Amanda Hunt - October 2022 

Love Letters to Italy

This summer I travelled to to Southern Italy, a place I have been dreaming of going for most of my life. I am half Italian and grew up with a full blooded Italian father in a household that was drenched in the culture. But somehow in all my travels post college and into my 30's, I never made it to Italy.

As time went on, the trip began to feel like more of a necessity. I needed to step foot on the same ground as my ancestors. I needed to go back to the beginning of this part of me and learn more about myself through the lens of Italy.

My trip began and ended in Rome, with a journey to Pompeii, Sorrento, Positano, and Naples in between.  Here are some of my love letters to these places, my photo album, and a short list of my favorite things. 
I hope they transport you to the beauty that is Southern Italy.  

Dear Rome,

You're so green.

This was the first thing I noticed. Trees line your streets and ivy hangs from your balconies. A weaving of lush green life between your ancient cobblestone streets, sun washed buildings, and faded ruins.

This new meets old is very YOU.

To know you is to wander down tiny alleyways and discover beauty around every corner. To stumble upon fountains, piazzas, cafes, and little altars. To pass a 2000 year old monument (I see you Colosseum) while everyone is just going about their modern lives around it. Your history is old and rich but you are ALIVE. 

There is a simple beauty in just walking your streets, watching your people, and hearing the song of your language.  Eating at outdoor cafes in the middle of the day and strolling home on a warm night, gelato in hand.

To me, this was what it meant to discover you, Rome. To hear the way nature mingled with your city sounds...taxis, birds, church bells, and running water. 
The coexistence of the past and the future in an incredibly lively presence. 

Dear Sorrento,

You smell like citrus and jasmine.
And the sea…

Life seemed to slow down the moment I arrived.  My days ebbed and flowed at your pace not mine. Each day your ancient beauty slowly unfolded in a quiet grounding calm.

Your orchards filled the air with the smell of ripe fruit, humid greens, and fresh soil. I have never seen a lemon so massive.  I gazed across the gulf of Naples at your sunsets and felt small in the shadow of your famous volcano across the sea. I marveled at your cliffs, wondering what secrets they held from ships sailed so long ago.  I layed down in your ocean sand, black with the ash of Vesuvius, and heard my ancestors in the wind. 

It felt like home to swim in your sea. So different than any other sea I’ve been in, cold and warm at the same time. Different than the Pacific I grew up in. I will never forget the feeling of floating face up to the sun, listening to the stories of the sea, and falling in love with you. 

Dear Naples,

I have heard about you for so long. You are the birthplace of my name.

When I told my dad I was finally going to visit, he said, “When you find a phone book look up Bassolino…there will be at least a page of names. Then rip it out and bring it home!” I told him that I didn’t think phonebooks existed anymore, but he was too excited to even hear that. Too excited for me to be in the city my great grandfather immigrated from and the place of my family name on my paternal side.

On our one day together I could already see how alive you are and how fiercely your people love you. Your narrow streets, your laundry drying, your fish stands, your honking horns, and duct taped vespas. Your grit and your mystery.

Your pizza. 

Meeting you was one more stepping stone in my exploration of my paternal family line. I am curious and inspired. Thank you for holding me so kindly in your tangled mosaic for one day. And thank you for kicking me down the path of discovering further, what it means for me to be Italian.

The Bassolino's in Naples


My Favorites


In Rome-
Colosseum to Trastevere walk. 
If you map it to include the Pantheon in your route, it is about a 45 minute journey and takes you by some notable sites before crossing you over the Tiber River into Trastevere. Trastevere is one of the prettiest neighborhoods in Rome with its narrow cobblestone streets and colorful buildings dripping with ivy. This neighborhood really comes alive at night.  I really loved this walk because it gave me a good sense of the city. 


In Rome-
Pesciolino Fish Bar + Restaurant - @pesciolinoroma
La Ciambella - @laciambellabaravin
Roscioli Restaurant, Deli, and Takeout - @rosciolisalumeria - Not to be missed!

In Naples-
Pizzeria da Michele - @pizzeriadamichele
Delicious and worth the wait. Don’t let the swarm of tourists fool you, this is the place.

In Sorrento-
Officina 82 - @officina_82
Run by a mother and son.  Intimate and delicious.


The Nasoni in Rome
The Nasoni were one of my favorite things about Rome. They are beautiful drinkable fountains, and there are more than 2,500 across the city. The water comes straight from the mountains traveling via the famous aqueducts built by the ancient Romans. The water is cool and delicious and free to the public.  It felt luxurious to be able to fill my water bottle whenever I needed. The Nasoni feel like a gift from the city to its people.  


Parco dei Principi Sorrento - @parcodeiprincipisorrento
The dreamiest hotel with Mid-Century decor and a view that will take your breath away. 

words + snaps by Amanda Hunt


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