Italian Language Immersion Month


Italian Book with Pen


When I wake up tomorrow morning, it is going to be a different sort of day. Inspired by Cherrye at My Bella Vita and Benny at Fluent in 3 Months, I have decided to kick my Italian studies into full gear starting September 1st (hey, isn’t it back to school time?). I have decided to make the much needed jump into the Italian language by speaking only in Italian this month, except for when talking with family and friends in America. Similar to Cherrye’s story, I have learned a lot of Italian over the past two and a half years, but I still find speaking quite a challenge. It is often easier to just speak in English even though I understand what is going on in Italian. Now I often find myself in the awkward position of being mute and frustrated, because I can understand what people say and I can’t respond. Enough of this already!



I know it is going to be a tough month, but I am excited already thinking about how much my Italian will have improved by the end of the month. And after this first month it will only get easier. One of the hardest parts will be breaking my habit of speaking in English, and gently reminding others to only speak to me in Italian. Oh, and finding the right words and remembering verb conjugations . . . It will be worth it! I will keep you all updated on my progress, as well as sharing any interesting language learning links I come across during my studies. Thanks for the inspiration Cherrye!


Italian immersion month begins in… tredueuno!

Every Sunday Evening


Romani Playing Bocce  Romani playing bocce in Villa Borghese by Ben just Ben


Every Sunday evening during the warm weather months, of which there are many, the old men near where I live play bocce. This game is played all over Italy, but here it is a local ritual that takes place only on Sunday evenings. The familiar clicking sound of the balls and the voices from afar have become a weekly ritual all its own for me. These sounds reach me at a different moment every Sunday, sometimes watering the garden, sometimes reading, sometimes preparing dinner. But no matter what I’m doing it marks a passage of time, that another week is coming to an end and a new one is about to begin. As I type this now listening to the clicking of the computer keyboard, the familiar sounds of the bocce balls remind me that almost all of the Sundays this summer have flown by. One by one, with the clicking of the bocce balls they have passed.


It is a strange and new experience for me to regularly reflect on the passing of such a length of time. The 7am church bells often wake me with a startled reminder that a new day has already begun outside my closed shutters. Yesterday with all its hopes, plans and dreams has turned into another day. I open the windows, breath in the fresh air, and take in the sun and beauty of another day. By noon, the bells from the churches of Ravello and Scala fill the valley with a melodic reminder that it is already midday. The 7pm bells are a not so subtle reminder that it will soon be time to start thinking about dinner.


Yet, when the the clicking of the bocce balls comes on Sunday evenings, I am often taken aback. Could it be that another week has gone? Didn’t I just hear that sound? Wasn’t it yesterday? No, it was a week ago already. How can everything that happens in one week suddenly be made to feel as if it had vanished with a few clicks of these little balls?

 bocce balls 

Then I hear the sound again, accompanied by celebratory sounds from the distant voices. Something good has happened! I am back in the here and now knowing that this moment will soon lead to another and another. The thoughts, feelings and experiences of now will soon be bumped aside by new ones just like the bocce balls—one strike and they will have fallen away to the past.

The Amateur Gardener Tackles Lavender


Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Lavender 2009


There are times when I love the internet and then times when I really love the internet. When it comes to learning about what’s going on in my garden, it’s generally the latter. Earlier this year I planted three new lavender plants, and they have been very happy in their new home. I can’t believe how much they have grown! Thanks to a great article I found online about How to Prune Lavender in Italy (could it be more perfect I ask??), I learned that now is the time of year to cut off the flowers. Even though this is their first year, my three plants produced a surprising amount of lavender, which I carefully trimmed yesterday morning. I smelled like lavender when I was finished! You can see it above before I tied it up and hung it to dry. Now is the fun part where I get to decide what to make with it once it is dried!


After their trimming, my three lavender plants look a little less unruly without the flowers going every which direction.


Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Lavender trimmed


What a big difference from March when I planted them!


pansies and lavender


The adventures of the amateur gardener continue . . .

Something Fishy in Atrani


Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Atrani  Pesce Azzurro1


Today I went for a beautiful swim in Atrani, and while I was there the city was setting up for the Festa del Pesce Azzurro, or the Festival of the Blue Fish, which takes place tonight. The city is covered with fishing nets like a haunted house might be with spider webs, and there are beautiful little fishing boats everywhere. It looks like a fun festival, and it has been recommended by my readers Una and Maria from Ireland who visit Atrani every year. The Festa del Pesce Azzurro is one of the many food festivals, or sagre, that are common all across Italy. They are usually a very tasty way to experience local specialties that vary from town to town and village to village. I was hoping to go to Atrani tonight, but other plans have come up for the evening. However, I just can’t resist sharing some photos of the fun decorations that I took this morning. Here you go:


Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Atrani Boat


Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Atrani Lamp


Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Atrani nets

A Day Swimming in Capri at the Faro


 Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Capri Faro1


Last month when I went on a boat tour around Capri, one real treat was seeing the Faro (lighthouse) on Punta Carena for the first time. The second most important and powerful lighthouse in Italy, it is a striking pink and white striped structure placed on a promontory shaped like the keep of a ship (carena means keel). Tucked in a small cove next to the lighthouse, I saw what looked like a spectacular swimming spot. I said to my boyfriend, “I want to go swimming there someday!”


 Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Capri Faro2


It turns out that “someday” wasn’t far to come, because earlier this month we went back to Capri for the day. There was talk of swimming at the Faro, and the locals we talked to in order to get directions unanimously declared it the most beautiful swimming spot on Capri. So off we went! On the way I didn’t quite focus on the fact that Faro meant lighthouse and that we were going swimming right where I had wanted to go! It wasn’t until we climbed off the little orange city bus that took us from Anacapri down to the secluded lighthouse area that I knew where we were.


Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Capri Faro4


Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Capri Faro3


And, yes, it was indeed spectacular! Here is a slideshow of some of the photos photos I took during our afternoon at Lido Il Faro:




It was very crowded, but that’s normal for Capri in August. Next time we’ll go in June or July. But the water was incredibly beautiful and the landscape one of the most amazing I have seen for swimming. One thing to be aware of is that there is no beach here, which would make it a challenging spot for families with young children. The are some ladders you can used to climb in, but most people just made some sort of big splash jumping in.




From the center of Anacapri, hop on one of the local orange buses marked “Il Faro.” The buses run about every 20 minutes in the summer and every 40 minutes in the winter, and you buy your ticket on the bus. It takes a 10-15 minutes to go from Anacapri down a narrow, winding road to the final stop. Get off at the parking lot and follow the locals down the steps to the swimming area. You can pay for sun beds and to use the beautiful facilities (including a pool) at Lido del Faro, or just throw your towel down on the rocks like many people do. Either way you will have a grand day!