07.10.19 // I Made It, Amalfi Coast Edition

I made it. 

Standing on the top of Mt. Tre Cali, we had a panoramic view of the Tyrrhenian Sea. One that I thought I’d only ever get to see through a screen. 

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We were told by our guide that this would be the most challenging, but also one of the most beautiful hikes of the week - and it didn’t disappoint. We started off, like most of our hikes, from our Agriturismo in Furore. An absolutely stunning farm/16th century monastery turned guesthouse that was our home for the week. It sits high on up on the mountains, giving us a breath taking view of the sea every morning, meal, and night. 

We headed along the small path that weaved through the mountain side, passing caves and hillside farms until we got to Bomerano. There we passed our starting place for our hike 2 days ago, a beautiful hike called the Path of Gods (trust me, it lives up to its name), and stopped for a quick espresso. Up and up we climbed through the “milky mountains” named after the region’s mozzarella production. Naturally I had done some quality assurance testing throughout the week, you know, to make sure the name is legitimate (it was). Huffing and puffing we climbed through small pathways heading the top, we passed a local old woman taking a huge stack of grass to her farm. We had looked like we’d already done the hike twice at that point, but she just smiled and waved up all through, happy to wait out on the hills she was obviously accustomed too (didn’t feel AS bad ass after that not going to lie). 

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About an hour and a half later, passed rocky hills and sandy paths, we made it to the top. Well, we thought we got to the top of the mountain before, until we turned around and saw someone on a peak we missed about 20 meters higher. Flash forward, we climbed that last peak, and ACTUALLY made it to the top. 

I looked on my left over the dots of houses that we passed on our way up, our tour guide told us that it’s nicknamed the Switzerland of the region, the red roofs and luscious green valleys made it easy to see why. Looking straight out over the sea, you could barely see the horizon, at first I thought it was smog blocking the view, but it was the clouds, I’d never been that high up before. Looking to my right I saw what looked like a cluster of multi coloured paint splashes on the coast, the town of Positano. When we hiked along the Path of Gods we went all the way from our Agriturismo in Furore, along the mountain path, and down 1,700 steps to Positano. From the peak, I squinted my eyes and saw our little agriturismo, a lone proud tree sticking out of the hill as a marker, and followed the path we walked 2 days prior along the rugged terrain all the way to the colourful little town. 

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Past that, the Island of Capri stood tall; I watched white boats and yachts that seemed, from up there, as big as my thumb nail race back and forth between the posh island. Just one day before we were on one of those boats sailing around Capri for the day. I remembered passing by the bronze statue of “Gennarino, O ’Scugnizzo di Capri’”, asking him if we could come to the island, thanking him and waving Ciao to. I remember seeing the White Grotto, with a statue of Virgin Mary right beyond the entrance. I remember jumping into the sea, splashing around beside huge Yachts (including, apparently, Jeff Bezo’s) and looking out to an endless view of the clear waters. And I remember laughing a lot on the boat ride back because my roommate bought an over sized lemon, a “sfumato Amalfitano”, and started reacting the iconic Titanic scene on the bow.  

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If it sounds overly idyllic and romanticized - it’s because it was. There’s was so much beauty in the Amalfi coast that it’s hard to describe it without sounding like a sappy poet. Every night after our hikes through these amazing forests and mountains, we would return to our Agriturismo for a home cooked meal but the owners Michaela and Nicolo. They showed us how to make pasta from scratch, made the most delicious tiramisu for us, gave us eggs that the chickens we passed every morning on our way out hatched. Their home became ours for the week as we danced with their daughter Giovanna, and played foosball with their son Luigi and the waiter Antonio.

And when I say I made it. I wasn’t just talking about the hike. 

For me that trip was more than just a stunning trip along the coast, it was my first ever solo trip to Europe, and at the beginning of the year, I didn’t think it would be possible. For the last 4 years I’ve suffered from Anorexia Nervosa, it has been a long journey of ups and downs, going in and out of treatment programs. But in the winter of 2019 I left school (again) to fully focus on recovery, and a month before the trip departed I had the full faith of my team and my parents to book the adventure, I had began to eat normally for the first time in a long time, I gained the weight I was in desperate need to get back, and I worked to change my detrimental belief system that told me food was a way to maintain control. It was and still is the best my health has been throughout this whole journey. 

I spent a week not only exploring the coast line, but getting back to a place where I felt like myself, something that hasn’t happened for years. At lows in my illness I had a heart rate of 35 bpm, I was told I couldn’t walk around the block because my heart was in danger. I had lived so long restricting all kinds of foods that everyone around me enjoyed, at the same time isolating myself from my friends and family, and having some of the darkest days in my life.

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There, I enjoyed gelato overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea (tastes even better there I swear). I got to laugh with a group of complete strangers for a week, becoming weirdly close with a group whose age spanned 40 years and came from multiple countries around the world. I got to enjoy the delicious Italian cooking we feasted on every night, sharing a jug of white wine with peaches around the table. I didn’t have this small vision of what my life had to look like, the rules that I made for myself when I was sick or anxious were easier to brush aside. I felt happy and independent, something the eating disorder takes away from you. 

Looking back at my group of the top of the Mountain, I felt so proud of myself for taking the risk to go on this trip. It was hard at times, obviously, but the rewards of travelling by myself and getting outside my comfort zone paid off a million times over. 

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I made it. 

Kate Farrell