Last of the October Beach Days

If you’re lucky, summer comes back for a little visit in October. These lingering summer days are extra special at the beach on the Amalfi Coast, because they’ve already been abandoned by the crowds. We’ve had so many warm days this month that it seems strange to have already set the clocks back for daylight savings and that November is just around the corner. How did that even happen?

It’s that time of year to start the annual hunt for the tricky ingredients for the Thanksgiving dinner I’ll be preparing before too long. Every once in awhile the cold north wind has been blowing down from the mountains and I’ve already made the “cambio di stagione” change in our wardrobes from summer to autumn and winter. Yet at the same time the sun has been shining and beckoning us back into summer.

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Catching the boat to Santa Croce beach from Amalfi

Last week we took a trip back to summer and spent the day at Santa Croce beach near Amalfi – always one of my favorite spots. While we were walking along the harbor debating lunch plans, my husband spotted the boat from Ristorante Da Teresa arriving. We glanced at one another only very briefly. “It’s a sign,” I called out, already running down the steps to the pier to jump aboard.

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Ready to go to Santa Croce

The Darsena pier, which you can see above, is where you can catch the boat to Santa Croca. Look for this long, pale pink boat with the sign saying Ristorante Da Teresa.

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On the way!

Climb aboard and in a few minutes you’ll be at Santa Croce beach. The boat service is complimentary for patrons of the restaurant or if you’re renting a sunbed and umbrella.

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Arriving at Ristorante Da Teresa

The only way to reach this rocky beach is by boat. Usually, there’s another restaurant called Santa Croce to the left, but it had already been dismantled for the season when we went last week. The sea can be so rough during winter storms that the entire restaurant structure is pretty much removed for protection. When we got ashore, I spotted two lonely looking orange sunbeds on one side of the beach. They were lonely no more! I’ve been to Santa Croce many times, even at the end of the season, but I’ve never had half of the beach to myself. It was divine.

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Now this is my idea of the beach …

I really needed some time – just me and the sound of the sea. It was completely relaxing soaking up the autumn sun and listing to the waves tumbling little rocks to and fro. It was a bit too chilly for me to swim, but my husband took a dip before lunch.

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Having the sea to yourself

After a bit we went upstairs to the dining terrace for a relaxed lunch overlooking the sea. As always, the meal was excellent.

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Lunch with a soothing view

A crisp, local rosé was the perfect complement to a delicious meal. Naturally, seafood is the best choice here, and we had antipasti of friend anchovies and squid cooked with roasted peppers. Then pasta made with a local fish called gallinella.

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Summer sunshine and an Amalfi Coast rosé

After lunch it was back to the sun for a little while before returning to Amalfi. There were a few boats coming and going, dropping of travelers for lunch at Da Teresa. Otherwise it was total tranquility.

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Hang on summer

I spent some time reading and scrambling around like I always do on the rocks to take photos. Never gets old this beach. Water is such a soothing element for me, and just being near the sea can wash away a world of stress.

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Back home to Amalfi

It always comes too soon, but before long it was time for the last boat back to Amalfi … and to our busy October days. But for just one day I could pretend it was still summer.

 

 

 

Italy Blogging Roundtable

Italy Roundtable
This blog post is part of a series called The Italy Blogging Roundtable. Every month our group of Italy based writers takes on a new theme, and you can read the contributions for this month’s topic – Elements – at the links below. We’d love to hear your thoughts and comments. Please share the stores if you’ve enjoyed them!

ArtTravA Gift from the Earth: Potatoes in the Alto Adige

At Home in Tuscany

Bleeding Espresso

Brigolante

Italy ExplainedSecrets of Underground Naples

Girl in FlorenceThe Man Protecting Tuscany’s Sea: Paolo Fanciulli

Italofile

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Francesco Clemente’s Standing with Truth for Ravello 2017

In Italy, you can’t help but experience modernity within the context of the past. What is new is quite literally enveloped in what came before. But isn’t that what it should always be like? During my Washington, DC days, I was struck by a quotation from Shakespeare’s The Tempest that is carved at the base of a statue outside the National Archives. “What is past is prologue,” it reads. In a place like the Amalfi Coast, protected as it is thanks to its UNESCO World Heritage Site status, the visual landscape is a narrative that has continued unbroken from the past.

In a place with centuries of history such as the Villa Rufolo in Ravello, it’s possible to walk through its history, starting practically at the prologue in the 12th century and continuing to today. It is within this historic surrounding that a thoroughly modern exhibit has been placed this summer. As part of this year’s Ravello Festival, the show Standing with Truth for Ravello 2017 is a site-specific installation created by Neapolitan born artist Francesco Clemente in one of the Villa Rufolo’s atmospheric spots.

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The exhibit is situated in the courtyard and what was once a chapel at the Villa Rufolo. It’s a quiet and reflective setting – perfect for art exhibitions. The courtyard is flanked by two rows of bright red flags painted with symbols at once captivating and dark. A clenched fist holds colorful flowers. A sickle, broken at its base, cuts into a bleeding heart. Two strange creatures embrace. Images with an intensity that evokes a struggle.

Stepping inside the chapel, the narrative continues with a large tent entirely hand painted in tempura. The exhibition notes point out that it’s the type of tent characterized by Asian nomad shepherds. A tent as shelter, a tent as a symbol of changing places. This exhibition is themed around the idea of walls and migration – timely topics in today’s political climate around the world. Clemente has been working with the idea of tents since his ENCAMPMENT series that started about 5 years ago.

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This is a tent you can walk into, explore and experience. I happened to be there at a moment when there were no other visitors and it was a fascinating visual experience. There are ancient symbols, animals and faces that reminded me of Picasso’s Rose Period. The colors are vividly warm and I found myself creating my own narratives as I wandered around inside.

What stories do you see?

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Peering out from inside the tent, you can see the walls lined with a series of watercolors by Clemente that are on display for the first time.

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Getting up close to these watercolors, it was possible to see the incredible texture and labor that went into their design. Just look at the design in the concentric circles and the red border below. The works were full of intricate details that are exotic and traditional, playing on the theme different cultures blending together.

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Leaving the chapel, the harsh red flags reveal softer pastel color scheme with messages embroidered in gold thread. As they say, there are two sides to every story, and these flags fluttering in a summer breeze were reminders of that.

One tie-died flag caught my eye in particular. It says, “Il piu moderno qui è anche il piu’ arcaico.” That translates to: “The most modern here is also the most archaic.” Framed by the arched entrance to the chapel courtyard, it perfectly captured the setting of this contemporary art exhibit in the 12th-century ruins of the Villa Rufolo.

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It was also the catalyst for my reflections on this exhibition. If what is past is prologue, we carry not only who we were in the past with us as we move forward in life, but we also carry with us our family, back to our remotest ancestors in far flung parts of the world we have yet to even imagine. We carry that with us as we go forward, sometimes moving countries, meeting new people, making new families. We are ancient and modern all at once, just like the landscapes we move through.

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Standing with Truth for Ravello 2017 is on display at the Villa Rufolo through the end of September. Entrance to the exhibit is included when you purchase your ticket for the Villa Rufolo. More details available at www.villarufolo.com.

 

Italy Blogging Roundtable

Italy Roundtable
This blog post is part of a series called The Italy Blogging Roundtable. Every month our group of Italy based writers takes on a new theme, and you can read the contributions for this month’s topic – Modern – at the links below. We’d love to hear your thoughts and comments. Please share the stores if you’ve enjoyed them!

ArtTrav

At Home in Tuscany

Bleeding Espresso

Brigolante

Italy ExplainedWhere to See Modern & Contemporary Art in Italy

Girl in Florence

Italofile

 

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The Amalfi Lemon Experience

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One of the symbols of the Amalfi Coast, the lemon adds its colorful touch to the terraced landscape, to the hand-painted ceramics and, of course, to the local culinary traditions. The Amalfi Coast lemon is a treasure and one that you should experience while you’re visiting the area. What’s the best way? On the Amalfi Lemon Experience Tour! Created by the Aceto family, who have been cultivating lemons on the Amalfi Coast for six generations, this is a unique opportunity to walk among the lemon groves. Along the way you’ll learn about the history of lemon production on the Amalfi Coast, the unique challenges, and enjoy a tasting and visit to the family’s personal museum and laboratory where they produce limoncello and many other delights!

Recently I was able to join the Amalfi Lemon Experience Tour with Nicki from Positano Daily Photo, and we loved it! Enjoy her fun video of the tour and then read on below for a photo tour of the day exploring the lemon groves of Amalfi.

 

 

Wasn’t that fabulous? I love Nicki’s videos, and if you enjoyed that as well don’t forget to subscribe to her Nicki Positano YouTube channel so you don’t miss any in the future. Now come along and join me on a photo tour of the day!

Piazza Duomo Amalfi Lemon Tour Meeting Point

A beautiful day for a Lemon Tour! The meeting point is in Piazza Duomo in Amalfi.

 

Amalfi Lemon Tour Cart

Hop on the cart for the ride up to the top of Amalfi to the Aceto family lemon groves

 

Learning about how the terraced lemon groves are created and the green and black nets to protect the trees in the winter

 

Salvatore Aceto leading the Lemon Tour – he is so passionate about his family’s traditions!

 

Taste testing Amalfi lemons – you can eat the whole thing since they are organic

 

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Walking through the lemon groves and learning about the harvest and hard work it is to grow lemons on the Amalfi Coast

 

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The terraces of lemons are connected so the lemon trees grow from one terrace to another to maximize space

 

The delicate lemon trees are covered with black nets until late spring to protect them

 

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Although much of the harvest is done by hand and heavy crates of lemons carried on the shoulders, this helps them move the crates down the mountainside

 

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Luigi Aceto, Salvatore’s father, is still hard at work splitting the willow branches that are used to tie the lemon tree branches to the wooden pergolas

 

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Charming display for a tasting of lemons during the tour

 

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Fresh lemonade and lemon cake are a sweet treat during the Lemon Tour!

 

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A stop in the family’s museum on the tour shows their incredible collection of historic pieces

 

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Pieces of Amalfi’s past, including the stencils that were ones used to mark bread

 

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Taking a peek inside the laboratory where the family’s limoncello is made

 

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So many choices! All made right in the laboratory below the Aceto family lemon groves.

 

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Having fun taking photos with Nicki from Positano Daily Photo

 

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Amalfi Coast lemon perfection – the true sfusato amalfitano lemon

 

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A special visit to the Aceto family lemon groves overlooking Amalfi

 

Would you like to discover Amalfi’s incredible tradition of growing lemons firsthand? Find out more about the Amalfi Lemon Tour Experience and how to book here!

Ravello Torre Maggiore at Villa Rufolo

Visit the Torre Maggiore at Villa Rufolo – Opens April 1st!

Ravello Torre Maggiore at Villa Rufolo

The Torre Maggiore at Villa Rufolo Opens as the Torre-Museo on April 1st

If you’ve been to Ravello and visited the Villa Rufolo, you’ve likely stood and enjoyed the view looking up at the Torre Maggiore. This historic tower dates back to the 13th century when the wealthy Rufolo family called the Villa Rufolo home. Behind the scenes a major restoration project has been going on to open the Torre Maggiore to the public by transforming it into a museum and creating a viewing platform at the top. The project is complete and opens to the public on April 1st!

Torre Maggiore at Villa Rufolo Garden

Can you spot the glass enclosed view platform on the tower?

Last weekend the Villa Rufolo opened the Torre-Museo for a sneak peek viewing by residents on the Amalfi Coast. I’ve been eyeing that viewing platform for some time now. I just new it would have an incredible view! Last Saturday morning was clear and beautiful, so it was the perfect time to visit the Torre-Museo for the first time.

Let me start with the viewing platform on the top, because that’s what really took my breath away. The view from the gardens of Villa Rufolo are justifiably famous. But what climbing to the top of the Torre Maggiore does is give you a bird’s-eye view over the gardens with that incredible sweeping view of the coastline and Bay of Salerno.

Plus, since it’s surrounded by glass on all sides, you get views of Ravello and across the valley to Scala that you wouldn’t see from anywhere else.

Since the inside of the tower has been transformed into a museum and interactive experience, the climb of about 100 steps really goes by quickly. The staircase itself is a fascinating site, twisting and turning like an M.C. Escher design.

Along the way on each level there are architectural pieces, artefacts and explanation about the history of the Rufolo family and the tower.

The lighting is striking and creates and evocative setting for displaying pieces. Along the journey climbing the stairs, there are also light projections and audio recordings to bring the history to life.

At the entrance to the tower there’s a small room displaying artwork showing Ravello, the Amalfi Coast and the Villa Rufolo.

A visit to the Torre-Museo is a great way to start your exploration of the Villa Rufolo. Then you can wander through the beautiful gardens and buildings that you spied from on top of the Torre Maggiore.

The Torre-Museo opens to the public on April 1st, 2017 and entrance to the tower will be included in the price of the Villa Rufolo ticket. Entrance to the tower may be limited to a certain number of people at a time to improve the visitor experience, so if you’d like to go you might want to check if there’s a line when you arrive at Villa Rufolo.

Find out more about opening times and ticket prices at www.villarufolo.com.

Ravello and Spring on the Amalfi Coast

Visiting the Amalfi Coast in the Spring

Ravello and Spring on the Amalfi Coast

What to See & Do on the Amalfi Coast in the Spring

The weather is warming up, birds are singing every morning when I open the window and the almond trees have started to blossom. That means la primavera has arrived on the Amalfi Coast! Everything is a bit brighter this time of year, and I love watching the trees and plants come to life. Spring brings with it the arrival of the tourist season and travelers from around the world start arriving. Those lucky early spring visitors are in for a treat, too! While it’s true that the weather can be a bit more unpredictable in March and April, the rainy weather usually passes quickly. So for those of you getting ready for your upcoming trip, here’s a look at some of my favorite reasons to visit the Amalfi Coast in the Spring!

 

See the Wisteria Blooming

Wisteria in Positano - Spring on the Amalfi Coast

Ahhh … nothing says spring on the Amalfi Coast more than draping vines of sweet scented wisteria! Since the early spring flowers like daffodils and tulips aren’t very common in this area, I look forward all winter to seeing the wisteria blooming. While you can see wisteria all up and down the coast, my two favorite spots on my annual wisteria pilgrimage are Positano and Ravello. In Positano, you can find the wisteria blooming from right down by the beach and along the main street up into town. See more photos of wisteria in Positano here. In Ravello, you won’t want to miss visiting the Villa Cimbrone, which has pergolas full of wisteria. It’s absolutely heavenly when they’re blooming! The wisteria usually blooms from the end of March to beginning of April, depending on the spring weather.

 

Enjoy the Crisp Colors on a Ferry Ride

Amalfi Ferry - Amalfi Coast in the Spring

Usually around Easter time (or earlier if April is late in the spring) the ferries start running on the Amalfi Coast. This is the best way to get around, especially between Amalfi and Positano. The colors in the spring are often crisper than later in the summer when it tends to be more humid. So it’s a great time to get out your camera and enjoy the views of this gorgeous coastline from the sea.

 

Go Hiking Among the Flowers

Capri Spring Hiking - Amalfi Coast in the Spring

March and April are both great months for hiking on the Amalfi Coast, especially if you aren’t too fond of the heat. The ginestra (yellow broom flowers you can see in the photo above on Capri) starts blooming around this time, and the yellow flowers create quite a punch of color against the blue background of the sea and sky. Enjoy a hike in the mountains around Amalfi or why not tackle the incredible Pathway of the Gods above Positano? Or, if you’re looking for an stunning view without the hike, take the funicular up to Monte Solaro on Capri for the beautiful view above.

 

Get the Beach (Almost) to Yourself!

April Beach in Amalfi - Spring on the Amalfi Coast

When the sun comes out so do all the beach lovers! While the water might be a bit chilly for some people (including me!) this time of year, it’s definitely not for many people. Even if I don’t venture in very far in the spring, I love this time of year at the beach since it’s so much less crowded than the summer. The water is also incredibly clear and oh so tempting!

 

Easter in Amalfi

Neapolitan Pastiera Amalfi Coast

This year Pasqua (Easter) falls on Sunday, April 16th, which is the unofficial start of the season on the Amalfi Coast. If you’re visiting the area for Easter this year, be sure to arrive in time for Good Friday, which is when you’ll be able to experience the incredibly moving religious processions that take place on that day. One of the most impressive on the coast is in Amalfi, where a large procession takes place after dark. The city shuts off the lights in the piazza and it’s lit only by candles. You can get a glimpse of the procession in this video from a few years back.

While on the Amalfi Coast during Easter, don’t miss the chance to try the traditional Neapolitan pastiera. It’s a tart made with ricotta cheese, cooked wheat, eggs and candied orange peels. You’ll find it at every bakery during the Easter season, but my two favorite spots in Amalfi are Pasticceria Pansa or Pasticceria Leone. If you’re planning a visit to the Amalfi Coast this spring, I hope it’s a sweet one!