Small towns in Italy – A pictorial

Small beach and mountain towns of southern Campania, Italy are beautiful. These are pictures from a few towns we love.

Vallo della Lucania

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Castelnuovo Cilento

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Marina Casal Velino

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Paestum

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Salento

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Acciaro

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Castellabate

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Santa Maria di Castellabate

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Maratea

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Old Town Agropoli

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Pisciotta

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Casal Velino

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Wherever you go in Italy, you see old beautiful towns. Each make their own foods, wines and olive oils. Give yourself and your tastebuds a vacation … go to Italy and experience the real people and places. Don’t settle for a tour with bad food. Enjoy life and be romantic!

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Italy, General Travel, Campania, Europe, Small Towns, Mountain Towns, Romance, Southern Italy | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Only a day in Positano?

English: Part of Positano, Italy.

English: Part of Positano, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We spent a full week in Positano and enjoyed every day there. You can go to Naples, Sorrento, Capri and Amalfi by ferry. If all you have is one day, don’t worry. Here is what to do.

Make the best of it! Come by boat (ferry) and arrive at the large beach. There are shops and the cathedral. Take the walkway over to the small beach (referred to as Lovers Lane). On the way almost to the small beach is a great restaurant on the left (La Guarracino – Via Positanesi d’America 12 Telephone: 089-875794)

Lo Guarracino1 Lo Guarracino2

with great food and magnificent views. Go back to the big beach and up the stairs to the cathedral. Take the stairs on your left up to a walkway with restaurants and shops. This ends at Positano’s one street (a narrow one way street). The bus stop is here which circles around Positano and back. It is a cheap way to see the city from different heights. Go up the street to your left (against traffic). Many great shops are here that sell ceramics, linen clothes, leather shoes and sandals. Farther up the hill are great restaurants with views. Positano is to be walked and enjoyed. It is said there are one million steps and only one road. If the stairs are too daunting, walk the road it is steep but easy to walk.

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Our Table at La Guarracino 

From Positano you can get fast inexpensive ferries to neighboring towns including Capri, Sorrento and Amalfi. This is a very romantic part of Campania. Enjoy it!

George & Jo

Categories: Italy, Amalfi Coast, General Travel, Capri, Positano, Campania, Europe, Naples, Beaches, Amalfi, Romance, Sorrento, Ferries, Traveling without a tour, Ceramics | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Where to Eat in Italy

French wines are usually made to accompany food.

French wines are usually made to accompany food. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

People that have been to Italy often ask us what is the difference between the types of restaurants in Italy? It can be confusing so we give you this guide.

Italy has fantastic food everywhere. We even stopped at an “Auto Grill” on the autostrada (highway) and had a great espresso and pastry. Other times we will get a Panini at the Auto Grill. Not like our turnpike rest areas. In Italy there are several common types of places to eat and a few others in certain areas.

Types of Restaurants in Italy:

  1. Bar – A place to eat or drink. In the morning you go here for coffee and pastry, at lunch you go for sandwiches (Panini). In the evening you go for a drink and a snack. Many bars also serve gelato. Bars are cheapest if you stand and eat. Sitting at a table costs more but allows you to relax and observe Italy and its great people.
  2. Tratteria – these are small private owned eating cafes with great food at reasonable costs. Lunch and dinner are great. Usually Italian favorites as well as local dishes are served. The atmosphere is simple but comfortable. A version of these are Pizzeria Trattoria. These include pizzas along other dishes. Some have outside and inside seating available.
  3. Ristorante – These are for lunch or dinner and are nice but expensive. The atmosphere is classic and the food is great. You can also find Pizzeria Ristorante’s. The wine lists are more extensive and the atmosphere is more formal.
  4. Osteria  – These are places that usually serve wine and simple food with limited menus.
  5. Enotecca – Small wine bars that allow tasting local wines (for a charge) and serve small dishes or sandwiches or Tapas like foods. These are a great way to get to know local wines.
  6. Rotisserie – Small restaurants that specialize in roasting meats on a spit.
  7. Agritourism – Usually a farm-based establishment with a B&B type hotel and food grown or raised on their farm. They sometimes have stores to buy products and take home. One near our home in Italy has a vegetable and fruit market as well.

Pizza is everywhere! You can have it in Trattoria’s or Ristorante’s. The bread in Italy is great. It is crusty on the outside but soft or airy inside. Always stay away from touristy places serving hamburgers and hot dogs. The food won’t be good and prices will be high. Enjoy your trip, taste Italy’s great food & wines. Sit back and smile as you watch the Italians strolling with family at lunch time or in the evening. Lunch usually ranges from 12 noon to 3 pm (shorter in the north) and dinner from 6 pm (for tourists) to 11 pm. The south of Italy eats much later than the north. The south also serves more fish than the north. If you happen to be in the north of Italy in the fall, DO NOT MISS the truffles.

Remember Italy is the land of romance. Sit back and enjoy yourself. Stay away from the American Fast Food places. You are in Italy enjoy its great foods and wines. Save the fast food for when you get home. Do NOT go into eating establishments in Italy and be in a hurry! Use a bar if you have to eat fast. Good food takes time to prepare and serve properly.

George & Jo

Categories: Agriturismo, Auto Grills, Autostrada, B&Bs, Bars, Bread, Cooking, Enoteca, Fast Food, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Italian Facts, Italy, Pastries, Pastry, Pizza, Ristorante, Romance, Truffles, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Positano Ceramics

Amalfi Coast

Amalfi Coast (Photo credit: The Consortium)

We took a two week trip to the our home in southern Italy a few years ago. We decided to take a detour to Positano for ceramics. Many tourists around the world travel to these rocky cliffs. Tourist stops like Sorrento, Capri, Positano and Amalfi are here. This is a place to enjoy good food, great wine, nice people and as we said yesterday, Good Lemoncello.

We flew into Rome because we can get direct flights on US Air (now becoming American) from Philly to Rome. We rented a car and drove down the autostrada (A-1) towards Naples. We drove past Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii toward Sorrento. From Sorrento we drove over the mountain and took the Amalfi Coast Highway to Positano We spent a night in this wonderful city on the hill. We had a room at Hotel Villa delle Palme on Via Pasitea, number 252. This is the city of a million steps and one road. Of course we had lunch (pizza) at our favorite place, Lo Guarracino in Positano on the walkway between the big and small beaches. We stopped here to buy ceramic plates for our new home in Italy. The ceramics here is unique and colorful.

Positano Dishes

The next day we went on the Amalfi Coast Highway past many small wonderful Italian towns including Amalfi itself. Finally reaching Salerno where we stopped at the IKEA and then got on the Autostrada south again. Exiting the autostrada and going to the larger city of Agropoli and then onto Velina. Getting there takes us right through Italy’s largest national park, Cilento.

Categories: Amalfi Coast, Ceramics, Cilento, Europe, General Travel, Italy, Positano, Sorrento, Velina | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade

Limoncello

Limoncello (Photo credit: zaza_bj)

Lemons are often thought of as sour and bitter. We serve them with fish or made lemonade in the summer. The Italians along the Amalfi Coast have a better idea! They make world famous delicious Lemoncello.

As we remember our trip to the Amalfi Coast, Capri and Positano, everything seems to be yellow! The yellow of both small and gigantic lemons and of course their favorite beverage, lemoncello. It is served everywhere and is delicious. It is not too alcoholic and has a sweet and citric flavor. It is usually served in tall thin glasses. Try it you like it! Bars and restaurants serve it. It is the drink you will see most often around the Positano Coast and the city of Positano. Enjoy!

George & Jo

 

Categories: Amalfi Coast, Bars, Capri, General Travel, Italy, Lemoncello, Positano | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

White Wines of Campania

Location of region xy (see filename) in Italy.

Location of region xy (see filename) in Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wine can be refreshing on a hot day, especially a nice white wine. Campania has many great wines (both white and red).

It is the time to stock your cellars with next years wines. We primarily prefer red full-bodied dry wines but a dry white can be refreshing in the warm weather. The Denver Post posted this article on Campania Italy’s white wines. We don’t believe in the certain foods for certain wines theory. We love fish with a good red wine. There are some great whites out there and not all in the oceans! Some of them are full of body and taste. Campania Italy is a region that doesn’t get a lot of wine notice in the US but it produces some great Italian wines. Try them, you’ll like them.

Remember, if you find yourself in Campania (Naples, Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi, Capri), Order a 1/2 liter or liter of wine with lunch or dinner. This is bulk wine bought by the restaurant. It is cheaper and produced locally.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Amalfi, Campania, Capri, Europe, General Travel, Italy, Naples, Positano, Sorrento, Southern Italy, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bella Roma

George took Jo Anne to Rome first in 2011 for New Years Eve. He knew she liked architecture and interesting cities. She had never been to Italy so this was the perfect place to visit first. Jo Anne was totally amazed by Rome as you will be if you haven’t yet seen it. It has everything about Italy that we talk about in this BLOG. The food, wine, people, sights and architecture.

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New Years Day we went to the coliseum, it was closed but walked empty streets and had rome to our selves. We saw the remnants of New Years Eve (champagne corks) in the streets.

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Rome is the eternal city. There is no other like it. To walk its streets and think of Roman soldiers walking the same streets millennia ago wow! We loved Rome. Its people, wine, food and buildings. Here is a simple tour of Rome and how to get around on your own. Rome is a walking city. If you can’t walk much take the metro or a taxi.

We love to stay near Trevi Fountain. We stay at Hotel Trevi. It’s central and easy to get to everything else.

  1. Pantheon, Campo de Fiori and Piazza Navona – Standing facing the Trevi Fountain take the pedestrian walkway to your left. It winds through some small piazza and past some nice restaurants to the Pantheon. Piazza Campo de fiori is a short walk away. It has Rome’s flowers and fresh fruits and vegetables. Piazza Navona is a direct walk from here. It is a very large piazza with fountains and restaurants.
  2. Bocca della Veritá, Castel Sant’Angelo and the Vatican – Bocca della Veritá is a mouth that you put your hand into and if you are truthful you get it back. It’s fun. Accross the Tiber river from the mouth is the Castle. Castel Sant’Angelo is an old fort seen in the movie “Angels and Demons”. It is very close to the Vatican.
  3. Spanish Steps and Shopping – Facing Trevi Fountain the road on the right going behind the fountain leads to Rome’s best shopping area, more restaurants and the Famous Spanish Steps.
  4. Borghese Gardens – These are beautiful cool gardens to walk around. The museum here is a must but usually requires reservations. In the museum are Bernini sculptures. The two most famous are “Apollo and Daphne” and “The Rape of Proserpina“. It is hard to believe you are looking at marble and not real skin.
  5. Central Train Station – You can catch a train to nearby towns like Naples, Pompeii or Orvietto. There is also a train that runs to Fiumicino Airport.

Enjoy your trip to Rome. Eat in non touristy restaurants and Trattorias. Meet the people they are fun and friendly. See Rome and imagine this great city during the Roman Empire. It is very romantic.

A 5x5 segment panorama taken by myself with a ...

A 5×5 segment panorama taken by myself with a Canon 5D and 24-105mm f/4L IS lens. Stitched with rectilinear projection to keep lines straight. This view is about 100 degrees horizontally, close to the upper practical limit of rectilinear projection. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have a pizza, eat the food, enjoy the local wine, stop in a bar for breakfast and have a cornetto and don’t forget the gelato.

cornetto

Cornetto

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Bars, Champagne, cornetto, Eating Italian, Europe, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Italy, Pantheon, Pastries, Pastry, Pizza, Romance, Rome, Spanish Steps, Traveling without a tour, Vatican City | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Amalfi and Ravello

Deutsch: Die Terrazza dell'Infinito der Villa ...

Deutsch: Die Terrazza dell’Infinito der Villa Cimbrone in Ravello (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you are planning a trip to Naples, Capro, Sorrento and Positano, don’t miss these two wonderful cities.

We arrived in Amalfi by ferry from Positano. You can arrive by car, bus or ferry. Once in Amalfi you will find a pedestrian piazza with the church. The church is up a set of steps and has a wonderful tour. At the bottom of the steps is a fountain you can drink from and plenty of restaurants in the piazza to eat or have a drink. Outside the city walls by the ferry docks (and bus stop) you can find a bus to Ravello. Buy your tickets at a tobacco shop (there is one at the city wall. The bus ride winds itself up a very steep mountain to the top. Ravello sits atop this mountain with unforgettable views of the sea. Once at Ravello, the bus stops outside the city walls. Walk through into the central piazza. There are bars and restaurants. There is a tourist center near by where you can get a map. Walk to the other side of town to Villa Cimbrone Gardens. It is well worth the walk. These gardens were a refuge for Hollywood movie stars years ago. Now they are open to the public to enjoy. At the very end of the gardens you will find yourself on a walk by a cliff that overlooks the sea, Amalfi and the road up to Ravello. Relax and enjoy.

After your walk back to town stop at a bar and enjoy a drink or a soda.  Relax and take in the people and the town. Imagine life here. When you are done retrace your steps back out through the town wall to the bus stop. Buses can get very crowded. There are also car services and taxis to take you back down to Amalfi.

One of Fiats new car commercials shows a new fiat being driven off a dock into the sea. It was filmed at the docks in Amalfi.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Amalfi, Amalfi Coast, Bars, Cafè, Capri, Europe, Italy, Mountain Towns, Naples, Positano, Ravello Italy, Small Towns, Sorrento, Southern Italy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Orvieto, A perfect city

English: Facade of Orvieto Cathedral.

English: Facade of Orvieto Cathedral. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of our favorite side trips from Rome is Orvieto. It is an easy train ride out of Rome.

Italy is famous for its hill-top towns. They were built high up to protect from invaders and pirates. Some cities have two parts, one at the sea as a port and the other high up on a hill-top. As invaders were coming, the town people went to the hill-top part to protect themselves. Orvieto is a hill-top town between Florence and Rome in the province of Umbria. It is easy to get to by car or train. The train and car parking is at the base of the mountain. There is a funicular that travels up the hill to the town above.

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The views are spectacular from any wall around the town. The town is made of small cobblestone streets with great shopping and dinning. If you can only do a day travel to Orvieto, take an early train and stay until after dinner. The Duomo (Cathedral) is amazing and incredibly large. It sits on a small piazza against one of the town walls. There is a small hotel and restaurant on the piazza as well. One has to marvel at how they built such a structure high up on a hill.

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The town only allows local residents cars to drive up the windy road to the top. You can see residence walking up and down this road during the day. We took the train from Rome to Orvieto and returned to Rome in same day. The trip through the mountains was enjoyable. This is a city worth seeing and exploring. You do NOT need a guide! Just enjoy the city. Look at the wonderful leather goods and ceramics. Eat lunch and dinner at a restaurant, Trattoria or cafe. In the morning stop at a bar for coffee and a pastry. Don’t forget the wonderful local white wine from Orvieto.

Orvieto has a main road that leads from the fort and funicular to the wall at the back of town. In the middle at the clocktower, turn left on a street that leads to the Duomo piazza. All along the main road are restaurants, bars and shopping. On the side road to Duomo is additional shops and restaurants. Off these main roads are smaller roads with even more shops and restaurants. Orvieto has great ceramics for sale.

Enjoy your trip!

Categories: Duomo, Europe, Food, General Travel, Italy, Mountain Towns, Orvieto, Rome, Small Towns, Traveling without a tour, Umbria | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Italian cooking in Italy, So much better

Tasty Food Abundance in Healthy Europe

Tasty Food Abundance in Healthy Europe (Photo credit: epSos.de)

Have you ever come back from Italy and the Italian restaurants at home just don’t make it? Italy is a unique culture of food, smells, sights and sounds. Its food is always fresh natural and simple. The recipes have been handed down for generations.

Italians are all about eating well, eating fresh, taste and life. Food has always been an important part of their lives. They farm by rotating crops to preserve nutrients in the soil. They mostly use organic methods. They do this not because it’s popular or a fad but because the food tastes better. Wine is included in this. Part of what makes a wine so delicious is how the grape is grown. There animals are raised on the land and eat what they have always eaten. Ours are in pens and are feed chemical feeds. Their vegetables taste and smell so much better than ours. Remember eating starts with the eyes, goes to the nose and ends up in the mouth. We see our food and are attracted to it. We smell our food and that makes us salivate and prepare to eat. Finally we eat our food and enjoy its taste. Taste is to a small degree the taste buds on our tongue but to a larger degree its a nasal function in the back of our mouths. As we chew our food smells go into our nasal cavity and our brain interrupts these as taste.

Every time we are in Italy, we are amazed by the food, especially the tomatoes. It was late May and early June. The tomatoes looked red and firm. You could smell them as they were cut and the taste was not watery but of a great tomato. Italian cooking is never about processed foods but fresh grown foods that taste great. Every bite is about an explosion of flavors that excite you to continue eating. Watch Italians in Italy eat. It is a social thing. They are enjoying each other, the people around them, the wine and the food. It is after all the essence of life!

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Eating Italian, Europe, Food, General Travel, Italy, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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