LIFE/From Tuscia to Costiera: a love letter to the South


I don’t believe in love at first sight.

But this week I found myself falling right away – not for a person, but rather a place.

There’s something seductive about southern Italy, which I will try to describe with words but really has to be experienced on one’s own. I don’t know that I can pinpoint just what got me, whether it was the first kiss of sun on my skin in Sorrento, the scent of spring’s first flowers in Ravello or the sea water tickling my toes in Capri.

I almost wish I never experienced Naples’ pizza, so I wouldn’t know now to crave its doughy goodness. I don’t think that anything could envelop my eyes like the Amalfi coast. And it would be hard to appreciate any other garden as much as that of the 18th century Royal Palace of Caserta.

In Naples, I contemplated with curiosity the Farnese sculptures in the Archeological Museum, and I explored the dark, eerie underground of Naples by candlelight. Wandering around the ruins of Pompeii had me in absolute awe. Vesuvio took my breath away, with its grandeur and mysteriousness, pouting steam with a threat of repeating history.

In Sorrento, I was completely charmed by the colorful buildings of Marina Grande, the orange trees lining the streets and the sunsets shared from the perfect panoramic view of the bay.

My heart beat sped up as I flew over white-washed Anacapri in a cable car. I admired the little shops full of linen clothes and sandal makers practicing their craft for all to see.

On the last day of the trip, I lay barefoot in the grass of the garden at the palace in Caserta with friends, eating lunch with a front row seat for the waterfalls. I felt free as I sped down the hill on a bicycle, which felt like a novelty since I haven’t ridden one in months.

In those moments, I tried to take it all in, all the little details and senses. I knew that those sights, smells and feelings were things I had to remember.

Thank you southern Italy, for reawakening my soul. I will be back again.

Risa Johnson  studentessa USAC

Hi everyone, I am a journalism student from Chico, California. I study Italian and journalism at the Università degli Studi della Tuscia. In my free time, I enjoy eating Italian food, creative writing, being outdoors and traveling as much as possible.

Ciao tutti, sono una studentessa di giornalismo di Chico in California. Studio Italiano e giornalismo all’Università degli Studi della Tuscia. Nel mio tempo libero, mi piace mangiare il cibo Italiano, scrivere creative, stare all’aperto e viaggiare per quanto possibile.