postcards - stefano tripodi's amalfi coast

We asked the Italian photographer to show us the tourist hotspot from a local’s eye view.

These days you’ll find Stefano Tripodi kicking about in the vibrant, fashion-focused city of Milan, but the photographer was born and bred on the Amalfi Coast – a heavenly seaside destination in the south of Italy. With a lingering soft spot for the part of the world he once called home, we asked him to take us on a virtual tour and show us the tourist hotspot from a local’s eye view.

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Firstly, please tell us a little bit about the neighbourhood that you live in. I do not think we can talk of a neighbourhood. I live in a coastal area, but often I spend my time in Milan for work-related matters. The houses are scattered along the mountain and down to the sea. Moreso we can speak of a single conurbation crammed full of roads with different names.

What kind of house/apartment do you live in? Is it typical of the architecture in that area? My house is a typical villa on the Amalfi Coast. Many years ago it was inhabited by landowners, then passed into the hands of my family. My grandfather worked as a glassmaker at Ceramiche Solimene, one of the few projects carried out by the architect Paolo Soleri.

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What kind of stereotype has the Amalfi Coast earned, and how is it different to what people expect? The Amalfi Coast has suffered a lot in the ’60s as a tourist spot linked to the films of Sofia Loren and the producer Carlo Ponti. Many tourists come to look for those feelings. They want to see the sunset and take a boat ride. But Amalfi was first of all a great naval power. You should try to find this glorious past by walking along the coast and visiting the ancient watchtowers.

How is your city changing? On the one hand my city has never changed and never will change. Here you can live in a time suspended. It’s like being in a sort of Olympus. From another point of view, the city changes because it must follow the course of contemporary life. But I have a feeling that this will not do well with the locals. Maybe here think you should only marry nature and live in communion with her.

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What album do you think would be the best soundtrack for walking around? Surely Bloom by Beach House.

If you had a day to take an Australian around your town on a Sunday afternoon, what would you do? I would take them to fish at night, eat freshly caught fish and get to know the farmers who grow the hundred-year-old vineyards overlooking the sea. Then I would end the day with a good drink on board a small boat, together with my best friends.

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What is the local creative community like? Are there predominant local crafts? There are great craftsmen in the city. They are mainly involved in pottery making. Then there’s the ancient craft of papermaking. Amalfi was one of the most important paper manufacturers in the world. Finally, of course, everything about the food. Small producers of anchovies over time have become masters at producing a kind of juice extracted by maceration of anchovies. They have taken an old custom brought by the monks. This juice is perfect with pasta. It collects drop by drop, and is as precious as gold. We call it “colatura” (dripping).

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How does your city change with the seasons? How has this influenced your work? Light is everything in my work. When the seasons change the sea and the sky and then the black of the mountains give the landscape aspects that are always different. My pictures are often very bright. It is the light that I have always seen here. The colour of the air is luminous even though we are in the middle of winter. This is fortunate especially for fishermen.

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Tell us about the spaces and places you have photographed for us. I photographed the manufacturing industry of ceramics built by Soleri, some villas that are very familiar to me and belonged to great directors like Zeffirelli. Then the orange gardens and the producers of anchovies. Finally, the paths that leads from the mountains to the sea and the boat of a fisherman which often becomes a picnic table. These are places that just a few can see. The tourist gaze is always horizontal. But it should be vertical.

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Where is the best place to have a picnic? Certainly in a citrus grove overlooking the sea. Just sit high above the city.

Where is the best place to see a gig? Not far from Amalfi there’s a beautiful town which is called Ravello. Every year they hold a festival dedicated to jazz and symphonic music. Do not miss it.

Where is the best place to get a drink? The best thing is to buy a good bottle of wine and two wine glasses and go to drink it on the beach. The best wineries in the area are Marisa Cuomo, Reale and Tenuta San Francesco.

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Where is the best place to catch a film? Sometimes locals do film screenings at the beach. There are no cinemas in Amalfi and perhaps in no towns along the coast. Who would want to see a movie when you know you are in it?

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  • photography
  • travel
  • italy

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    Michelle

    Author of many travel blogs and user of www.travelmustard.com