Carnival Mask and Confetti

February on the Amalfi Coast: Local Tips for What to See & Do

February is a quiet month on the Amalfi Coast, with the exception of the very loud celebrations for carnevale. Yes, it’s carnival time again. Around the Amalfi Coast it’s a festive celebration that includes parades with large floats, kids with entirely too much confetti, and, my favorite part, lasagna. (I’ll share more about that below.) The carnival events add a burst of color to what is traditionally a peaceful time of year. This is the month that many restaurants and stores close for annual holiday time or for maintenance work. Soon things will slowly start coming back to life as preparations begin for another busy season ahead. In the meantime, I love these quiet days, especially when the sun shines.
 
Here’s a look at a few things going on this month, along with some tips for enjoying the Amalfi Coast in February!

 

Carnevale

When most people thing carnival and Italy they imagine all those gorgeous masks and costumes in Venice. That’s not at all what the celebrations look like in much of Italy. If you’re at all familiar with what carnevale looks like in the Italian city of Viareggio, with its massive floats and parade, that’s much more along the lines of how it’s celebrated in this part of Italy – naturally just on a much smaller scale. While there are parades and celebrations, often geared toward kids, in many of the towns along the Amalfi Coast, Maiori is the center of carnevale events. (In large part because they actually have space to make floats and have a parade!) With their Gran Carnevale di Maiori, they have a series of events from February 10th to the 18th. The parade with the floats will take place on Tuesday, February 13th at 3pm. You can see the full events for the Carnevale di Maiori here (Italian only).

Carnival Desserts

Of course you can’t have a holiday without good food! As it was traditionally considered the last big hurrah before the period of Lent leading up to Easter, the customary meal for carnevale is quite lavish. Along the Amalfi Coast that means cheese, salami, cured meats, rich pasta dishes, more meat, (usually more cheese) and lots of sweets. Many families prepare an incredibly rich and delicious lasagna enriched with sausage, little meatballs, spicy salami, hard boiled eggs and mozzarella. It is divine. I look forward to it all year. (Think Garfield and his love of lasagna.) Since my husband has two sisters and they are both marvelous cooks, it means we usually get to enjoy a double dose of lasagna each year.
 
When it’s time for dessert, usually a large tray of chiacchiere will arrive on the table. These are thin strips of fried dough topped with powdered sugar. This is a traditional carnival dessert all over Italy and it has many different names depending on where you’re at. While there are countless recipes, the dough sometimes includes a bit of lemon rind or even a splash of limoncello. They make the most delightful tasting mess you’ve ever eaten!

 

The Amalfi Coast in February

As it’s the quietest month of the year, if you’ve been dreaming of driving the Amalfi Coast Road it’s a good time of year to set off by car and explore the coastline. With less traffic it’s a little easier to stop in scenic spots and enjoy the views. The best part are the colors. If you get a sunny and clear day, the colors of February are vivid and crisp. Just keep in mind that most places are closed this time of year. So don’t expect to rock up to Positano and find all the boutiques open and restaurants to choose from along the beach. But if you’re coming to the Amalfi Coast to enjoy the views and meander around the quiet streets, it’s a wonderful time of year!
 
While you’re exploring the Amalfi Coast, don’t forget that sites like the Villa Romana ruins in Minori are open year round and are free to visit. Take note that the Museo della Carta (Paper Museum) in Amalfi is closed in February for maintenance.
 
Ah … the month of love begins in the place I love the most – the Amalfi Coast! Of course February means San Valentino, or Valentine’s Day. If the weather is nice, our favorite way to celebrate is to head out on a drive along the coastline or simply stroll along the port in Amalfi. No better way to celebrate than just enjoying the place I love most of all.

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“L’Estate di San Martino” in Amalfi

During breakfast this morning, I heard the weatherman on the TV talking about the “Estate di San Martino,” which means the Summer of San Martino. This is similar to what we call an Indian Summer in the USA. It’s when the weather is particularly nice after a cold spell, but it refers specifically to this period since the festival for San Martino takes place today. I looked out the window and it was a gloriously sunny day. A true and proper L’Estate di San Martino! We spent the morning running some errands before stopping at the Gran Caffè, which has outdoor seating overlooking the beach. You can spot the umbrellas in the upper right of the photo above. It’s one of my favorite spots in Amalfi for a Spritz or a light lunch. Today, with the sun shining down, it was perfection.

After lunch we took a leisurely stroll along the waterfront in Amalfi all the way to the end of the town’s largest pier and then back again. One of the things I love about Amalfi is that even though it’s small there’s a wonderful passeggiata if you walk from one end of the town to the other.

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The harbor still feels empty after the busy summer months, but the winter is my favorite time of the year for taking photos along the waterfront. There are still a few gozzo boats and the usual cast of colorful fishing boats that stick around all winter.

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Although the piazza was surprisingly busy, the waterfront was very quiet. It’s especially nice to walk along here after lunch, when many people are still resting. You can sit on a bench, take in this view below and for just a few minutes feel like you have it all to yourself.

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The sun was deliciously warm today, and a few people were even taking advantage of that on the Marina Grande beach. I would have loved to have spent a little bit more time in the sunshine. More rain and clouds are in the forecast for the week ahead – all the more reason to enjoy the sun today!

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I hope you enjoyed this quick update from a beautiful day in Amalfi. In this world of social media, it’s a pleasure to get back to my blogging roots. However, if you’d like to join me for more daily updates from the Amalfi Coast, you can find me on Instagram @ciaoamalfi.

 

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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Ravello Festival 2017 Schedule and Tickets

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Photo by Roberto Vuilleumier and used courtesy of the Ravello Festival

 

Every year I eagerly await the announcement of the Ravello Festival program, which runs from July to September in the City of Music. The Ravello Festival 2017 schedule has finally been announced! This year’s program kicks off on July 1st with Adam Fischer conducting the Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in a performance of works by Wagner – representing the roots of the Ravello Festival and Wagner’s connection with Ravello.

On July 2nd the festival changes gears dramatically from the historic inspiration of the festival to a night of contemporary dance, music and performance with noted Italian artist Francesco Clemente. This is sure to be an intriguing artistic evening in Ravello! There will also be an exhibit of Clemente’s work on display at the Villa Rufolo from July 2nd – September 30th.

Keeping with tradition, this year’s Ravello Festival presents a mix of performances in genres ranging from classical to opera, jazz and contemporary Italian and international musicians. Dance lovers will find some excellent shows to choose from, including the Stars of the American Ballet and Les Italiens de l’Opéra de Paris.

Highlights of this year’s program are Dianne Reeves on July 5th, Philip Glass on July 14th, the Wayne Shorter Quartet on July 16th, Antonello Venditti on August 4th and the traditional Concert at Dawn on August 11th.

You can book your tickets for the Ravello Festival 2017 at the online Box Office. If there’s a concert that catches your eye, it’s a good idea to book well in advance. Also,  a ticket buying tip: For inclement weather, the concerts can be moved from the Villa Rufolo gardens to the nearby Auditorium Oscar Niemeyer. However, since the space is more limited, only people with tickets in rows A, B, C, D, E, F e G will be allowed in. All other tickets are reimbursed. So if there’s a show you absolutely don’t want to miss, make sure to get a ticket in rows A to G.

Will you be seeing a show at the Ravello Festival this year? I’d love to hear which one!

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New Bus Service from Naples Airport to the Amalfi Coast

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Planning a trip to the Amalfi Coast and flying into the Naples Airport? Then I have some good news for you! There’s a new bus service that goes direct from the Naples Capodichino Airport to multiple destinations on the Amalfi Coast. And it only costs €15 per person! Reaching the Amalfi Coast by public bus has always been a bit of an adventure. It was hard for me to even recommend that as an option for travelers, especially if they didn’t speak Italian. Thankfully, Pintour has launched a new bus service the connects the Naples Airport with all of the towns on the Amalfi Coast from Vietri sul Mare to Amalfi. That includes stops at Vietri sul Mare, Raito, Cetara, Erchie, Maiori, Minori, Castiglione (where you would get off to catch a local bus up to Ravello), Atrani and Amalfi.

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There are four departure times from the Naples Airport (9:00, 12:30, 16:00, 19.30) and four departure times from Amalfi (7:00, 10:30, 14:00, 17.30). The journey takes about 2 hours each way. Tickets cost €15 per person (€10 for kids under 12) each way, and can be purchased online here. For exact departure times from each stop along the way, check out the schedules below.

 

Bus Schedule for Naples to the Amalfi Coast

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Bus Schedule from Amalfi to the Naples Airport

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This is a much needed service on the Amalfi Coast – for both locals and travelers alike. The departure times from the Naples airport comfortably cover many of the flight times for travelers arriving to visit the Amalfi Coast. And for the departure, if you have a later morning or afternoon flight from Naples, this bus service has you covered, too. The only issue with departure times is for travelers heading to the United States since those flights often leave very early from the Naples airport to make international connecting flights in Italy or Europe. If you’re leaving at a flight around 7am like I often do when flying back to America, then booking a private taxi transfer will still likely be your best option. I know some of you will be asking, “And Positano?” That town is not covered in this bus service, and will have to be another post in itself! (Spoiler alert: It’s NOT easy.)

Note: I’m looking forward to trying out this bus service to the Naples Airport, but I haven’t used it yet personally. So for any additional questions on schedules or tickets, please contact Pintour here.