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« From Rome - Bucatini all' Amatriciana | Main | Edible Easter Egg Nests »
Wednesday
Apr112012

Italy 

Positano
(all photos in this post taken with my iPhone through Camera Plus)

 

For those of you who follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you know that I just got back from Italy.  We spent a few days in Rome and then went to the Campania region of Italy, which included the Island of Capri and the Amalfi Coast.  It was really hard to come back, to say the least. 


Capri at night
 

The Amalfi Coast really got to me.  We've been to other areas of Italy before but I think by far it's the most beautiful area yet.  I wanted to go to the Island of Capri, where my parents honeymooned.  It was my favorite place.  Not only was the island so beautiful, but the food was so great.  The island is covered in lemon groves and everyone has a vegetable garden there.  We were directed by the men at our hotel to a little place that the locals go to eat and we had a lunch that knocked us out.  It was an unassuming place with local workers having their lunch - just a diner, Capri style

lunch at Verginiello on Capri


The Caprese Salad at this place was made with the real deal - the incredible mozarella di bufala - buffalo milk mozzarella - that is made in this region of Italy. When you taste it, you realize you've never really tasted mozzarella cheese before. It's just out of this world. It's on the pizzas, too and takes them to a different level. 

the perfect breakfast on Capri - lemon cake, fresh orange, cappuccino

 

My older brother, his wife and one of my nephews traveled with us. We based ourselves out of Sorrento and did day trips to Heculaneum, Positano, Amalfi and Ravello (another favorite).  One of the things that being in this area allowed us to do was to go to Naples, where my older brother was born.  My husband had the idea that it would be fun to try to find the very piazza that an old photograph was taken in of my mother and my brother. People helped identify that piazza for us and we actually found it and took some pictures there.  I couldn't be in Naples, though, and not try to make the mecca to da Michele for pizza, considered ground zero for authentic Neopolitan pizza.  You may have read about it

the line at da Michele in Naples


Well, after we walked through the absolute craziness that is this part of Naples, the line was as I feared - out the door. But I had a backup plan because anyone who is familiar with da Michele knows that Trianon, across the street, is a definite contender. In fact, our Italian guide that we had on our Colosseum tour told us he likes Trianon better than da Michele.  At any rate, the pizza was fantastic and we washed it down with Italian beer.

One of the things I really got a kick out of eating in this area was the fried fresh anchovies.  For all you anchovy haters out there, these are totally different. They're crunchy, fresh and they sprinkle them with sea salt and pepper and give you lemons to squeeze over them.  They are so good - but my brother was the only one who would eat them with me!  Of course, he used to fix anchovy sandwiches when we were kids. 


fried fresh anchovies in Sorrento at Ristorante Bagni Delfino - an amazing
seafood restaurant on the water 


The produce that you see all over the Amalfi coast is incredible.  These people have the most amazing ingredients. The streets of Sorrento are lined with beautiful orange trees, full of fruit and the entire Amalfi coast is filled with lemon groves everywhere.  I brought back some intense hot chili peppers from Amalfi but what I really wanted to do was to stuff my suitcase full of those incredible lemons.   Not allowed! All I want to do now is cook with lemons - you will definitely be seeing some lemon recipes coming up.  

lemons in Sorrento

 

An interesting marketing ploy in Amalfi

 

Amalfi and Positano were beautiful towns but I really fell in love with Ravello.  It is way up high and the bus ride up there was amazing - those Italian bus drivers on the Amalfi coast are truly skilled.  Once you are up in Ravello, the views are amazing and the villas you can tour are beautiful.  This little town is so peaceful and unique.

Ceramic Shop in Ravello

 

Villa Cimbrone

Villa Cimbrone terrace in Ravello. Click the
link for some amazing pictures 


I am always struck when I go to Italy by the food - the quality of ingredients and the attention to detail always amazes me.  We just don't have that here in the United States.  In Italy, it seems every little shop or diner takes such great pride in the food.  There is a real difference there. 

shop in Rome

 

Nothing proves that point better than stopping at an Italian rest stop. On our way back to Rome from the coast, I had hired a driver to take us back and he stopped halfway during the trip at a rest stop.  It was incredible.  The food was amazing at this place and so beautifully displayed.  They had everything from real Porchetta to platters of vegetables, beautiful pannini, suppli and bottles of wine. There is just nothing like it in this country.  We have hot dogs and twirling pretzels.

 

Italian rest stop food - seriously

 

Gnocchi with Black Truffle in Trastevere at La Scala.  One of the most amazing dishes ever.

 

We went to Trastevere one night for dinner.  This neighborhood has sure changed over the years.  When Brian and I first went to Italy many years ago, this was just a working class neighborhood with really great food.  Then Madonna showed up. Now it's a really happening place - it's very crowded with tourists. But the food is still outstanding and the charm factor is still high.  We had a killer Negroamaro wine at La Scala where we ate - we've been sampling Negroamaros everywhere we go and it's been fun.


Gelataria del Teatro in Rome

 

We ate way too much gelato in Italy.  Sometimes twice a day.  What is it with the Italians and gelato?  Every 50 feet is a gelato shop.  We don't have ice cream every 50 feet over here.  It's just not fair.  And it's so good.  I used to go to Italy and be able to resist.  But what the heck - life is short and nociolla gelato is so good. 

crab ravioli with the most delicious zucchini sauce
at La Basilica Ristorante in Sorrento 

 

It was so energizing and inspiring to be in Italy with all that great food.  I'm looking forward to doing some Roman and Amalfi coast cooking with you!  

 

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Reader Comments (70)

Elaine,
Thank you for sharing your fabulous trip with us! GORGEOUS photos. I am dreaming of artichokes and bucatini Amatriciana in Rome!

Stacey

May 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStacey Snacks

Love your blog. The post is amazing. The photos are gorgeous. Thank you very much for sharing. I am looking forward for your Amalfi coast recipes:)

May 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterElena

Hi, my name is Erika and I just found out your blog: it's amazing! I'm italian, precisely from Vicenza which is situated in the Northern Italy. Maybe you know my city for the american barracks, Ederle and Dal Molin.
Anyway, I'm glad I can read an american blog about italian food which is really about italian food! So, congrats and wishes from Italy!
p.s.: sorry for my english! :P

May 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterErika

Hi there, Either I am insane (quite possible), had one to many (quite probable) or I can not find a "contact me" button. Having made a couple of your recipes I have determined that you are heaven sent. Can I make a recipe request? Do you have a wonderful marinara? I do not have a good sauce (or gravy as some call it) and would love a great recipe. Thanks so much!

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercookin mama

From The Italian Dish:

Cookin Mama: Haha! I do have a "Contact Me" link. If you look in my middle sidebar, down at the bottom, there is a column of icons, including facebook, twitter, etc. This first icon is an envelope. That is the symbol for e-mail, believe it or not.

As for marinara sauce, I have often thought I needed to post a recipe for that - such a basic thing yet I'm asked a lot for one on the blog. Everyone's recipe is a little different. I will definitely post mine soon - watch for it.

May 7, 2012 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

my husband and I are going to the amalfi coast, capri, and naples. where in capri did you eat that delicious looking lemon cake? if you have any other restaurant recommendations in Naples or along the amalfi coast other than the ones named in your post, I would love to know. Many thanks!

July 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteramy

Your Italia fotos as well as the carefully chosen words are wonderful. Thnks for sharing. My spouse and I visited Italia summer '08, hope to return again some day.
Plus I'm enjoy your site _ attempting the potato pizza later for this evenings dinner. I think we will enjoy al fresco.
Ciao e gratis
Michele

July 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMichele

Wow!! How wonderful!! Love the pictures and the personality of italy, it doesnt get any better then that, it reminds me of my dad and grandma .what a wonderful smell of italian food, the picyures really make you feel like your there in Italy. I cant wait to start cooking with you. Thank you for your blog.

September 25, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermonica rossi

Oh my...I'm almost in tears! A few years ago my family had the opportunity to live in Firenze for a year. Of course we took advantage of that and traveled as much as we could. I miss it so much. One of our trips was to Pompeii and Napoli. The coast was soooo beautiful. The whole country is in different ways. I miss our almost daily trips to the Mercato Centrale and my 4 children (at the time--I have 5 now:) playing in the piazzas every day! I just stumbled onto your blog via Pinterest. I LOVE it! I'm a firm believer in sit down family meals and love to cook. I love your paintings too. Thanks for all you do!

October 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTrisha

I loved this post!! It's my dream to go to Italy for at least a few months....

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersherice@foodieluvsfitness

Love it~Your post, fotos, & reader comments refreshed my memories of our vac to the Amalfi Coast last September. Ah--the food--the lemons--will justify return trips. Enjoyed a meal at La Basilica. Another real great food find was La Buffalita...many samples of varios buffalo cheeses and several great buffalo meat entrees. Reservations a must, but they can be made from a small shop of the same name on Sorrento's main plaza.

Wow - BTW, I prepared your recipe for beet ravioli for Easter. Served as a primi on a bed of green noodles...looked just like a bird's nest with 3 red ravioli "eggs". Used a combo of mild garlic/4-pepper & plain chevre that I found in a 3-pack at Trader Joes (Crottin Blanchevre) Simple sauce of brown butter/sage with a sprinkle of pistachios.

April 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTina

I so love these photos. Seeing them makes me want to return to Italy.

May 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNicole

My mailbox doesn't get spammed with an email from you every day, so when I see one come in, I am sure to open it. How wonderful this story is, so glad I got to see it.

My dream is to take my mother to Italy once in her life. This is the place we must go.

Thank you for sharing

June 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTrish

I just stumpled on your page. The fish in Italy may be fresher, but I fry sardines and anchovies all the time.

June 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterElisa

My daughters and I are going to the Amalfi Coast in two weeks. Thank you so much for this post, such gorgeous photos, mention of restaurants and things to do and see. Can't wait to go and see for myself. Love your recipes and food ideas and look forward to all of them..

August 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarj

Loved reading this post! My mom, sisters & I are leaving for Italy in one week and reading this just made me so excited!! I can't wait to be on the Amalfi coast and enjoying all that incredible food. Thanks for the pizzeria recommendations too :)

September 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMicha @ blissful bites

Great view and delicious foods. Hope to be there too.

January 20, 2015 | Unregistered Commentercelecoxib dosage

Hello, I just found your blog while searching for limoncello recipes. I love it, and am going to use this particular post as a guide to planning an Italy trip next year. You have some gorgeous recipes here, and as a beginning quilter, I'm also enjoying your sewing blog. Nice to see you are in Michigan - I'm over in GR.

April 15, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKim

Oh my goodness I almost cried when I read this post ... You have captured the essence of Italy. my husband and I are planning on going to Italy this summer. Actually more like the fall. do you think that's a good idea ? we were going to take a Mediterranean cruise but after reading your post I'm thinking maybe we should try the way you did it but I'm afraid because we've never travelled before and we have mobility issues. Oh what to do?

You are amazing

April 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAnnie

From The Italian Dish:

Annie: In my opinion, the Fall is a much better time to visit Italy than the summer. The crowds and the heat are two factors that I just can't contend with in the summer. As for taking a cruise, that is just personal preference. You will obviously see much more of Italy if you go by car! We did not rent a car, we got around by train a little and used Sorrento SilverStar, a wonderful company where you can hire a driver to take you around anywhere you want to go! Here is the link to them:

http://www.sorrentosilverstar.com

You can also hire guides that help you get around, if you don't want to do it on your own.

Hope this helps!
Elaine

April 21, 2016 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

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