Hello, I am Laëtitia Vallée and here is my story of 6 months I spent in the small village of Tramonti (South Italy) between working for an environmental NGO, writing my thesis and visiting with a pizza in a hand, an ice cream in the other one.
THE ARRIVAL IN SPRING IN TRAMONTI
At the beginning of March 2020, after 10 long hours of bus, 1 hour of train, 45 minutes of bus and 20 minutes of another bus, I finally reach the beautiful valley of Tramonti, my home for following 6 months starting today.
The reason that brought me here is my final internship to finalize my master of landscape and environmental economy in order to work in environmental and international organizations. That is my dream job but one thing at a time.
The first week-end, Séraphine (another intern) and I jump in a bus direction Napoli. If you ask me to describe Napoli, I would say: crazy. All of your senses would be in panic by the smells coming from restaurants, the loud talks of Italians, the colors of clothes hanging in the streets, the delicious taste of the Margherita pizza, etc.
AN UNEXPTECTED TURN
Nevertheless, does “Coronavirus” ring a bell for you? If yes, you would guess that Coronavirus is stronger than my desire of adventure, the lock-down is announced only a few days later for the duration of 1 month. Then it will be extended for 2 months and re-extended until beginning of May. So, I keep spending my quarantine in a gorgeous place surrounding by mountains, between terraces and tomatoes with the collegues, dogs and sheep! After all, I have the best view of an office could have: the other side of the valley is changing though the season from brown to green with in a middle the church of Figlino. I live the quarantine like a kind of an ideal experience to concentrate on my thesis. For the very first time in my studies, I literally got absorbed by the subject of study. During the cold and windy months, my time is shared between working, eating, cooking. I belong to the type of person who learn how to make bread during quarantine but I raise the level by helping to make the ancient pizza of Tramonti. No need to explain how important food is to Italians (the secret is to talk to the food), I learn how to appreciate each ingredient in a plate.
THE SEA, EVENTUALLY
The weeks and months passed by, until, one day, the end of lockdown arrived! The first day of visit feels like immersing into the breathtaking pictures I saw on websites. I cannot keep my eyes at one place, every little paths seem like an invitation to discover an authentic place and being amazed. The lemon path honor his name with the numerous terraces covered by yellow fruits bigger than oranges. The yellow competes with the blue of the Mediterranean sea for the brightest color. The path leads to the gorgeous city of Minori and after few turns on the road, we arrive on Atrani, the smallest city of the Amalfi Coast in which it’s easy being lost into the labyrinth of white and narrow stairs. Since the end of lock-down we are dutifully practicing sight-seeing every weekend and dealing with stiffness of leg’s muscles. If you visit the Amalfi Coast, be prepared to walk up and down the stairs because it is the only way to visit the cities. You have to know that the transport is one of the biggest problem of the coast, especially for interns without a car. Still in the context of Coronavirus, Séraphine and I are obviously noticeable thanks to our blue eyes and white skin. So once, we face a conflict with a bus driver who doesn’t believe us to live in Tramonti but to be instead tourists who pass the frontier despite the closing of the country. Shared between anger and shock we had to prove to the police we are legally in Italy. Adding to the suspicion for bus drivers, the rule of bus schedules is still mysterious even after 6 months. The rule seems to be “there is no rule”. So, the only solution is hitchhiking, and thankfully it is working pretty well.
To put in a nutshell, these 6 months were unique, peaceful and joyful despite the pandemic situation. I will definitely keep in memory the beauty of the mountains, the Coast downwards and the Italian lifestyle in general.
* Laëtitia Vallée, graduate of Politic and Markets of Agriculture and Ressources at the University of Agrocampus Ouest in Angers, France. Passionate about cultural landscapes and terraces.
„In CoSTORYera“: Living on the terraces of the Amalfi Coast. Storytelling is a powerful tool to share an experience and a message with an audience. In this new series, we want to use this tool in order to show what this cultural patrimony, this UNESCO World Heritage Site, “feels like”. People will share their story, they will share a story that they lived here.