From Here to There: Calm and quiet in Amalfi

Laura Thayer discovers the authentic Amalfi…

Golden Winter Light in Amalfi300pxQuiet descends on the Amalfi Coast during the month of January. After ringing in the New Year with the most dramatic fireworks display over the harbour of Amalfi, the celebrations and festive atmosphere continue right up to Epiphany, a religious holiday celebrating the manifestation of Christ and the coming of the Magi. For children, the holiday is the much-anticipated arrival of La Befana, a good witch that traditionally brings presents for good children and coal for bad children.

Whether you get coal or candy in your stocking, Epiphany comes as the last hurrah of family gatherings before a quiet period begins. After the holidays something changes in the air in Amalfi. While it is not the time of year to come to Amalfi if you?re in search of warm sun and beach days, there is something unique about experiencing Amalfi at rest. That?s when you see what is there all year but can be hard to spot ? the authentic Amalfi.

Instead of running away like it does during the busy seasons, time seems to slow down in January. There is the time again to see friends, to laugh and catch up while walking along the harbour. The air is clear and crisp and ideal for an invigorating passeggiata ? the classic Italian stroll along the waterfront. This tradition takes a bit more bundling up in the winter to keep warm, but many of the Amalfitani folk see the town?s piazzas and waterfront piers as just an extension of the home, an outdoor living space, so to speak, which they can appreciate at their leisure.
Golden Winter Light Watchtower in Amalfi200pxThere?s no better way to enjoy a late January afternoon in Amalfi than by joining in the passeggiata. I walk and listen and watch ? captivated by the winter light in Amalfi and being a part of life in this beautiful place. Two men walk along the harbour sidewalks, each with hands clasped behind
their lower backs, deep in communication. Perhaps the topic is politics or maybe the latest soccer games are being replayed in vivid detail accompanied by critiques. Whatever they?re discussing, there is always time to stop when something too important to express without a pause for emphasis or corresponding gesture comes up. Soon they begin again, their walk punctuated with pauses as conversation continues. There?s time to walk, time to talk and time to stop in January.

I look forward to these winter days when life slows down, allowing me to enjoy it in greater detail ? watching the little gestures, the reflections of the colourful fishing boats in the harbour and the way the evening light turns Amalfi gold. With this quiet, there?s time to focus on the beginning of a new year and look ahead to the future. There?s time to stop, take a deep breath and observe the colours, scents and quiet experiences of winter in Amalfi before time hurries away again.

The Writer
Laura Thayer is an American writer and art historian living on the Amalfi Coast. She writes about daily life, history and culture in southern Italy at