I know this title normally refers to Paris, but for me, Italy has been on my mind and in my dreams since I first saw the movie “Only You” with Robert Downey Jr. & Marisa Tomei. The music, the cobblestone streets, the pasta, the lilt that accompanies each Italian word, and the romance. Bellisima! (Try to picture my thumb and fingers together waving in the air while I say this).
There is so much to say about our trip to Italy, so you can expect to see follow-up blogs about this mind blowing escapade. For now, I will start with the charming town of Sorrento, the Isle of Capri, and the Amalfi Coast.
We booked the entire 17 day trip through Booking.com and we were not disappointed. We really wanted to have our hands in the entire process. We booked flights, all hotels, our rental car, and any tours through this site. We spent two glorious days glued to the computer until every night was accounted for. We did it! We are going to the land of Vino Rosso and Pizza Napoli.
Now let me just say that the flight from Seattle to Frankfurt was a straight 9 hour jaunt, fairly uneventful. Once we arrived in Germany to catch our connection to Naples, this is where the excitement began. Not only were we just an hour and a half away from the most romantic country in the world, I’m sure some would argue this fact, but I had an Italian gentleman sitting next to me who barely spoke english. So what I thought was going to be a lesson in the Italian language, ended in me holding his hand while he clung to the seat in front of him muttering “mama mia”, “mama mia” during every interval of turbulence. He was terrified to fly and kept asking me in broken english “isa dis normale?” I assured him that this was indeed normal and that we would be on the ground soon. I normally don’t mind a little turbulence, but now he was freaking me out!
Once safe on the ground, we found our rental car and headed for the enchanting coastal town of Sorrento, home to Limoncello. You know immediately that you are no longer stateside. The scenery is so different, so momentous. No matter how many times you may see it in the movies, it takes your breath away in person. Sorrento is perched atop seaside cliffs and has a glorious view of Vesuvius, the Isle of Capri & Naples.
We were told by many a traveler before us that Capri and the Blue Grotto were not to be missed. No truer statement was ever uttered. The color of the Mediterranean is a shade of blue that is impossible to capture through a lens. Some scenes are just meant to be fully enjoyed with the naked eye. We took the daily 45-minute ferry ride from Sorrento to Capri and hired a small private boat to show us around the island and take us to the famous grotto. Our captain Victorio was a delight to spend the day with. The $100 a day charge was worth having the boat to ourselves, and having the luxury of swimming in the warm sea at our leisure. We headed back to Sorrento at the end of the day, however staying at least one night on the island is a great option.
The following day, my husband put on his Indy 500 gear and psyched himself up for the big race. Today we tackle the Amalfi Coast. We had been warned about the scooters and the 25 mile stretch of Strada Statale 163. This coastline road is not for the faint of heart. Now, the Italians drive fast and they drive aggressively. As the saying goes, “if you can’t beat them, join them”. This really translates to “if you don’t join them, you will die!” We put our big boy and girl pants on and took charge.
One of the many challenges of the Amalfi Coast is trying to keep your eyes glued to the road. The scenery is so breathtaking as you pass the 13 different municipalities making up the coastline, that taking out a Vespa or driving yourself off the cliff, is a harsh reality. Every town is more quaint than the next, and it’s really up to you to decide which ones to stop in for a visit. We chose Amalfi and Positano. They were bustling with tourists, foreigners and locals alike. For Romans and Florentians, this is their break from the big city. The food, wine, and service is something to behold. The Italians take such pride in their craft, that you don’t dare leave a morsel on the plate. It’s best just to allow them to order for you. They have the inside scoop on the best fish of the day, the best wine for pairing, and the gift of gab like no other culture, that it is possible to sell you on anything. The seaside towns are known for their prosciutto and melon, insalata caprese, and pizza napoli……I didn’t know it at the time, but this was to become my all-time favorite pizza! The food and the wine are so different than what you get back home. Every bite was an explosion of fresh flavors.
I can’t tell you how many times my eyes rolled back in my head over the pure delight of a simple tomato. We drank wine every day. Now, making that statement back home might raise an eyebrow or two, however the Italians do not add extra sulfites to their wine, thus saving you from the “dry mouth” syndrome, or inevitable headache. And, Italian wines have a lower alcohol content than those in the U.S. It also doesn’t hurt that lunch breaks last about 2 hours, so plenty of time for digestion before heading back to work. We noticed a huge difference in our respect level for the food on our plates. We enjoyed smaller bites, took in the texture and smell of each meal, and honored the simplicity of the ingredients. We vowed to return home and prepare our meals with the same love and attention as they surely do.
Stay tuned for more Italian adventures………Ciao!
For information on Hotel Settimo Cielo in Sorrento visit: www.hotelsettimocielo.com/it