“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.”
― Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
Happiness was crawling around in the dirt covered in pine needles, capturing funghi.
No man has ever created or could ever possibly create anything more beautiful than nature, in all its seasons.
‘Chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans have been living for hundreds of thousands of years in their forest, living fantastic lives, never overpopulating, never destroying the forest. I would say that they have been in a way more successful than us as far as being in harmony with the environment’. – Jane Goodall
‘Change happens by listening and then starting a dialogue with the people who are doing something you don’t believe is right’. – Jane Goodall
Marseille has been described as ‘the grit in the Cote d’Azur oyster’ and even though I have never thought of Marseille as being part of the Cote d’Azur or French Riviera I love the analogy, and its also exactly how I love a city; raw, spirited, edgy and old, 2600 years old! Making it the oldest city in France.
An ancient port city founded by the Phoenicians and earlier known as Massilia or Massalia.
The old port was where I gravitated to each morning, the light being of such beauty that I’d jump out of bed and race the 15 minute walk, each morning quicker than the one before, desperate not to miss a second of it.
Surrounded by honey colored forts, the port is bursting with gleaming sailing boats, and watched over by the magnificent Cathedral Notre Dame de la Garde set up high on Garde hill. Here I photographed the small mediterranean fishing boats arriving into shore with their catch, trailed by flocks of hungry sea gulls, and the bustling fish market that sat only meters from the boats.
I shamelessly stalked the sublime MuCEM, located at the entrance of the port (a National museum dedicated to the cultures of the Mediterranean) returning over and over again at different times of the short winter day to photograph the changing light filtering through its stunning and perfectly square facade of lace like concrete.
Marseille is a colorful city with an intoxicating mix of cultures, architecture, scents, tastes, experiences, art, culture and people, its a city and coastline that deserves your attention at any time of the year.
There is something magical about Christmas in Europe; something to do with the weather, the lights that spring to life late in the afternoon, woolly jumpers and snuggly coats, hot chocolates and open fires… and I am so happy and grateful to be able to enjoy it here in the south of France this year.
Sending you all loads of Christmas cheer, bubbles and great times for the holidays, and may your new year be filled with all the wonderful surprises that life can throw your way.
The Amalfi coast in Italy needs no introduction from me, suffice to say that it is one of the world’s most popular and beautiful tourist destinations. The coastline is dramatic and mediterranean gorgeous, beauty is everywhere you look and it is to be found both on and off the beaten path, on land and on water.
If however you are like me and don’t like crowds then my advice would be to absolutely avoid the months of July and August. If you can’t avoid them as we couldn’t, then perhaps think about basing yourselves in one of the smaller and lesser known (but equally as stunning) towns or villages on the coast, or set back in the hinterland overlooking the coastline (see Solaria below for a tranquil beautiful get away from it all B & B), which leads me to a word of thanks to Emilio and his wife Angela.
One day when I felt an itch to explore the area further I ran into the Positano tourist office asking if anyone could help me locate a lemon grower, a cheese maker or any other farmer in the area. As fate would have it on that particular day I was led to Emilio Lucibello.
Emilio generously suggested I meet him up in a tiny hamlet called Tovere (only 7 kms from Amalfi) set back from the busy coast in a hinterland of green terraced gardens, lemon groves and small parcels of farm land overlooking the sea, and where his neighbours just happen to make some of the best cheese on the coast, supplying many of the restaurants in the area.
On our arrival a few days later we were warmly greeting by Emilio, Angela and their son Domenico whose kind hospitality included some of Angelia’s delicious homemade cake and sweet Italian coffee.
It is in this tiny hamlet surrounded by the scent of lemon trees and overlooking the mediterranean that they have restored an old farmhouse into a modern functioning and tranquil B&B, Solaria, only minutes from the coast but a world away from the crowds.
Thank you Emiio and Angela for your warm hospitality, and for your introduction to Gregorio, Carmela and Luigi who so kindly let us into their world of cheese making and allowed me to photograph them at work. I hope to see you all again one day soon.
More Amalfi coast images can be seen in my portfolio