Seaside Beauties of the Amalfi Coast

Seaside Beauties of the Amalfi Coast

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. 07171501 breakfast garden under lemonsWe’re heading for Positano today, and to get there from Maiori, we take a small boat to Amalfi, 07171501 ferry to amalfitaking 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),07171501 ravello above passing adorable little Atrani – one of our favorite authentic Amalfi coast lovelies, 07171502 adorable atrani

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. 07171502 awe inspiring amalfiAmalfi’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.07171502 awed by arab baths narrow lane and steps up on both sides 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,07171502 bottles filled we board the larger ferry for the half hour cruise to Positano.07171502 ferry larger to posGorgeous sailboats are moored offshore- the eye-catching pastels of the town must be a lovely sight from there – 07171502 yachts offshoreand one yacht even has a water slide off the upper deck – looks like fun!07171502 slide on yachtWhile the ladies started shopping,07171503 as some shoppedKirk bought tart lemon granitas for all from our favorite lady-and-the-boat at the top of Positano’s winding lanes – 07171503 kirk bought lemon granitas from the girl and the boat at top of townthis is where the Amalfi Coast road comes through Positano, and where the only bus stop is-  quite a hike above the shore. 07171503 l by top of townThen Kirk doctored the icy treat with his little bottle of limoncello – wow what a taste! 07171503 then doctored them up with his stash of limoncelloCheers!07171504 cheersWe’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. 07171504 cliff path by saracen tower now rentalPerched 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!)07171504 cold water and crisp white at guarWith views from one side to another,07171504 either side views friendly, welcoming staff, and the freshest of seafood cooked on an open fire, 07171504 feast with viewit’s our favorite Positano restaurant.
And a little more lemon is the perfect finish to our feast.07171504 refreshing sorbet perfect finishBack to Maiori on our two-ferry trip, and perhaps there’s time for a dip in the pool before dinner?07171505 fit in a swimThen a stroll down the Corso 07171505 walk to town hallto the town hall for tonight’s concert – 07171506 concertchamber music under the colorful frescoes.


Feasting in Capri

Feasting in Capri

Monday, July 13, 2015, continued
Capri, 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?

After that VERY strenuous hike we deserve a good meal or two, right?! And some nice relaxing time by the pool too! On the way to the pool Kirk can’t resist deadheading (he actually does this wherever he goes in the world)…he always leaves a garden prettier than when he arrived. 07131503 the deadheaderAnother plus at San Felice, the beautiful pool…with lots of chaises to soak in the sun, and inviting corners in which to relax under an umbrella. 07131503 why not relax heeThe poolside bar offers an extensive menu, and a glass of cold crisp white is the perfect aperitif as we choose our lunches.07131503 z lunch by pool“My brother caught these this morning…” says the owner…07131504 brother caughtBut we decide on something lighter – a salad for me, grilled vegetables and buffalo mozzarella for Kirk….and we’re wowed by the size of the mozzarella! 07131504 massive mozzThe afternoon’s spent napping and relaxing by the pool – now I REALLY feel like we’re on vacation!
We’ve chosen another place with a view for dinner, and aren’t disappointed. Panorama’s been open less than a year, and in addition to the obviously spectacular view, 07131504 walked down between marina and townthere’s a garden right beside the outdoor dining area, 07131504 under lemon tree dinnerand the meal is as delicious as the vista. Capri, you’re a delight!

Orvieto in the Snow

Orvieto in the Snow

Saturday, February 4, 2012, continued
Orvieto, Italy

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
Next on the itinerary: Our spring tours in Barcelona, Venice or Prague

What a treat to see Orvieto in the snow! The buttressed cliffs and zig-zag ascent look distinctly different splashed in white. We wind up the hill, and are one of the very few vehicles allowed to enter the town – so glad we didn’t have to lug our suitcases up to the hotel! Link

Our favorite Orvieto hotel, gracious Palazzo Piccolomini, greets us with a smile and we quickly settle into our room – and take a peek at the rooftops as we’ve never seen them before.

Lucy, our guide, thinks fast on her feet, and has arranged a nice lunch for us and the Barberani winemakers (since we were unable to visit the winery due to the road conditions) at Caffé Montanucci, an always-popular spot in the center of town. Niccolo pours,

and Bernardo describes the wines as snow drifts down on the Michelangeli giraffes in the shaft between the café rooms.

In all of the years we’ve been coming to Orvieto, we’ve never seen beneath the city, Orvieto Underground, so we’re excited that this is part of the International Wine Tourism tour. We bundle up and enjoy the views of the city in the snow…
a snow-draped Vespa

the bell-ringers high on the clock tower,

the glorious cathedral

mosaics more vivid than ever against the gray skies.

Beyond the cathedral the sheer cliffs hide the secret passages of long ago…

where remnants of an ancient olive oil mill age in one cavern.

We climb up and down narrow steep steps carved deep into the rock, and come upon a vista we’ve often enjoyed from above – gorgeous in the drifting snow.

to be continued…

Wine for Breakfast

Wine for Breakfast

Saturday, February 4, 2012
Umbria, Italy

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
Next on the itinerary: Our spring tours in Barcelona, Venice or Prague

When we met with some of the wineries and travel providers from Torgiano while in Perugia, they told us that it does not snow in their area. And sure enough, although it’s freezing cold, there has been no snow on the ground in Torgiano and surrounding villages.
You don’t have to look far to see the sheen of white, though, as the mountains in the not-too- far distance are draped in snow.

As we begin our journey we appreciate a rare sight – olive groves in the snow!

Doesn’t that white stuff make the patchwork of fields look more defined and beautiful?

We’re enjoying the vistas – and SO glad that we’re not doing the driving! We’ve heard that the other two post-conference tours – one to the region of Tuscany, the other to the Marche coastal region – have been stalled by the severity of the snow, and that the participants are stuck in their hotels, unable to see the scheduled sights. What a blessing that we’re able to keep going and see nearly all of what was planned for us!
On our itinerary we read “Breakfast at the winery” – but the gracious owner of Villa Zuccari would not hear of sending us away without something – “just some coffee and cakes”. She prepared a spread of scrumptious home-made cakes, and it was a good thing because when we arrived at the Antonelli San Marco winery, the tour of the facility came first.

We shivered in the wind as Brunella told us about the wine beneath our feet,

and were happy to get inside, taking a huge wine-box- lined elevator down to where it was a little warmer for the rest of the story.
After seeing where this award winning elixir is made, we dashed across the snow and into the house, gathering ‘round a roaring fire. Due to the storm the house lost power, and the heat has been off all night, so it’s a while before the room warms up enough and we can take off our coats and scarves.

The lack of electricity sure didn’t affect the breakfast preparations – platters of crunchy bruschetta, cheeses, and wine preserves,

melt-in your-mouth pears baked in wine,

and this may be the first time we’ve had wine with our breakfast – generous pours of both white and red.

Sated and warm, we climb back on the bus, trusting our competent and cautious driver Vanni to get us to our next stop, the Barberani winery near Orvieto.

The road situation worsens as we drive south, and our tour guide gets a call from the winery: their driveway is impassable, and they will meet us in Orvieto, bringing their wines to us instead of vice versa.

Dinner with Salvatore at Caprai Winery

Dinner with Salvatore at Caprai Winery

Friday, February 3, 2012, continued
Umbria, Italy

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
Next on the itinerary: Our spring tours in Barcelona, Venice or Prague

We cooked and we ate, now we’re back on the bus, heading for our next wine adventure.
Snow covered Umbrian towns flash by the window,

and we soon pull into the courtyard of Hotel Villa Zuccari, an historic family home from the 15th century that is now a welcoming and lovely hotel. Oh how we’d love to relax in this cozy salon, leafing through the books and magazines. But we have just enough time to check in, drop our luggage in our room, and then back on the bus once again!
Another winery awaits – the Arnaldo Caprai estate in Montefalco. First, a wine tasting – Sagrantino, of course. Caprai, founded in 1971, has since been the leader in the revival of the Sagrantino di Montefalco grape. Grown in the area for more than 400 years, it had fallen out of use and favor, but thanks to research and long-term experimentation, Caprai and other local producers now offer top quality wines that uniquely express the terroir of Montefalco. And there’s nothing like sipping a wine just steps from where it was grown – along with a nibble of that other Umbrian/ Tuscan delight, bruschetta. Once again it’s doused with the estate’s own green and grassy new olive oil.

Upstairs, a beautifully appointed table awaits us, silver glowing, glasses
sparkling in candlelight from the massive fireplace.

Salvatore Denaro and his minions have been hard at work in the kitchen, preparing dinner . He walks us through the feast that is coming our way – pasta, hearty beef and savory sauces on the stove, and dessert chilling in the cooler.

A few of us can’t resist that pasta dough and just have to help roll out the umbrichelli (thick spaghetti).

After that fantastic lunch we created, it’s hard to believe we can devour another feast, but we rise to the occasion, enjoying course after course,

accompanied by more excellent Caprai vintages.

We are really enjoying this group of wine-loving travel experts. Nearly every year we join a group of fellow travel professionals on such a tour, and this bunch has been the most fun – each one is a pleasure to spend time with as we make our way from one Umbrian vineyard to another.