How to find your paradise
Is there just one kind? Some ways to define it. Plus, a guide to the Amalfi Coast, a trippy summer read, and how to pack with a character in mind.
My idea of paradise used to be pretty distinct: a white sand beach, endless waves, and palm trees waving in the breeze.
Eventually I went somewhere that had these things—a perfect white sand beach, endless waves, palm trees waving in the breeze—the whole shebang.
While I was there, I saw a hand-painted sign. “This is a paradise,” it read. “Be kind.”
A paradise? I’d never thought there were other types. Or, that to enjoy paradise fully, you must meet it with a certain frame of mind.
This is a paradise. Be kind.
Now I think about this all the time. Paradise can come in many forms.
It just requires one key thing—the open heart that you bring.
“Life is paradise, and we are all in paradise, but we refuse to see it,” said Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky. French poet Pierre-Jean de Beranger said “paradise is open to all kind hearts.” And Dolly Parton put it simply: “paradise is a state of mind.” Here’s some of what you said paradise is when I recently asked—so many good ones!
“A calm nervous system.”
“Living authentically in an environment that nurtures the soul and mind.”
“Anywhere that I feel peaceful—a beach, a lake; quiet time at home.”
“Not thinking about anything but where you are and who you’re with.”
“Freedom to do what I enjoy.”
“Being surrounded by nature’s beauty.”
“A quiet mind and a calm, happy heart.”
“Where I can be myself.”
The Tyrrhenian sea is just one version of a paradise that I know. Its colors change all the time—from high on a cliff, it’s a deep sapphire; from low on the beach, a pale jade-green. This sea is just a small part of the larger Mediterranean, but its mystique runs deep—legend has it that, not so long ago, pirates roamed its waves and sirens lurked within its coves. This sea is the heartbeat of the Amalfi Coast.
I’ve been lucky to visit the Amalfi Coast exactly three times, and with each trip, its magic takes a firmer hold. The corner of the Coast that I know best is Marina del Cantone, a quaint stretch of pebbled bay tucked just below the tiny mountain village of Nerano. Miles from the better-known towns of Positano and Amalfi, the vibe here is rustic and low-key; more timeless and charming than luxurious and chic. It’s often said that this is where the rest of Italy fades away and the Amalfi Coast officially begins.
It is certainly where it begins for me, both in heart and in memory.
This tranquil area is filled with hidden treasures—tiny restaurants accessible only by boat or foot; hilly pathways that meander to secret coves; ancient villages where shrouded nonnas peek out from high windows. It’s sun-swept and breezy, quiet and relaxed—a place where mornings start with a dark espresso and rooster calls; where walks amongst bougainvillea and lemon trees are set to the soundtrack of distant church bells; where long lunches of just-caught cicala lobster and crisp glasses of Fiano are each day’s main event. This is the Amalfi Coast that I dream of all year long—hoping with fingers crossed and eyes closed that I’ll be lucky enough to experience its magic once again.
Because of this, I’m often asked for advice on where to stay, what to do, and where to eat. My recommendations really just come down to one important tip—
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