One of the greatest trips with breathtaking views are around the Amalfi Coast, the Vespa is one of the preferred transportations when it comes to getting around those narrowed roads
Going to the Amalfi Coast is certainly memorable and a unique experience, the story of Amalfi is linked to the nymph Melphe, the apple of Hercule’s eye and the legend says that he built a city so high on the cliffs to buried her when she died but there is another theory; when Romans lived here in the IV century named it Melfi.
In recent years Unesco has included the Amalfi Coast in its world Heritage sites
Suspended between the sea, sky ad earth the state road 163 twists and turns in an almost never ending path around the Coast, it has stunning views from every corner. In the 19th century access to the Amalfi coast was very difficult and possible only by the mountains in mules. By the 1900’s the isolation of this part of Italy attracted many travelers. In Edwardian times the coast became a destination of choice by British aristocrats, later actors such as Humphrey Bogart, Greta Garbo and Sophia Loren brought fame to the area.
You can find some of the best well kept secret restaurants of Italy (Michellin stars and local eateries) with amazing menus that are well worth the narrowed roadside trip and the headache.
A view from the Amalfi coastline
Arriving to Nerano
The first stop in the Amalfi coast is the quiet fishermen village of Nerano, part of Massa Lubrense. Below is the town of Marina del Cantone popular for its small seafront and restaurants, here is the Star Michelin Restaurant “La Taverna del Capitano”
Fior di zucca ripiena (stuffed zucchini flower) How beautiful is to eat a flower stuffed with fresh ricotta cheese on a bed of summer tomato sauce.
Taverna del Capitano; a family tradition from grandfather Alfonso to son Salvatore Caputo who is one of the youngest recognized star Chefs of Southern Italy. Pictured here marinated spigola (European sea bass) covered with grilled aubergine, with zucchinis in julienne, cherry tomatoes and a bed of aromatic herb sauce. I paired this dish with Marisa Cuomo’s Amalfi Coast Fior D’Uva wine.
Spaghetti alla Nerano, since you are in Nerano you must try this fresh hand made pasta which definitely tastes better with the fantastic view. It is characteristic with the bold flavors of the Provolone del Monaco cheese and slices of zucchini.
On my way to Positano I stopped to admire the view
View from Le Sirenuse Hotel in Positano, great place for an aperitif at sunset
Positano. In 1953 John Steinbeck wrote that “Positano bites deep, it is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone”
The view from Le Sirenuse Hotel opened in 1951 when the Marchesi Sersale turned their summer house in to a charming Hotel.
Mozzarella di Bufala. I stopped at Next Café in Positano to savor this fresh traditional soft cheese eaten only within a day or so of being made, solely from the milk of water buffalo. In the Amalfi coast the Buffalo mozzarella is produced in Tramonti.
On my way to Praiano, Marina di Praia
Before arriving to Amalfi I had to make a stop and contemplate the Fiordo of Furore, fishermen houses clinging on the rocky mountains. Be aware of the many steps you will need to climb from the road to the beach and careful with that 2 way road that fits only one car at a time.
Amalfi has the glamour of the once glorious maritime Republic, the Duomo di St Andrea was founded in the 9th century and rebuilt in Romanesque style in the 11th century. The campanile is is decorated with Arabic like interlaced arches, typical of the Southern Italian Romanesque.
A pause at Piazza Duomo before heading to one of my favorite restaurants “Da Gemma”
Fresh fish is important part of the Amalfi cuisine, the flavor and freshness of the fish should shine and not be masked with many flavors
The food from the Amalfi coast features fish seasoned with lemons and herbs. Pictured here sea bass served at Da Gemma paired with the local white wine Marisa Cuomo’s Costa d’Amalfi Furore is a superb blend of 60% Falanghina grapes and 40% Biancolella
“Parmigiana di Melanzane al Cioccolato” (Baked Aubergine with chocolate) is a hybrid made for dessert with eggplant covered in hot chocolate sauce and chips of caramelized fruit, sugar covered almonds and nuts served with vanilla ice cream and a syrup snowflake for garnish
Sweet ending once more with macchiato (as I can’t take my espresso is too strong) and a variety of home made cookies and flavored popcorn
Ravello was part of the Duchy of Amalfi in the 9th century. Villa Rufolo is one of Ravello’s landmarks with Arabic elements and a mixture of 13th and 14th centuries architectural styles
A view from Villa Rufolo’s amphitheater, the Ravello’s annual Music Festival takes place here in July. Also in this place is where Richard Wagner got his inspiration to write his Opera “Parsifal”
Maiori, Minori and Cetara
the next towns along the coastline are Maiori, Minori and Cetara where the ancient Maritime Republic arsenals were situated, dates back to Roman times.
Stopping at Sal Di Riso’s bakery is a must while in Minori, Salvatore di Riso was the first Pastry Chef from Southern Italy to be admitted in to the prestigious Italian Master Pastry Chef Academy. His renowned cakes and desserts are world famous, Pope John Paul II approved.
Vietri sul Mare
Arriving to Vietri sul Mare will lead you to some traditional shops where you can get the best deals on majolica ceramic that made so popular this part of the Coast, these hand painted utensils have been made here since the 1400
After my last stop at Vietri sul Mare I am ready to head back to Naples. I love to go to the Amalfi Coast in winter as well.
I made my way back by the woods instead of using the coastline road. The first traces of snow were there in November and it was extremely cold but as a sunny Floridian I had to touch the snow, I just had to
A room with a view from The cloisters of San Martino in Naples
Continuing with our trips around Naples at the top of the hill is one of the most important monuments in the city, the Certosa di San Martino (San Martino’s charterhouse). You can reach this part of town from Chiaia via de funiculars or by Vespa which is the best way of transportation in Naples due to traffic, the narrowed streets and of course…the parking, besides getting around on a Vespa can only make your trip in Italian cities even more authentic.
After the unification of Italy the San Martino cloisters were drastically restructured. Originally built in the XIV century, part of the complex was turned in to a Museum. From there the dramatic views of the Gulf of Naples and the Vesuvius.
In 1325 the construction of the cloister begun under the rules of Charles of Anjou. The Monastery was deconsecrated in 1806 and since 1866 became a Museum displaying the greatest pieces of Neapolitan art and history
Carthusian monks lived in the Monastery designed by Giovanni Antonio Dosio at the end of the XVI century. The original look dramatically changed over the years with Baroque and Mannerist rebuilding.
Inside the Museum of San Martino there are permanent and itinerant exhibitions like the Bourbon Royal Boat from an exhibit in collaboration with the Naval Museum of Naples.
From the Aragonese to the Bourbon dynasties the Museum of San Martino presents important pieces dedicated to the Kingdom of Naples.
The Nativity scenes (Presepe) became a form of art and a very important part of the Neapolitan tradition in the 19th century. This part of the Museum dedicates an entire section to The Presepe.
Another scene of the Nativity I found on display at The Grand Hotel Vesuvio in Naples during the presentation of the “Duemilla Vini” guide to the wines in Italy. Note the attention to the details and how simple acts of life take active part in the Presepe Napoletano
Even Pulcinella is part of the Presepe (Nativity) Pulcinella is a classical character from the “commedia dell’arte” and is a tradition in the Neapolitan puppetry. It shows how characters from different periods of time are mixed up, note the hanging baccala (cod fish) the provolone del Monaco cheese, the ugly tomatoes on a basket.
Pause for Coffee
In Naples coffee is a ceremony, the Neapolitans love their espressos very strong and you can have them everywhere, plenty of historic coffee shops and pasticcerias (cake shops) offering a wide range of coffee brands, many of them born in Naples such as Pasalacqua and Kenon. In fact the moka pot (Napoletana) is a Neapolitan invention dated back from the late 19th centuries.
Coffee time in Naples is anytime, I take mine macchiato (with a dash of foam) if you are watching the line ask for “dietor” a low calorie non aspartame sweetener because they will assume you will drink your coffee with sugar.
coffee break and newspaper readings in Piazza Vanvitelli at the Vomero quarter
Scaturchio, one of the traditional coffee and cake shops in the Vomero quarter right next to the Funiculare station.
Café Biandini , as you can see most coffee shops in Italy sell more than coffee, they are also a bar, a bakery and some offer a lunch menu and aperitif buffet from 5 pm. I love the elegant uniforms their trained baristas wear.
Italians know if someone is not Italian when they order cappuccinos during the day, afternoon or after a meal. Cappuccinos are meant to be drunk only with breakfast, with those delicious “cornettis” (pastries). After lunch or diner they drink their espressos. Coffee is a way of expression and is a form of art. Enjoy an espresso before or after your Museum visit. See you tomorrow!!!
A classic Italian breakfast: cappuccino, orange juice and cornettis, the pastries can be plain or filled with nutella, marmalade or chocolate.
(c) 2013 Montserrat Franco. All pictures by me taken with IPhone 4S and Sony Cybershot.