Benvenuti a Santa Maria di Castellabate
Do you have a spiritual home? Good. So do I. Actually I have a 3: The Lake District (it’s a Pendle Witch thing), San Francisco (it’s true, you do leave your heart there) and Italy. Italy Italy Italy.
Why? Well, I’ve actually just googled ‘spiritual home’ and the powers that be describe it as: “a place where you feel you belong, although you were not born there, because you have a lot in common with the people, the culture, and the way of life”.
Italy is just: oooshk / mmmmm / eeeeeeee! / oooooh / waaaaaaa.
I’ll try and put it into words. It’s the people, the food, the feel, the loosen up, the welcome home.
When I first started my photography journey I booked a photographic holiday in Tuscany. That is where I learned to shoot manual exploring some of the most beautiful villages, chapels and countryside I’ve ever seen. I look back and my buttocks still clench at the sight of the images. Not because they’re amazing, but because of what they represent to me personally.
When I had a: oh-my-god-my-life-is-over-because-i’m-turning-thirty crisis; I turned to Italy. I took myself to Verona to go to the opera because it was on my bucket list. Even though it took hours longer because of the rain and I got sat next to an old Russian guy called Sergei (not a meercat); it was awesome.
I’ve been on a family holiday to Lake Garda and I stopped dead in my tracks and cried when I saw the lake for the first time; it really is that heavenly.
Every time, Italy DELIVERS. I am a lucky gal.
Do I know everything about the country? No. Do I speak the language? No – unless being able to say: “Where is the main road?” in Italian counts?. Have I extensively explored Italy? No. Do I intend to go back at every available opportunity to discover more? You bet your ass I am (I’m saying that in a Judge Judy accent so you can appreciate the full effect).
So when you see: The Secret Retreat and you realise that it’s a photography workshop in Italy, the bells in my little tiny mind ring LOUD. Could I get in last year? Nope – not a chance in hell. It sells out quicker than Glastonbury it’s that popular. It’s a gorgeous photography 4 day workshop run by photographer extraordinaire’s Andrea Ellison, Claire Penn and Lucy Woodow, that meets in the middle with My Secret Italy; a bespoke wedding planning service run by Julie McKenzie and her daughter Emillie.
Before I delve into the three shoot’s that I was lucky enough to experience, I wanted to give you a bit of a feel for the area of Santa Maria di Castellabate (affectionately called Twinkle Town by Julie and Emillie). It’s on the Amalfi Coast and we got a chance to experience so many sides to the town: the heights of Castellabate, the beach, the town.
I admit, I didn’t take pictures of absolutely everything during our down time. Because, selfishly, I wanted to keep a little bit of it for me. To put the camera down and experience it. To enjoy a late night Aperol Spritz, to dance my backside off at the pool party, to close my eyes and feel the sun on my back. It’s a bit like when I see people at a concert watching it through the back of their phone while they’re filming it. I want to shake them and say: “you’re missing it”.
I didn’t want to miss this. Italy is always far too good to miss. xx