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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

 

Wisteria in Positano

Ciao Amalfi Coast Travel Positano Wisteria Pergola

Under the wisteria pergola in Positano

Spring came late and all at once this year. The villages along the Amalfi Coast went straight from overcast wintry days to the buzz of activity rushing to prepare for the busy season seemingly overnight. The flowers loved all the rain and suddenly burst in bloom last month. Speaking of flowers, that’s precisely why I found myself in Positano one morning last month. With the blue sky and sunshine beckoning, I followed a whim and took the early boat from Amalfi to Positano to see the wisteria. And, my oh my, was it ever a show!

Ciao Amalfi Travel Wisteria Positano Ferry

Stepping off the ferry in Positano ... wisteria, here I come!

Positano is such a dreamy place and so very different from Amalfi. Even I feel like I’m on vacation when I step off the ferry and look up at the colorful houses stacked up the side of the mountain. With the restaurants overlooking the beach and the sun shining, there’s an air of isolation that adds so much charm when you’re on holiday. Boats come and go, but the rest of the world feels a million miles away. It was still pretty quiet when I stepped off the ferry and I didn’t meet too many people while heading to the center of the village just below the Church of Santa Maria Assunta.

Ciao Amalfi Coast Travel Positano Wisteria Boughs

Cascading wisteria in Positano

Just at the base of the staircase where you start the climb up toward the church there is a wall that is covered with wisteria vines. The few earlier rising tourists who were out exploring were sitting around the steps or enjoying coffee at a restaurant nearby. The air was filled with the sweet and spicy scent of wisteria along with freshly brewed espresso and morning pastries from a bar just a few steps away.

Ciao Amalfi Coast Travel Positano Wisteria Buca di Bacco

Wisteria vines meandering up the walls in Positano

The wisteria vines seem such a natural part of the buildings in Positano, like they’ve been delicately draped across the balconies and pergolas to make them even more captivating.

Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Positano Wisteria

Wisteria cascading down a wall in Positano

The scent of these blossoms was simply intoxicating. I sat down nearby and breathed in deeply, wishing I could somehow capture and hold onto the scent. If you haven’t smelled wisteria before, it’s kind of like vanilla in that it is warm, sweet and spicy all at once. It somehow combines the sweetness of jasmine with the first sunshine after a gloomy winter into a delicate and spicy scent. It’s good for the soul, that’s what it is.

Ciao Amalfi Coast Travel Positano Wisteria Detail

An intoxicatingly spicy and sweet scent - heavenly!

Close your eyes, take a deep breath and let your imagination carry you to Positano. The sea is moments away, the scent of wisteria fills the air and the sun is shining just for you …

Ciao Amalfi Coast Travel Positano Wisteria Li Galli Islands

Peeking over at the wisteria in Positano

I was so taken by the wisteria that it wasn’t until I got home and downloaded the photos that I realized this shot above had the Li Galli islands perfectly framed in the upper left. I tucked one of those purple blossoms right there into my notebook and smelled it all the way home.

Ciao Amalfi Coast Travel Positano Wisteria Vines

Purple blossoms and red buildings

After tearing myself away from the wisteria blossoms near the beach I started to climb slowly up the narrow passageways of Positano. I could smell these incredible wisteria blossoms before I turned the corner! One deep red building was covered with wisteria, especially one balcony that must have been gorgeous from the inside. Just imagine how beautiful your house would smell!

Ciao Amalfi Coast Travel Positano Wisteria Red Walls

A moment of balcony envy ...

I kept climbing and climbing until I reached a pretty little piazza with a gorgeous pergola full of wisteria blossoms. I happened to bump into a friend from Amalfi while wandering the streets with camera in hand and he asked what brought me to Positano. I pointed up to the pergola of cascading wisteria we just happened to be standing under.

Ciao Amalfi Coast Travel Positano Wisteria Pergola

Under the wisteria pergola

“Ah, the glicine.” That’s the Italian word for wisteria. He seemed a bit perplexed why I would come from Amalfi to Positano to see the wisteria, but when I pointed out that it’s simply more beautiful in Positano even the Amalfitano had to agree. It really is something!

Ciao Amalfi Coast Travel Positano Wisteria Brilliant Blue Sky

Wisteria blossoms against the brilliant blue sky

Every little village on the Amalfi Coast has its own character, and even the weather can vary noticeably from village to village. Positano is nearly always warmer than Amalfi throughout the year and significantly warmer than Ravello and Scala, which are located 350-400 meters above sea level. When I went to see the wisteria and found it nearly in full bloom in Positano it was just beginning to blossom in Amalfi and Ravello. There’s just something about the climate difference that makes it grow better and bloom incredibly in Positano.

Ciao Amalfi Coast Travel Positano Wisteria Parking

Even the parking area in Positano is gorgeous!

I was happy that the sun was shining and I had the chance to catch the wisteria at its peak in Positano. The petals were just starting to gentle fall, scattering in the sea breeze like a spring snowfall. Last year I missed the best time to see the wisteria because the weather turned bad just at the moment they were at their best. Two years ago I went and had fun discovering the Wisteria Wonderland in Positano. That time I had a picnic and soaked up the sun on the beach, but this time I sat and enjoyed a cappuccino while working on the outline for an exciting project I hope to be working on soon.

Ciao Amalfi Coast Travel Positano Wisteria Bar

Wisteria with your morning cappuccino? Yes, please!

Yes, this is a yearly tradition that I hope to continue. If you come to the Amalfi Coast in the early spring, the water may still be chilly for a swim and the villages still coming to life after the winter, but if you happen to catch the wisteria blooming in Positano it makes up for everything else!

Ciao Amalfi Coast Travel Positano Wisteria and Orchids

Wisteria and orchids in Positano

Like I said, it’s good for the soul.

Wisteria Blooming in Ravello

After a couple of years of rainy and cold springs, the Amalfi Coast is finally having the mild and beautiful spring weather that it’s famous for. The wisteria has been blooming for weeks already along the coastline, and I’ve been enjoying its sweet scent filling the air. While the wisteria in Positano peaked about two weeks ago, the cooler temperatures up in the mountains of Ravello means that the wisteria blooms a little later there. I’ve been in Ravello quite a bit recently, and I’ve found wisteria blooming all over the town, from little trellises covered with vines to luscious clusters of flowers decorating the walls and signs. Here are a few springtime views of wisteria in Ravello. Enjoy!

Spring Blooms in Ravello

Spring blooms in Ravello

Wisteria in Ravello

Wisteria blooming in Ravello

Wisteria at the Hotel Rufolo in Ravello

Gorgeous wisteria at the Hotel Rufolo

Wisteria blooming in Ravello

A trellis of wisteria in Ravello looking toward Maiori and Minori

Wisteria in Ravello

Wisteria blooms looking down to Ravello's hamlet of Marmorata

Photo Friday: Wisteria in Ravello

Wisteria Villa Rufolo Ravello

Last weekend I was walking in Ravello and passed through a walkway that leads in one place between and under part of the beautiful gardens of the Villa Rufolo. I could smell the sweet scent of wisteria as I climbed a steep staircase, and as I reached the top was welcomed by this beautiful trellis of blooming wisteria. It wasn’t quite at peak, but it was close enough to fill the surrounding area with sweetness. It was an ideal spot to stop and catch my breath after the long climb!

Happy weekend to everyone!

Wisteria Wonderland in Positano

Last spring Rosa from the Bell’Avventura blog in Positano wrote a post filled with gorgeous photos of the wisteria season in Positano. I was smitten. Wisteria is one of my favorite spring flowers, and I love how the sweet scent fills the air this time of year. I just had to experience the beautiful wisteria in Positano for myself this year! I am thankful that Rosa reminded me to get over there early in April to see it, because it blooms significantly earlier there than in the area around Amalfi. Last Friday I woke up to a beautiful morning and knew it was my chance. Off to see the wisteria!

Ferry Boat to Positano

I took the earliest ferry to Positano from Amalfi and enjoyed watching the morning light along the coastline. Positano in the distance is always a beautiful sight! As the boat turns toward town, you can start to make out the tiled dome of the church of Santa Maria Assunta on the beach and the colorful houses stacked up the cliff side.

Positano from the Sea

After I arrived it didn’t take long to find the first wisteria climbing up the side of a restaurant near the beach. Not a bad start!

Wisteria in Positano

I followed the narrow streets lined with shops up toward the church, and came around a corner to find the trellis above the walkway covered with blooming wisteria. The sweet scent was intoxicating!

Wisteria in Positano

The campanile (bell tower) of the church peeked out between the purple blooms of wisteria. All around everyone stopped to stare at the incredible display of color.

Wisteria in Positano

I walked up and up into town and found more wisteria along the way. The air was filled with the sweet scent, and I think I could smell it before I came across another beautiful vine.

Wisteria in Positano

Wisteria in Positano

Wisteria in Positano

After a leisurely stroll through the wisteria wonderland, I stopped at a small food shop and bought a panini with proscuitto and artichokes and headed toward the beach. With lunch and my new Positano beach basket in tow, I headed to the beach for a couple hours of sun.

On the Beach in Positano

I found a sandy spot on the beach and spread out my pareo. The sand is always a treat and so much more comfortable compared to the big pebbles in Amalfi. The black sand was such a warm and welcome reminder that summer is just around the corner!

Sandy Beach in Positano

Time always passes too fast in Positano, and before long it was time to pack up and catch the ferry back to Amalfi. But I know I started a new tradition … and that I’ll be back again next spring to see the wisteria in Positano!