From Skyscrapers to Lemon Groves: Part 7 –
Five months of priceless Amalfi memories
I am sitting in terminal C at Fiumicino airport in Rome. A thickly accented Italian voice booms over the loudspeaker and our flight begins to board. My cell phone is ringing with messages of “Buon viaggio”(have a good trip), “Ti voglio bene”(I love you), and “Gia’ mi manchi”(I miss you already), while tears stream out of my puffy eyes and down my wet cheeks.
I have been on the Amalfi Coast for five months. I spent five months locked in an Italian summer in an Italian world; my days consisting of sun, sea and lemons. Now I am stuffing my carry-on bag into the overhead compartment on a cold airplane that will take me back to my other life in my other world; the life and the family that waits for me across the Atlantic in New York. Of course, I am excited to see my family; to hug and kiss them and tell them how much I love them and have missed seeing them every day.
As you hopefully have read in my first column, I left New York City a bit broken and disillusioned. I fled to the lemon groves of Amalfi with the intension of healing my soul and rediscovering the woman that I used to be but somehow had lost between SOHO and East 60th Street.
I found what I was looking for and more.
Throughout the past five months I explored a new part of the coast every day. I met new people every day until they eventually turned into familiar faces. I was able to spend more time with my Italian family and to get to know them better. I learned how to understand the local dialect. I ate (way too much) pasta. I fell in love (or lust?) with an Italian man. Most importantly, I found myself.
At this moment, as the plane is taking off and I’m looking out the window, I smile to myself because I did something that took courage. I left all that was familiar to me in the United States and dove headfirst into the unfamiliar life and language of Southern Italy. It wasn’t easy and at times was frustrating. There were communication barriers.
Although I speak the language I realized that the way I interpret certain things was not the same as others’ interpretation. I associate that with the cultural differences. Women and men play a much more traditional role on the coast. Of course, this is changing and is not always the case, but the Amalfi coast is “behind” the USA in that particular sense.
Luxuries that I thought I couldn’t live without in New York were suddenly obsolete on the coast. My showers consisted of a race to shampoo and condition my long hair before the water turned into an ice bath.
For some people, arriving home entails climbing two hundred steps. Whatever the case may be, this is the life on the Amalfi Coast and it is beautiful.
Five months in pictures:
Valeria Carrano is Fashion Director & Contributing Columnist for Italia Living.
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