La Dolce Vita - Lessons Learned from Italy

The Italy trip came at a point in my life where I was simply exhausted - there's no other way to say it - exhausted physically, spiritually, emotionally and creatively. While the American work ethic is something I've always admired, I've had difficulty with rest. It's not something I'm proud of, but my default in the past has been to work myself to such a point of exhaustion that I think my body finally says "enough" and shuts down (& I get sick). It's a terrible cycle! The message of working from a place of rest rather than "resting" from work (because you have exhausted yourself) is one that's really resonated with me recently & reminds me of the gift that Italy gave to me - one that I'm trying to keep at the forefront of my mind - to enjoy life.

The idea is not that as Americans we should take more vacations (though I do believe the Europeans have us beat in that area), it's the enjoyment of the little things - the everyday. I loved the mid-morning espresso break for instance - this is not your quick 10 minute jaunt to the break room for a refresh on your morning drip. No, this is a time to step away from whatever you're doing, meet your friends at a small cafe in the middle of town and enjoy not only a high quality coffee (this is Italy after all), but a time to be with people. Not on social media checking your "likes" on Facebook, but an actual break to sit with your friends and connect.

At the Making Things Happen conference we did this exercise where we visualized what our life would look like when we're 80 years old (and if you haven't taken the time to think through this, I encourage you to do so). Now, what did you envision? For most people, there's an element of relationships - family or friends, etc. Not that social media is bad, but who thinks about their life at 80 and says "I wish I had more followers on Instagram?"

Now, back to Italy. My sister & I were sitting at an adorable little cafe in Ravello (pictured below) enjoying the sunshine, watching the Italians converse over their mid-morning espressos and life just seemed perfect. I turned to my sister & we made a pact (complete with pinky promise) that when we returned home, we'd take time to stop and enjoy life together whether that meant breaking from work to grab a coffee, going to brunch or spending an afternoon by the pool. Because at the end of the day, we only have one life to live - let's spend it wisely and remember to spend time creating memories with the ones we love.

Amalfi, Italy - Last Looks

It's hard for me to explain the deep love I have for Italy and the Italian culture after this last trip. It's more than just the beautiful countryside and amazing food that so many people rave about - it's an obsession with the gorgeous language, a love for its people, and an adoration for the culture and history that calls to my heart. So, as you can imagine, when it came time to leave this amazing country and its lovely people, I was reluctant to leave. The cloudy skies seemed appropriate as we took time to have a final espresso at Andrea Pansa and said "Arrivederci" to our new friends.

Once we said goodbye to Amalfi, we traveled by bus back to Salerno for a pizza lunch and then took the train back to Milan where we flew back to the US the next morning. Arrivederci, Italia. Until we meet again, you will always have a special place in my heart.

Last Morning in Amalfi, Italy

Our last morning in Amalfi was full of goodbyes and last looks. The skies, though sunny when we arrived, were cloudy and overcast - as if they too were sad we were leaving (though I will say that the overcast skies made for a fabulous sunrise!). We enjoyed a delicious breakfast of local sausage & ham, bread, grapes and a croissant along with my favorite arancia rossa (blood orange) juice. Mmmmmm :) Enjoy my last looks around our B&B Ercole di Amalfi! (To see more from our lovely stay at Ercole di Amalfi check out my blog all about it HERE).

Lello with the adorable couple who lived across the street from the B&B who I was lucky to meet and chat with on one of my morning walks! Until next time - Ciao Amico Mio!

Villa Eva - Ravello, Italy Wedding Venue

With one of the most picturesque views on the Amalfi Coast, Villa Eva is a dream venue for your Italian destination wedding! I fell in love with this property while my sister & I were exploring the streets of Ravello (true story - we were invited in for our own private tour) and wanted to share my highlights with you here today! I'm dreaming of one day photographing a wedding here! Eeeeek! Now, let's take a look around...

With an arch of vibrant blooms & greenery bathed in magical late afternoon light, the space in front of this arch would be incredible for your Bridal as well as Bride and Groom portraits! (Isn't my sister the cutest model? :) )

The towering facade of Villa Eva is a beautiful focal point for your wedding design and will wow your guests as they enter the venue's property! This gorgeous view of the Villa is the view your guests have once they duck through the arch off the quiet streets of Ravello - pretty, isn't it?

I also imagine amazing portraits against these windows with the reflections of the Mediterranean Sea and sky behind! Perfect! 

And, this, my friends, is the view! Bellissimo!

The sides of this pavillion roll down & up - providing shade for guests, and various reception tables fit nicely in here. The pavillion can seat 130, and the entire villa can accommodate a wedding of up to 300!

This is the pizza oven area! Yes, you read that right - you can dance into the night and then eat fresh, hot Italian pizza with your friends on the spot! WHAT??!!! Mind blown! This area is also great for your Cocktail Hour or as the Italians say "Aperitivo!"

There is an outside bar on this side of the Villa that's perfect for mingling and cocktails, etc.

Please inquire HERE if you're interested in my special rate for Italian destination weddings! All photographs here taken on Kodak Ektar 100 film. Ciao!

Ravello, Italy - Amalfi Coast

On our first full day on the Amalfi Coast, my sister Sarah & I took the short bus right from Amalfi to Ravello - a gorgeous hillside town known for it's music festival and as an amazing wedding destination! As we explored Ravello's light-filled streets I couldn't help but dream of one day photographing a wedding at one of Ravello's gorgeous villas! Coming next week is a closer look at one wedding venue that I hope to return to one day! For now, enjoy this look around Ravello! Film shot on the Pentax 645n using Kodak Ektar 100.

Ciao, Adventurers! Remember to make time to explore our gorgeous world!

More from the Amalfi Coast: Amalfi, Italy - Day 1 | Amalfi - My Favorite Place on Earth | Ercole di Amalfi - Amalfi Coast Bed & Breakfast, Honeymoon Spot | Atrani - Amalfi Coast, Italy

Ercole di Amalfi - Amalfi Coast Bed & Breakfast, Honeymoon Spot

Perched high above the Mediterranean Sea is the gorgeous, family-run Bed and Breakfast - Ercole di Amalfi. When my sister Sarah and I started planning our Italian adventure, the first thing I began researching was places to stay. As I began perusing properties in Amalfi on Airbnb, Ercole di Amalfi definitely stood out. After reading the rave reviews, I knew what another happy guests had seen as well - this up and coming property was soon to be a big hit!

Despite how much I had built it up in my mind, our stay exceeded my expectations! The view alone is worth the stay (see my video of sunrise over the Mediterranean from the terrace HERE). But beyond that, the rooms were gorgeous, clean and airy with a very artistic attention to detail.  I loved the bright white and blue color scheme, the incredible beds (my sister said it was one of the nicest beds she’s ever slept in) and the view of amazing garden and Sea beyond - all which made it the perfect little hamlet to relax and unwind.

But, what really pushed our stay over the edge from great to perfect was our hostess MariaGrazia and her family. Our first breakfast in the garden (which was also delicious, in case you were wondering), I noticed an older gentleman pruning the plants. Armed with my curiosity and feeble Italian, I walked over & struck up a conversation with him, and I learned that this was no random gardener but MariaGrazia's sweet grandfather Lello! What started with learning about the woodwork, sculpture and carving he had done all over the property (he's an incredible artist) ended with a personalized tour of the orchard full of lemon trees passed down their family line. He also generously gave us fresh lemons and oranges for the rest of our trip! Such kindness and generosity was really why I fell in love with Amalfi! With the amenities, gorgeous (and secluded) location and amazing people it would be an amazing place for a Honeymoon, Anniversary or Romantic Getaway! It's absolutely perfect for the Adventurous Couple, and I can't wait to return with my husband :-)

I love the quiet, gorgeous neighborhood too! It was perfect for a morning walk!

The gorgeous detailing above the bed was also Lello's handiwork! Isn't it gorgeous?!! (as well as the sculpture below)

Breakfasts in the garden were AMAZING! I loved being able to start my day here! :-)

And, after breakfast we headed into the orchard with Lello for a tour of the lemon, orange & fig trees!

For more information or to book your own stay, visit: Ercole di Amalfi - Bed & Breakfast

Atrani - Amalfi Coast, Italy

One of the greatest joys in travel comes from taking the time to explore places off the beaten path. While tours can be a wonderful way to learn more history, I've always been an independent traveler more willing to march to the beat of my own drum. While Atrani is only one town over from Amalfi, it had a quieter feel best described as a little nautical hamlet on the Mediterranean Sea. I cannot recommend enough how lovely it was to explore Italy in the off-season! Instead of shuffling with tourists and sitting in traffic along the Amalfi Coast's famous coastline, we practically had the charming towns to ourselves! On our way back "home" from a day trip to Ravello (blog post coming soon!), we hopped off the SITA bus in charming little Atrani to explore, walk down to the water and watch the sun set. Enjoy some of my favorite captures from Atrani all taken with the Pentax 645n using Kodak Portra 800.

My photo above was also recently featured on the Global Family Italia Instagram (@gf_italy) page! It's so exciting seeing my work being featured for the world to see! :-) Come back next Tuesday for more from the Amalfi Coast!

To see & read more from my Italy Adventure, check out: Milan, Florence from Giotto's Bell Tower, Florence, Part II, Amalfi - My Favorite Place on Earth, and Amalfi - Day 1