Blue Sapphire….

Today…my final day! Still cannot quite believe that this time tomorrow I will be no longer sitting here at my desk with a view of Vesuvius and the amazing coast line. I have fallen in love with the place and the school! Unable to say goodbye…I am trying to organise my return for 2018.

This really has been the best thing that I have done in my life and I feel prepared for my working life as a result of the support of the teaching staff and the high quality of teaching here. I have learnt so much and my Italian has come on leaps-and-bounds.  

For today I am going to forget that it is my last day here to avoid the feeling of sadness! I still fail to find words to sum up my experience, this beautiful place and all of the amazing people I have met!

There has always been something about Sorrento that keeps bringing me back here. I still have not worked out what it is about Sorrento….but there is something there in my heart that attaches me to this place.

To me Sorrento is like a blue sapphire. Somewhere so close to my heart, something that shines and stands out from other places in the world and somewhere when you can loose yourself in the natural beauty of the place.

See you soon Sorrento! This is not goodbye!

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Picturesque Pozzuoli

For anyone that loves Sofia Loren, Pozzuoli should be on your list of things to see and do! Although there are no tributes, photographs or history boards attributed to the amazing actress, it is incredible to see where Sofia Loren spent some of her childhood.

Even if you are not a film enthusiast, Pozzuoli is a beautiful place for a day out. I love Pozzuoli because it has more of an Italian feel to it and it is very hard to hear a word of English in this beautiful picturesque town. Despite the fact that it is not far from Sorrento, there is a completely different atmosphere, which is something I found very charming about this specific place. It is a lot less busy around the harbour area and Pozzuoli is not filled with tacky tourist shops, instead it has shops to fit the needs of the local inhabitants.

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At lunchtime…traditions are traditions. All of the shops shut in Pozzuoli for at least two hours over lunch…giving you the perfect opportunity to head down to the beach and relax! The beach at Pozzuoli is very crowded with locals but the water is beautiful….it glistens like a thousand crystals ..and to my surprise…it was actually quite warm!

The train journey back to Naples from Pozzuoli is very interesting. Although some of the places look very impoverished, they still have that certain “je ne sais quoi”, that certain Italian charm! I really would recommend Pozzuoli to anyone looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the tourism in Sorrento!

Arrivedeci Italia!

My final three days here have come around quicker than I ever expected. In someways I am looking forward to returning and seeing my family to share all of my fabulous stories and memories of my “new home” but in other ways I feel like cancelling my airplane ticket and staying here FOREVER!

For the locals here the views have become part of their daily lives. I am always surprised when I talk to locals that tell me they do not even notice the views anymore because it has become their natural background. After five weeks I am still taken aback by the views! The views really do make this place an incredible place to be. It is difficult to say what I have enjoyed the most during my time here because I have had so many amazing experiences. The weeks here seem to have merged into one big memory. It definitely does not feel like five weeks have passed since my arrival.

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The first two weeks were particularly special because my parents were also here on holiday and after school we could enjoy all of the amazing places and restaurants together. Then my godfather and his mother came to visit. It does make a difference having family here to share these experiences. However, once my family had gone, I was left to stand on my own two feet. This gave me the opportunity to make incredible friends and experience all of the places from a different perspective as I started to integrate more and more with the locals. It has been amazing getting to know all the lovely people that live in this area. They really are the kindest people I’ve met in a longtime and often they welcome you into their families as if you were a family member.

I would also like to mention my amazing host family. My “mamma italiana” has been incredible and I really wish I could have spent more time with her. I have never met such a kind lady! For anyone reading this and thinking of coming to study at Sant’Anna, if you end up living with this family….you will have the most amazing experience…I can guarantee that now.

Not only have I met a lot of lovely Italians, I have also met a lot of holiday makers who each have their own individual stories of adventure and discovery. I have learnt so much outside of school through contact with various different people. At the time some of the conversations seem to be just general chit-chatter but at the end I always return home feeling like I have learnt a valuable life lesson. There is no place on earth that is as sociable as this amazing place! I urge anyone that has not already tried a course here….to do so! You will not regret it! IMG_2100

NO GLU – Gluten Free in Sorrento

For anyone that suffers from an allergy or intolerance to gluten like I do, coming to Italy can be a bit of a daunting experience seen as most of their main dishes are full of gluten. There is nothing worse than walking past the pizzeria or a nice restaurant and seeing a big bowl of pasta!

Thankfully there are more and more Italians that have also developed an allergy or intolerance to gluten and the gluten free industry is really taking-off here! Piano di Sorrento even has an entire café/restaurant dedicated to gluten free products! Only gluten free products are offered in this café, so there is no risk of contamination from products containing gluten.

Supermarkets in Sorrento and the surrounding areas also have gluten free sections so finding something to cook or something to prepare a picnic with should not be a problem! In Italy, the pharmacy also stocks gluten free products…so no matter where you are, you’ll be able to find something you can eat!

Thankfully Sorrento is a touristy place and therefore the restaurants are very good at catering for people with various allergies. Having tried many of the restaurants here I would recommend Il Fauno and The Foreigner’s Club to anyone with a gluten allergy or intolerance. They both have a page in the menu specially designed to display the gluten free options….this saves the embarrassment of having to ask about the ingredients in each dish! Both of these restaurants also offer handmade gluten free bread in the cover charge (with no extra charge!) and it is yummy! They are also the only two restaurants that I have found that have a list of gluten free puddings. 

Unfortunately not all of the restaurants here cater to this standard for people with allergies. However, the waiters are always very nice and helpful and often offer to make you something that isn’t even on the menu. Last week I went to a lovely restaurant at Marina Grande and was hoping to get a bowl of gluten free pasta. Although they didn’t have gluten free pasta, the owner offered to make me a risotto with the sauce and ingredients of my choice! It was delicious!

Most of the restaurants have menus outside which means you can always check the menu and make sure you are happy with the gluten free range before you sit down!

If you have an hour free I would definitely recommend walking or taking the bus to Piano di Sorrento to go to NO GLU. They have a great range of food and it is the tastiest gluten free food I have ever come across ! I could spend all day there trying all the different cakes, pizzas, breads, biscuits….they all look so scrumptious!

Blu del Cielo?

 

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On of the best things about living in Sorrento is the fact that you find yourself waking up to clear blue skies most days. However, today has been an exception. When I drew back the curtain, I was waiting to see the sun shinning and a glistening blue sky! To my surprise, the sky was grey, the wind was howling and the air pressure was so intense I could feel my head pounding.

Despite the fact grey skies might not have been what I was hoping for….it turned out to be an entertaining change! Sometimes change and variation can be good! I took the bus up to the local town of Piano di Sorrento, one of my favourite places in this area. As per usual, I went to my favourite café on the corner to watch the world go by and relax before starting my day. Just as I sat down with my coffee in my hand…the heavens opened, the lightening struck the cliff side and the thunder grumbled non-stop! I have never experienced a thunderstorm quite like it. Despite the fact I normally hate thunderstorms this one was quite entertaining!

The owner of the café obviously had a plan of action. As he put his wellington boots on and his huge jacket, the rain continued to create a mini river. I watched intensely as cars drove through Piano di Sorrento cautiously. The sheer excitement of it all got everyone in the café talking and it soon become a social hub! The café owner removed the drain covers to try and drain some of the wear before any serious damage could be done to his café! He attached plastic boards to his doorstep and stood outside intensely observing the prevailing situation. 

All of this happened with in the first three hours of my day and I have to say….It is an experience I will never forget! 

As soon as the thunderstorm ended, normality seemed to resume itself as if nothing had happened. I then decided to walk up to the bus stop to return home before the second thunderstorm was due to commence. Unfortunately, the Italian transportation system let me down! As I waited at the bus stop, I noticed there was no bus timetable. I asked a local man in the restaurant opposite the bus stop how often the buses usually run. His response was “they come when they come”. There was also an English couple at the bus stop waiting for the same bus. The couple explained to me that they had been waiting for an hour already and there had been no sign of a bus! Whilst I debated my options, the heavens opened once again and I found myself drenched from head to toe within ten minuets. Walking home was no longer going to be an option! As the cars drove by, the water sprayed up and covered me, plastering my hair to my face and my dress to my body!  I was sure that it would not be possible to get any wetter! …..Until a huge lorry went past…it was as if a tidal wave had just hit me!

Excepting the fact I was already soaking wet and cold, I decided just to wait for the bus and try my best to keep on smiling. My wait was made more entertaining by one of the locals opposite who kept making different hand signals to communicate with me. It is true…in Italy there is not just one main language and lots of different dialects, there is two languages and the language of the hand signals is evidently key for communication. Despite the fact I was not sure of what he was trying to tell me….the situation was very comical and soon put a smile on my face!

Once the bus finally decided to turn up after almost two hours, it was time to return to shelter! When I got off the bus in Piazza Tasso, the first thing I saw was a beautiful bride with the prettiest wedding dress! I could not help but feel sorry for her as she walked towards the wedding car. Despite the umbrella used to protect her hair, the hem of the dress was soaking wet and covered in dirt from the street! But as my Italian friend told me….“A wet bride is a lucky bride” and for the sake of that bride, I hope the saying is true!

Serenity in Sorrento

Searching for Serenity ….

The moment the plane lands at Naples airport, the adventure begins. Having previously been to Sorrento seven times, I was sure I had seen and done it all….yet something inside of me was telling me to return! When the bus pulled around the corner…and I got my first glimpse of Sorrento in the distance, my reasons for wanting to return became so clear! There are no words that can describe such views…they really are breathtaking!

Sunset Boulevard….

On my first evening in Sorrento, I walked to the Moonlight café, which is about ten minuets by foot from the center of Sorrento. I was determined to make it their in time to watch the sunset! As the sunset commenced, everyone went silent! It was such a surreal experience. Tourist were waiting ready with their cameras to get that perfect holiday snap, whilst locals were just beginning to wind down after a long day at work.  It was the perfect end to my first evening in Sorrento….Within four hours of landing in Italy, I had found the serenity I was looking for!

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The sunrise is almost as exciting as the sunset. As the sunrises, Sorrento comes back to life, as the streets start to fill with the sound of vespas. On my first morning in Italy, all I wanted to hear was a vespa. For some reason, that is when I always feel like “I’m home!”. Even though I am not Italian and this is not my hometown, there is something so magical about this place that makes it feel like home no matter how long I stay. When I go to bed, I often leave my window open just to fill the room with the sound of vespas and locals chatting away in Italian…it’s a very comforting sound.

The walk to work could not be more picturesque. The walk should only take me 10 minuets, yet I leave myself at least 40 minuets. I always find myself stopping in Piazza Tasso to absorb the atmosphere and the first view I come to of the sea. I then walk another 5 minuets and find myself stopping again outside the Syrene Hotel. The view is breathtaking. It’s like looking through a picture frame and discovering the magic!

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Although the views are amazing, there is more to Sorrento than just the landscapes. The morning buzz is incredible. For anyone looking for the true Italian experience, I reccomend going to a local bar/café at 8.30am in the morning. This is the time that most of the locals call in for a quick catch-up and an espresso. It really is a unique experience and a great way to start your day! Feeling stressed or anxious just is not an option in a place like this!

On my second night in Sorrento, I wanted the same sunset experience but I did not want to repeat the night before. Therefore, I decided to head down to the Marina Grande. This is my favourite place to go in an evening. There is such a peaceful atmosphere…the sound of the waves as they hit the sand, the sound of the local man singing and the whistling of the old folk! On my way down to the Marina, I found an incredible café on the steps. The views that this café offer are second to none! I sat for at least two hours enjoying the view before I went for a leisurely walk along the harbour. The locals have a lot to play in the creating of the perfect holiday experience! It is true….Southern Italians are definitely amongst the friendliest people in the world! I have never met such lovely, friendly, open people…and I have lived in several other European countries!

Everyday here is an adventure. Everyday here is a memory. Everyday here is a day I will never forget!