Castellabate Italy

Castellabate is a mountain town in Cilento, southern Italy. It is located south of Agropoli. This town was featured in the funny Italian movie, “Benvenuti, Sud”. This DVD is only available in PAL (European format) but does have English subtitles. It is a very funny movie about the perceived differences between the north and south of Italy. We laughed all the way through this movie.

Castellabate

Castellabate

Like so many seaport areas of Italy, this town has two parts. One is called Santa Maria Di Castellabate and is on the shore with beautiful beaches. It overlooks the bay and you can see the tip of the Amalfi Coast and the Island of Capri. The other is a fortified mountain town called Castellabate. This is a pedestrian town only. You park in one of several parking lots and walk into the center. The views are spectacular. You can see the entire Amalfi coast and Salerno. You can take a ferry to various towns on the Amalfi Coast.

From here you can go to the large city of Agropoli or father north to Salerno. You can also visit the Greek ruins at Paestum (about half way between Salerno and Castellabate. There are hundreds of small beach and mountain towns waiting to be explored. Take your time because each little town has its own treasures to be discovered.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Agropoli, Amalfi Coast, Beaches, Campania, Europe, Ferries, General Travel, Italy, Mountain Towns, Paestum, Salerno, Small Towns, Southern Italy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Italian Gelato è Molto Buono

Gelato is the word for ice cream but it is so much better than normal ice cream. The Italians keep it at the perfect temperature. It is soft but not melted. The fillings (nuts, fruit, candy, etc) are ground up into tiny pieces. In this way you get tremendous flavor. The gelato turns the color of the filling. Our favorites Nocciola (Hazelnut).  It is a light brown color full of hazelnut flavor. Cool and soft on the tongue.

Nocciola Gelato

Hazelnut Gelato

So what is gelato and why is it so different from ice cream? Wikipedia defines it as lower in calories, sugars and fats than normal ice cream. We love the soft creamy flavor of gelato. As I have said before everything in Europe and especially Italy is lower in sugar. Rather than the sweetness, it is the flavor that counts.

As you go into a typical Gelateria, you see a long counter filled with many gelato flavors. It takes time to browse them all. They will give you a taste on a tiny plastic spoon. So don’t be shy. Ask for a taste and get the best flavor for you. You can get your gelato in a cup (of various sizes), cone,  sugar cone or waffle cone. It is typical to see many people licking their gelato on the street near a Gelateria.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Europe, Gelato, Italy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Italian Dark Chocolate

OK, we have our white truffles and wine but there are two other great desserts (dolce) to taste in Italy. The first is fine chocolate and the second Italian Gelato. Today we will focus on the fine chocolate. Most Americans know about Perugina Baci. These are the Italian version of a chocolate kiss. They are made with real dark chocolate and hazelnuts. Inside the wrapper with the chocolate kiss is a paper with a proverb on it. We have always enjoyed Perugina. If you are in Tuscany near Assisi where Saint Frances’ Cathedral is located, stop in Perugia. Perugia is home to Perugina chocolates. It is located just outside the city and has a tour of the factory. You can, of course, taste the chocolates. Perugia is a great small town to visit as well.

Baci

As you travel the Italian countryside, you will find small towns with chocolate shops. These shops have people who make their own homemade chocolates. Most will give you a sample to try. This chocolate is totally fresh and without preservatives. Pop one into your mouth. Hold it on your tongue and let the rich dark chocolate melt. The sensation is very sensual. Now chew it and enjoy the tastes. Dark chocolate is healthy and enjoyable.

Europeans use much less sugar than we do here in the States. Our sweets have become too sweet. Sugar is addictive and the food industry knows it. In Italy things have a little sugar but it’s not overpowering. Enjoy the other flavors in the candy. We find that American milk chocolate actually hurts your teeth because of the sugar content. The Italian chocolate never hurts.

Now you know how to enjoy a day. Start by having a meal with white truffles (in season). Maybe a pasta dish. Enjoy the flavors with a glass of local wine. Stop by at a chocolate shop and enjoy a small piece of chocolate. Tomorrow we will cap the day off with some gelato.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Assissi, Chocolate, Dolce, Europe, Gelato, Italy, Perugia, Sweets, Truffles, White Truffles, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Italian Wine

Yesterday we spoke about White Truffles. What goes great with truffles? Wine of course. Italy has many wine regions. In fact the whole country is divided into wine regions. Everyone drinks and enjoys wine in Italy. Wine Folly lists these regions and the wines that come from each.

Italy-Wine-Map-wine-folly

Everyone has heard of Chianti but Italy produces other great wines. The Brunello is one of the great wines from Italy. It can be expensive but is among the best wines in the world.

Here are some of the wines and regions (see map above) with wines you might have tried:

  1. Valpolicella from Veneto
  2. Super Tuscan, Chianti, Barolo, Brunello and Sangiovese from Tuscany
  3. Orvieto from Umbria
  4. Cabernet Sauvignon from Abruzzo
  5. Chardonnay from Puglia

Chianti is by far the most popular Italian wine. If you choose a Chianti, look for one with a Black Cock on the neck of the bottle. This is the sign of the best Chianti in Italy. Producers  have to follow strict standards to be able to display the black cock.

Have a fun wine tasting party. Select 2 or 3 wines from a region. Cover each bottle and label it A, B, C etc. Have your guests taste each and vote on their favorite. This is a great way to taste related wines blindly and see what you enjoy.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Europe, Italy, Regions of Italy, Truffles, Tuscany, White Truffles, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

White Italian Truffles

Truffles are in the mushroom family but are NOT anything like a mushroom. They come white & black. Italy has both types. France has black truffles. The black ones are milder than the whites. Many countries including ours have tried to grow truffles without much success. They grow on the roots of Oak trees. They are hard to find since they are underground. in Italy they used to use pigs. A pig has a very good sense of smell and can find them easily. The problem is they also like to eat them. Picture a 150 lb Italian man trying to stop a several hundred pound pig from eating his prized truffles.

White Truffle

Next the Italians trained special dogs to find the truffles. Dogs also have a very good sense of smell. The difference is they do not like to eat the truffles. Once found the farmer digs up the truffle. It is brushed clean (like a mushroom) and can be grated over eggs, pasta or rice or can be very thinly sliced with a truffle grater over veal. The taste is wonderful and very unique. at first you might find the smell repugnant but after you have enjoyed them the smell is attractive.

Time ran an article on Why Truffles cost $2,000 a pound? They can cost even higher here in America. Last year we bought a white truffle from Italy and it was $5,000 per pound. The truffle doesn’t weigh much so our purchase cost us about $100. It will last about a week in refrigeration. Use it on eggs and pasta and risotto. The flavoring is divine. The Italians store the truffle in a bottle full of rice. The rice steals the floor and can then be used to make risotto after the truffle is gone. Be careful as the rice can steal all the truffles flavor resulting in a truffle with no taste.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Europe, France, Italy, Truffles | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Club di Giulietta – Verona Italy

Verona, Italy is one of my favorite Italian cities to see. It is a good size city of about 260,000 inhabitants. Verona is located between Milan and Venice. It connects to these two cities by a good autostrada. It straddles the Adige river. It is a city of romance and love since Shakespeare based three of his plays here:

  1. Romeo & Juliet
  2. The Two Gentleman of Verona
  3. The Taming of the Shrew

Verona

If you have seen the 2010 movie Letters to Juliet, you know it takes place in Verona. Letters from lost lovers are left on a wall for Juliet to to answer. Who really answers these letters? It is the Club di Giulietta.

Info: Club di Giulietta
Via Galilei 3
37133 Verona
info@julietclub.com
0039 (045) 533115
0039 335 8259935

Of course the story of Romeo & Juliet is fictional  but many believe Shakespeare was inspired to write this play in Verona. He may have seen the now famous Balcony of Juliet and got the idea. What ever the truth is, Verona has capitalized on this tragic love story. There is a statue of Juliet with bare breasts that is suppose to give you good luck in love if you touch them. So many tourists do this, that her breasts are wearing down. There is also a balcony next to the statue which is supposed to be where Romeo told Juliet he loved her.

You can feel romance & love in this town. It is similar to other Italian cities with its restaurants, gelato stores, bars, museums, churches and views. Driving in the old section is restricted. Get a hotel room and re-live your love. Enjoy Italy and Verona.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Autostrada, Bars, Europe, Gelato, Italy, Milan, Romance, Venice, Verona | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cold Weather in Europe Kills!

Europe is experiencing extreme cold weather similar to here in the USA. Temperatures drop drastically and snow fall is heavier than usual. Many people died in this change of weather. Northern Europe is used to cold and snow but even here it is colder and heavier snow than usual. What is really strange is Southern Italy experienced snow fall and cold weather. Sicily had snow and they are almost on the African continent. It seems in Europe frigate Arctic weather is coming down in a southerly direction over the entire continent.

Although Southern Italy had cold and snow it didn’t last long. The mild Mediterranean winds blew in and warmed the land. This is a mild climate usually. You can not go swimming because the sea is very violent in the winter but you can travel around in 60-75 F degree weather.

With these strange weather patterns you have to be ready for any type of weather. Pack something warm. Layer clothes if you get hit by extreme cold. Don’t allow it to ruin your vacation. Just enjoy where you are.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Europe, Italy, Southern Italy, Weather in Europe | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Italian Train to Sicily

If you are in Italy and want to go to Sicily you have three choices:

  1. Airplane – The fastest but expensive.
  2. Drive – This allows you to experience the beautiful countryside. At Messina, Italy you drive onto a ferry which takes you the short distance to Sicily.
  3. Train – The train allows you to enjoy the countryside without driving. The train ends up in Messina where it is loaded onto the same ferry as #2 above. At the ferry docks in Sicily and train is removed and continues it journey in Sicily.

Sicily is an Island that almost touches Italy at Messina. It is also very close to the African coastline. Many Italian-Americans are from Sicily so this is a popular destination with American tourists. You can fly into Rome or Naples and train it to Sicily. You might want to stop along the way at the many beautiful villages you will pass through. Spend some time maybe a night and reboard the train to Sicily.

The BLOG “The Train to Sicily: Ferry From Messina to Sicily” has excellent suggestions and pictures. Enjoy!

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Driving in Italy, Europe, Ferries, Italy, Naples, Rome, Sicily, Small Towns, Southern Italy, Trains | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Roman Holiday

Rome is a super attraction for visitors the world over. It is a marvelously preserved ancient city. Rome has two main parts, inside the old walls and outside. Inside the walls encompasses most tourist attractions (but not all – Villa Borghese is outside the walls on a hill). You can walk this part of Rome easily. In August be aware of the heat and have plenty of water. Rome has an excellent metro system (subway) that can get you anywhere you want to go. Rome also has several train stations that connect it to major and minor Italian cities as well as the rest of Europe.

Sites like the Vatican, Trevi Fountain, Colosseum, Spanish Steps, Old Rome and Pantheon attract visitors each year. Try to enjoy the small streets and local restaurants between these cities. Stop for some chocolate or a gelato. Watch the Italians and the visitors. You can easily tell them apart. If you are in love, this is a city of romance. Share it with the person you love. Be spontaneous and romantic. Enjoy this great city.

Walk the old streets of old Rome. Think about the fact that you are walking the same cobblestones as the ancient Romans. Breathing the air looking at the mountains. Of course Rome is a huge modern city now but let your imagination run wild for just a moment. When you get tired stop and have a something to eat and order local wine. Don’t go to tourist places. Pick something that local Italians are eating at. For just a short time you are a Roman!

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Chocolate, Dolce, Eating Italian, Europe, Gelato, General Travel, Italy, Metro Travel, Rome, Trains, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Casal Velina Marina in Campania

I have written about this wonderful seaport before but it needs new mention as we start to think Spring and Summer and maybe a trip to Italy. This small city is the sea port side of a town that has another side high in the mountains. The sea port is beautiful. Palm tree-lined walks, white sand beaches, gentile rolling waves and the warm Tyrrhenian Sea (Mediterranean Sea separated by islands).  This wonderful town has many boat docks with beautiful boats, a tower that used to watch for pirates. The bars along the sea are wonderful. Have your coffee and sweet roll in the morning or a Panini for lunch. Try the local mozzarella (Mozzarella di Bufalo).

There are wonderful open markets each Friday on the street. Here you can browse local vendors to see their products. Clothing, food and small home appliances are some of the things sold here. There are many restaurants that serve wonderful food. On the beach are clubs that rent you  chairs, umbrellas and table on the beach. They include music and free WiFi. This is life the way it should be. Picture yourself on the sand looking out at the sea, listening to some music while sipping a prosecco (Italian champagne). And no trip here is complete without a stop at Franco’s Bakery. Here you can taste wonderful Italian pastries fresh made. Take some back with you to your hotel. Gaetano, the owner, will help you select the best he has.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Bars, Beaches, Buffalo Mozzarella, Campania, Casal Velino, Champagne, Cooking, Eating Italian, Europe, Italy, Marina Casal Velino, Mountain Towns | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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