Finding Inspiration in Italy

Sometime around the Winter of 2014, both Tyler and I got the itch to get away. We daydreamed for months about taking a long “sabbatical” in some far away place-- a month, three months, a year. However, with the business picking up speed and Tyler’s growing responsibilities at work, we began to realize that at least for now, a trip like this would have to wait. Instead, we set our sights on a somewhat more feasible amount of time abroad and a few weeks ago, we boarded a flight to Italy. We split the following ten days between Rome and the Amalfi Coast, seeing the sites, savoring the tastes, and being blown away at every corner.

 

La Città Eterna, The Eternal City

Poets, artists, and musicians have been trying to capture the essence of Rome for millennia, but it’s beauty is hard to put into words, to paint a picture of, or write a song about. There truly is something magical about the place-- how the new has been build around and on top of the ancient. You round a corner, expecting to find just another alley of trattorias or gelaterias, and BAM!, you are stopped dead in your tracks under the ancient shadow of the Pantheon. A night walk around Trastevere feels like you have been dropped into a movie scene. The ornate intricacies of church ceiling are enough to knock the wind out of you.

I studied abroad in Rome for a month during the summer before my senior year of college. It was an intensive art history program set in the historic center. Every morning we visited churches, museums, and sites, comparing nave mosaics, art movements, and architectural styles. In the afternoons we attended class in an ancient building with windows overlooking Campo di Fiori. The evenings were ours to wander and eat and explore. That summer, I cried in front of Michelangelo's Pietà in St. Peter’s, developed an unhealthy love for hard cheeses and lemon gelato, and by some miracle avoided breaking my ankles, though I insisted on wearing four inch wedges almost every day.

Before Tyler and I left for our own adventure I told him that I didn’t want to play the tour guide. I wanted him to be able to experience the same feelings that I felt when I accidentally stumbled upon the Pantheon for the first time or walked into a church, just to escape the heat, and discovered plaques taken from first century catacombs. I wanted to be surprised by new things and by the places that I had forgotten. We chose to loosely plan our days around one site or a restaurant we had heard about, but other than that we kind of left it up to the city to reveal its secrets to us on its own accord.

Salerno and the Amalfi Coast

About a two hour high speed train ride south of Rome, just past Naples, Mt. Vesuvius, and Pompeii is a stretch of some of the most beautiful coastline in the world. We had tried to pace ourselves in Rome, but the city, heat, and walking had us tuckered out and we decided that we needed a little vacation from our vacation on the Amalfi Coast, and chose Salerno as our home base. There, we experienced incredible hospitality, stunning views, fresh air, and the pure joy of deep fried octopus.

One of my very favorite memories from the trip was a kayaking tour that we took from a little beach near the town of Amalfi to a magical little inlet called the Fjord of Furore. Just before we reached the waters outside the town of Positano we encountered a huge arched bridge. We paddled under the bridge and discovered a small wedge of beach, accessible only from the water or by a set of winding stone stairs from the highway above. We dragged our red kayaks up onto the pebbly beach to take a rest and noticed colorful pieces of pottery mixed in with the rocks. The Coast is known for it’s beautiful ceramic tiles, manufactured in one of its small villages. When old buildings in the area fell into disrepair and construction work began on their facades, the workers would throw the cracked tiles into the water or onto the beach. Just like time and waves round corners of bottle shards into smooth sea glass, the water molded the tiles into circular little coins of terracotta. Some still have traces of their beautiful glazed patterns.

We landed back in the States last week with tired feel, sunburns, and stinky clothes. I feel recharged and reinvigorated with ideas, patterns, shapes, and colors and am ready to dive back into my work, thankful for this time of rejuvenation alongside my best friend.

Tyler took all of these pictures and you can see more on his amazing Instagram, here.

Where have you found unexpected inspiration?  I would love to hear about it!