Ramblings on beauty after a day in Ravello, Amalfi Coast
The anti-ripoff dad
“Do you mind being generous with the portions? You know, the kids have a good fork.” This is the more or less literal translation of what my dad, in his Neapolitan dialect, asked the owner of a beautiful restaurant facing the sea in Ravello, a small village on the Amalfi Coast. By “kids”, of course, he was referring to me and my brother – in our late 20s and early 30s respectively, so I’m not sure about the reference. And by “good fork”, well, I have no clue what he meant, but we all burst out laughing anyway. My dad is a lot of fun. Also, he doesn’t like to get ripped off in his homeland, and is therefore very wary of touristy places. He wanted to make a point. Like, a “Hey you, I am a local guy, I know exactly what portions in southern Italy are supposed to be like, so don’t you even try” kind of statement. He once showed my aunties from Liverpool around Rome, and when they all decided to have lunch in one of those nice little restaurants by the Trevi Fountain, he refused to go in after politely telling the owner that the prices were outrageous and that they should be ashamed of ripping tourists off. At the Pompeii ruins, with the same aunties a few years before, he ended up arguing with the management for charging money to use one square of toilet paper. He just believes this is not the way Italian people are and that we shouldn’t make money off tourists but rather show them the beauty of our country. I think he’s right, but I also find this hilarious.
Going back to the Amalfi Coast, that place is a real pearl in Italy. I’ve been away from this part of the world for many years now, and despite the fact that I would never be able to come back and live here (for now, at least), whenever I do come back I always make sure I save the time for a little trip there, and each time I am more astonished by its beauty. When I was younger, I never used to stop and stare at it. I never used to think, “Wow, I’m swimming in crystal-clear water while looking up at steep mountains of rocks, lemon trees and colourful flowers falling right into the sea”. I have seen tons of breathtaking places. For instance, some beaches in the Philippines have no rivals. But in Southern Italy, there is so much history and so much culture behind each little alley, each little church, each dialect word, each dish, each espresso and, of course, each Limoncello (strictly always offered for free by the restaurant managers as part of the local culture) that is simply unique and not easy to explain with words. It is a must-see place.
So much beauty around us, yet we don’t always embrace it. It was the same for me and my friends when I lived in Rome, so I came to the conclusion that people just tend to forget – or not fully appreciate – the beauty around them until they miss it. Driving past the Coliseum or walking past the Pantheon on your way to work without thinking “holy shit!” isn’t normal to me today. But it is too easy for people, myself included, to passively get lost in their routines and stop admiring what is around them.
I have definitely changed now. I stop and stare, sometimes for hours, at the world’s beauty, wherever I am, and appreciate it to its fullest. This is me enjoying the view from the Amalfi Coast.