tends to be more humid. So it’s a great time to get out your camera and enjoy the views of this gorgeous coastline from the sea.

 

Go Hiking Among the Flowers

Capri Spring Hiking - Amalfi Coast in the Spring

March and April are both great months for hiking on the Amalfi Coast, especially if you aren’t too fond of the heat. The ginestra (yellow broom flowers you can see in the photo above on Capri) starts blooming around this time, and the yellow flowers create quite a punch of color against the blue background of the sea and sky. Enjoy a hike in the mountains around Amalfi or why not tackle the incredible Pathway of the Gods above Positano? Or, if you’re looking for an stunning view without the hike, take the funicular up to Monte Solaro on Capri for the beautiful view above.

 

Get the Beach (Almost) to Yourself!

April Beach in Amalfi - Spring on the Amalfi Coast

When the sun comes out so do all the beach lovers! While the water might be a bit chilly for some people (including me!) this time of year, it’s definitely not for many people. Even if I don’t venture in very far in the spring, I love this time of year at the beach since it’s so much less crowded than the summer. The water is also incredibly clear and oh so tempting!

 

Easter in Amalfi

Neapolitan Pastiera Amalfi Coast

This year Pasqua (Easter) falls on Sunday, April 16th, which is the unofficial start of the season on the Amalfi Coast. If you’re visiting the area for Easter this year, be sure to arrive in time for Good Friday, which is when you’ll be able to experience the incredibly moving religious processions that take place on that day. One of the most impressive on the coast is in Amalfi, where a large procession takes place after dark. The city shuts off the lights in the piazza and it’s lit only by candles. You can get a glimpse of the procession in this video from a few years back.

While on the Amalfi Coast during Easter, don’t miss the chance to try the traditional Neapolitan pastiera. It’s a tart made with ricotta cheese, cooked wheat, eggs and candied orange peels. You’ll find it at every bakery during the Easter season, but my two favorite spots in Amalfi are Pasticceria Pansa or Pasticceria Leone. If you’re planning a visit to the Amalfi Coast this spring, I hope it’s a sweet one!

 

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!

 

 

positano-yoga-retreat-1

An Amalfi Coast Yoga Retreat in Paradise

positano-yoga-retreat-1

Love the Amalfi Coast? Love yoga? If you answered yes to both of those questions, then I’ve got something you’re really going to love. I’ve always known that the Amalfi Coast was a paradise, but I didn’t know just how beautiful it could be when my passion for yoga and for the Amalfi Coast came together. It’s a match made in heaven! That’s how I felt when I joined my friend Shari from Sole Yoga Holidays earlier this summer at her Positano Yoga Retreat. This incredible yoga experience takes place at the eco resort La Selva, set high in the mountains above Positano. I couldn’t imagine a more stunning location for learning more about yoga, making new friends, enjoying fabulous organic meals and, of course, those panoramic views of the Amalfi Coast.

When most people think of Positano, they think of the pastel hued homes spilling down the mountainside to the sea. That certainly is Positano and is a huge part of the experience on this retreat, but what I particularly enjoyed about Sole Yoga Holiday’s choice of La Selva is that is highlights the other side of the Amalfi Coast. That’s the rugged and wild natural beauty that you find in the mountains, an incredible side of Positano that many visitors miss. I love that Shari has designed her Positano retreat to highlight the best of Positano – the quiet beauty, the hidden away beaches and all the fun Positano has to offer.

positano-yoga-retreat-2

It was quite a hike up to La Selva, but while chatting and making new friends it passed in no time. This place blew my mind! Following the pathway up to the main buildings, we passed the glass enclosed yoga studio where we held our morning and evening yoga classes and also a wooden platform where we had an evening meditation session with a view that stretches down the coastline all the way to Capri. The pathway leads eventually to La Selva, where they have rooms and a beautiful terrace where meals were served – with windows flung open to feel even closer to that stunning view.

positano-yoga-retreat-3

I woke up early one morning and crept upstairs with my tripod to capture the morning light, the reflections and view. It’s such a peaceful area, and surrounded by such natural beauty it feels natural to spend some time reflecting. I do that while taking photos, so off I went for an early morning exploration through the terraces of La Selva.

positano-yoga-retreat-5

From all the walking and yoga you naturally work up an appetite! That was taken care of by La Selva with the most creative and delicious meals by chef Francesco Nicolai, which were all vegetarian and incorporated ingredients grown on their property. So fresh, so unexpected and so very good.

positano-yoga-retreat-cooking

I met such interesting people who were part of the yoga retreat, which meant that dinner at the long wooden table naturally led into conversations after dinner over fresh lemon verbena tea with a dollop of La Selva’s own honey.

positano-yoga-retreat-4

Just outside the view was captivating day and night. During quiet moments I could just sit and get lost in the view of the mountains and the sea, including the Li Galli islands off Positano.

positano-yoga-retreat-6

Come along and enjoy some of the photos I took while exploring La Selva and enjoying some quiet moments before and after the yoga classes.

positano-yoga-retreat-12

While the location of yoga retreat meant lots of nature, every once in awhile a reminder of modern day Positano would appear. At night the lights of massive yachts dotted the sea around Positano. Like I said, there are two sides of the Amalfi Coast. I loved being surrounded by the side much more comfortable to me – quiet, natural cooking, spectacular scenery.

positano-yoga-retreat-7

 

positano-yoga-retreat-13

Everyone … including the cats … were peaceful and happy at La Selva! They have resident cats, dogs, chickens and even two extremely cute donkeys that you can stop by and say hi to while out exploring. I was pretty sure that cat had it all figured out.

positano-yoga-retreat-11

While walking to and from the yoga studio, I loved catching little glimpses of the familiar Positano, like the Li Galli islands suddenly popping out from behind the olive trees. Do you see them in the photo above?

positano-yoga-retreat-9

And, the best part, there was yoga! While I’ve never had much experience taking yoga classes, both Shari and her assistant instructor Melissa both made me feel comfortable right away. It was also my first time with Ashtanga yoga, which I enjoyed as well. Given that my yoga practice takes place in my living room, it was wonderful to get some time with experienced teachers who were able to help me see quite a few new things that I remember every time I get on the yoga mat now. I just wish I could continue to take classes from Shari and Melissa … and I wouldn’t mind having that platform and incredible view, too!

positano-yoga-retreat-8

If you love Positano and love yoga, I couldn’t recommend the Sole Yoga Holidays yoga retreat in Positano highly enough! You can experience it yourself next year from July 30th-August 5th, 2017. Find out more about Sole Yoga Holiday’s Positano Yoga Retreat here … and don’t forget to enter my code “CIAOAMALFI” when you book and receive a €100 Euro discount plus a natural cosmetic gift made right at La Selva!*

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

DISCLOSURE: If you use the CIAOAMALFI code when booking your retreat with Shari, I will earn a small commission. I only make recommendations that I have experienced firsthand, and all the opinions expressed here are wholeheartedly my own. You will not pay more when booking with my code. Thank you in advance for your support!