Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you! How about an unforgettable holiday with us at New Years’ Jazz in Italy?
What do we love about the Amalfi Coast? Well, there are the VIEWS – always astounding, always drawing oohs and aahs, whether we’re relaxing by the pool at our favorite Capri hotel, approaching iconic Positano from the water, gazing up at the majestic Duomo of Amalfi, posing before the Faraglioni rocks of Capri, watching Vesuvius fade into the distanceas we speed across the bay, pulling into Capri’s colorful Marina Grande before spiraling high above to Anacapri, or enjoying the vista from the Belvedere of Infinity in Ravello. We’ve taken in these views for nearly twenty years, and they still make us gasp anew each time!
Then there’s the food….a fritto misto fresh from the surrounding waters, a caprese salad created on the island for which it’s named,
pizza in the land of its birth, a lemon granita (a slushy) from our favorite cart up the hill in Positano,
fresh fish from the sea below us in Ravello, and that marvelous lemon-tinged lunch we learned how to make with our guests at Villa Maria Agriturismo, under the lemon groves above Minori, before enjoying it with yet another fabulous view.
We also love the history that surrounds us – that 13th century Moorish style cloister and loggia of the Duomo in Amalfi,the peaceful Villa San Michele, constructed in Anacapri for a Swedish doctor at the turn of the 19th century, incorporating relics from the ruins of a villa of Emperor Tiberius on which it was built,
the gardens and cloister of Villa Cimbrone, dating from the 11th century, and the mysterious 13th century passageways in Atrani and Amalfi, even more enticing after dark.
Is it any surprise that we chose this fabulous part of Italy to premier our Wonder Tours last spring?!
We’ll be back in April 2020 – why not join us and experience these wonders for yourself?
Monday, July 20, 2015
We’ll speed on the sea to Capri, but first we have to get to Amalfi from Maiori..along the barely-wide-enough-for-2-little-cars Amalfi Coast Highway…will these buses make it by each other? Not without a LOT of manoeuvring! I continue to be in awe of these patient and skillful drivers – I can’t imagine driving a car on this road (although Kirk does it expertly), much less a huge BUS!
The sea is wide open – no challenge to avoid other boats here – and soon Capri comes into view. See that dot of white about a third of the way down the ridge? That’s our destination – who knows what it is?!
We quickly load into a taxi and head up the rock from Marina Grande, and soon we’re walking the peaceful paths of Villa San Michele in Anacapri, Dr. Axel Munthe’s exquisite house and gardens built over the ruins of a Roman emperor’s palace in the early 1900s. We love how he incorporated Roman relics discovered during construction – a marble face here, a bit of a pillar there…Through the shaded gardens, we stroll to that white spot we saw from the sea on our approach…our group has expanded a bit, with the addition of two of the marvelous musicians of the Amalfi Coast Music Festival, pianist Boaz Sharon and flutist Nancy Stagnitta, who’s taking the photo.
And there, far below is where we sailed in, with this red granite sphinx gazing down on us – we could see the white building, but not this red speck from so far away. Olga and her daughter have been relaxing on the rooftop cafe, and we join them there before browsing the shops on the way back to Anacapri’s main square, then making our way to lunch at Il Solitario. Sharing a toast, we all agree that a Caprese Salad tastes best in Capri, and imagine the fishermen catching our lunch early this morning. The only way to get from the marina, and Capritown, to Anacapri until 1874 when a road was built, was a still-usable stairway zigzagged into the cliff. The ride down, along the side of Monte Solaro, is as scary as that staircase! Anacapri is the quieter, less-glitzy town on the island, Capritown is the one FILLED with high-end shops – including a grand total of FIVE Ferragamos! But as you know from our stay here earlier in July, the entire island is filled with beauty – keep looking around and up as you shop and stroll!A quick funicular descent, and we’re back on the boat towards the mainland – arrivederci, Capri! Oh how much beauty that rock hides in its crevices! Soon we’re pulling into Amalfi, and we meet again for a final dinner in Maiori. Chatting with Edith, the charming mother of Leslie, the festival director, we’re the last to leave…and tomorrow we’ll say goodbye to this gorgeous coast and head for Tuscany!
Sunday, July 19, 2015, continued
What better place to celebrate a significant birthday than the gorgeous Amalfi Coast? We’ve all been enjoying getting to know Maria, Olga’s lovely daughter – what a treat that she could join Olga here for this milestone birthday! The celebrating continues in Amalfi, first a shopping and sightseeing stroll, then dinner, where we’re seated with the directors of the festival, and the music begins, and the dinner proceeds, with a grand finale of a a birthday cake for Olga!A night-time stroll through those vaulted Arab Bath corridors is fun, then we return to the similarly Arab-influenced Duomo for the evening concert.Leslie gives us a tour of the highlights of the museum before we’re astounded with the mastery of young Chinese students from the Shanghai International Piano Institute – 4 of whom present a program including Bach, Beethoven, Ravel and Chopin in the intimate surroundings of the museum. Still in awe, we slowly walk through the cloister, and gather on the Duomo steps before returning to Maiori. What a birthday to remember!
Sunday, July 19, 2015
Maiori, Vietri-sul-Mare, Italy
After that August interlude in France with our grandaughter, let’s return to Italy, picking up where we left off on the Amalfi Coast.
On this summer Sunday, a few of us want to fit in a morning hike to the Castle of San Nicola de Thoro-Plano above Maiori. In reality the old ruins cannot be considered a castle in the literal sense, but a protected area consisting of a fortress built (beginning in the 800s!) as a bulwark and refuge for the population against the frequent attacks of the outlaws from Lombardy and later the Barbary pirates.
The three of us are joined by a couple of playful pups, and as we pause for a look at the town and sea below, they rest for the final climb. Inside the fortified perimeter there were once barracks and shelters able to house a large battalion and hundreds of citizens seeking shelter, but today just one man lives there – here’s his mailbox. We pass him on his way down for morning coffee and newspaper. Wow – he must stay in shape with this at-least-once-a-day trek up and down!
Kirk and Jenny go all the way up, and walk around the fortress as far as there is a passable path. I chicken out on the last part of the hike, and enjoy the view, along with a cat taking a morning stretch. As I sit, a young teen comes up, unlocks the storage shed under the stretching cat, and hefts out several jugs of red wine, then takes them down, two at a time, multiple flights to a car parked below. Soon Jenny and Kirk join me, and as we begin our descent, we’re stopped in our tracks as sunlight tinges the town below and Sunday bells ring out over the valley.
The descent goes more quickly, of course, than the ascent, and soon we’re back in Maiori, where it’s time to pile in the car for the winding drive to Vietri sul Mare, famous for ceramics since Roman times. One artisan has designed a wall of tiles telling of the history of the village, pirate attacks and all. A bit of shopping, a bit of posing, then back to Maiori for lunch by the sea. El Dorado has quickly become a favorite, and although I plan on a healthy salad for lunch, I can not resist the lemon ricotta ravioli. We’ll soon be leaving the coast, and where else would I find such luscious lemon pasta?!
The smoked swordfish and eggplant parmesan is also delicious – as is everything we order. We’re celebrating today – it’s Olga’s birthday, and her daughter has traveled long and far to join us for a few days. More festivities this evening…to be continued-
Friday, July 17, 2015
Amalfi and Positano, Italy
Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
How about celebrating Mozart in the matchless city of Bath, England in November?
Our favorite aspect of the Hotel Reginna Palace, headquarters of the festival, is the beautiful pool area and garden, where we enjoy breakfast and dinner each day. Sheltered by lush wisteria vines and lemon trees, the terrace is such an inviting place to start each day. We’re heading for Positano today, and to get there from Maiori, we take a small boat to Amalfi, taking in the views of yesterday’s destination, Ravello, high on a rocky point (that white contemporary hanging on the side is Gore Vidal’s former home), passing adorable little Atrani – one of our favorite authentic Amalfi coast lovelies,
and taking advantage of the hour before our next ferry to walk into Amalfi, bravely crossing the two lane Amalfi Coast Highway in between buses and cars. Amalfi’s relatively quiet this early in the morning, and it’s fun to peek into whitewashed corridors (Arab baths from the 1300s) and note how stairs rise immediately on either side of the one street through town. Friends who’ve rented an apartment here talked of descending 80 plus steps each morning to the bakery, then UP again!
Filling our bottles with cold water from the hills above, we board the larger ferry for the half hour cruise to Positano.Gorgeous sailboats are moored offshore- the eye-catching pastels of the town must be a lovely sight from there – and one yacht even has a water slide off the upper deck – looks like fun!While the ladies started shopping,Kirk bought tart lemon granitas for all from our favorite lady-and-the-boat at the top of Positano’s winding lanes – this is where the Amalfi Coast road comes through Positano, and where the only bus stop is- quite a hike above the shore. Then Kirk doctored the icy treat with his little bottle of limoncello – wow what a taste! Cheers!We’ll consider that treat our aperitif – now on to lunch, along the cliffside path, past the Saracen tower that’s been nicely renovated into a vacation rental. Perched on the cliffside, O Guaracino has our table ready, along with a chilled pitcher of crisp local white, and plenty of cold water (yes, it’s still HOT!)With views from one side to another, friendly, welcoming staff, and the freshest of seafood cooked on an open fire, it’s our favorite Positano restaurant.
And a little more lemon is the perfect finish to our feast.Back to Maiori on our two-ferry trip, and perhaps there’s time for a dip in the pool before dinner?Then a stroll down the Corso to the town hall for tonight’s concert – chamber music under the colorful frescoes.