The coast Amalfi, Italy
My wife and I made our first trip to Italy a few years ago. One trip, no matter how long you stay, is never enough to see the regional diversity of this old country. We went to Rome to see the usual sights, to Tuscany to experience the rural wine country, and to the Amalfi Coast. The Amalfi made the most lasting impression, and it was about as romantic as you can get.
If you like beautiful vistas, gorgeous beaches, quaint towns
that are centuries old, sunny climate, and fantastic food, then you want to
visit Amalfi. If you don’t like those
things, then you have lost at least three of your five senses. Every small town along the 28-mile coastline
is beautiful and oozing with charm. From
Positano, with its famous beach and artisan shops, to the hilltop castle-town
of Ravello, no two villages are the same. I don’t think there is an ugly vista anywhere in the region, and I
couldn’t get enough of rubber-necking at the coastline from the bus. But one practical suggestion: never go to Italy without a copy of Rick Steves' travel guide on the country. It is absolutely invaluable.
We stayed at a villa in Praiano, several miles up the coast from Positano. The villa had three bedrooms, two baths, a dining room, living room, and a kitchen. The view of the Mediterranean (actually, the Tyrrhenian Sea, to be exact) was incredible. We watched the fisherman go out at night in their small boats with their lanterns, working the water directly below our grassy patio. It was a strenuous hike into and out of the villa, but within a couple of days, we were ready for the local Ironman triathlon.
One bit of artistry that I was not prepared to see was the hand-painted pottery found in the area. There are several shops that sell this very colorful earthenware, and you can watch the artisans work for as long as you like. We brought home several small bowls that we use for condiments on the dining room table. How is it that this incredible array of colors somehow mimics the feeling of this landscape? It can not be a coincidence.
Of course, no one can write about Italy without describing the food. I had a sumptuous seafood plate for lunch in the steep-sided town of Amalfi, just yards from the beach. It was possibly the best, and the most expensive, lunch I have ever had. In the evening, my wife and I would take a bus, which are free, up or down the road to another village and pick a spot for dinner. It is here that we fell in love with caprese . This hallmark Italian salad is comprised of slices of tomatoes and mozzarella cheese and basil leaves interlaced on a platter, and then drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Fresh, high-quality olive oil is essential. Every restaurant in which you eat has a variation on the basic theme, but it is always delicious. I now grow my garden in upstate New York every year primarily with this salad in mind.
O sole mio
One evening, we ate dinner on the veranda at a restaurant in Praiano with a full moon over the Mediterranean. After dinner, we retired to the piazza below us, next to the 500-year old San Gennaro cathedral, to join the locals who were socializing there on this warm August evening. Then, to our surprise, three famous baritones (or was it four tenors) who were touring Italy began an hour-long concert in the open air, free and open to the public. Can you say romantic?
All photos are by DrTom. For more, see Life at DrTom's.
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