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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 (66)

Gorgeous photographs!!!

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth Minchilli

Wonderful pictures! My younget daughter and I went to Rome last year and had a fantastic time! But I really want to go back and see the areas that you just visited. Love that country! Would recommend it to everyone! And you are right, you can't get this food here at home! Looking forward to your upcoming dishes! Great work!

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCheri Shirey

Ravello is our absolute favorite place in Italy. We stay at a little hotel called the Villa Amore with simple rooms and gorgeous views.

I'd love to know the specific restaurants for the truffle gnocchi and the ravioli with zucchini.

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCyndy

My favorite dish last year in an agrIturismo outside Sorrento was homemade pasta with baby zucchini and lemon sauce - simple and sublime! Haven't been able to duplicate it at home, as I can't get baby zukes in Deutschland (We're an Army family and moved up from Italy). My memory has now faded a bit on the exact flavor, so if you come up with something without the crab, I'd love to try it! Moving back to the States this summer, so no time to grow my own little squash :( I'm convinced that made a huge difference!

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCinziaM

Thank you for sharing the glorious photos! My husband and I are planning a trip to Italy with our 2 kids, end of June into July. We are considering Rome and Amalfi coast, including Capri, Napoli, Ravenna etc. Did you use a specific tour company for your trip? If so, would you be willing to pass on that info? Thanks so much, enjoy your posts so much!

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

I too thought the Amalfi coast was the most beautiful place I'd ever been. It's been about 5 years since I was there. We also stayed in Sorrento as it seemed to be the easiest place to get to everywhere else. Catching the ferry just outside our hotel we also went to Capri and Positano. I wanted to go to Ravello for the ceramics but we never did.

Did you go into the caves. The name escapes me now but the day we went the tide was too high and ugh the water was choppy but the sea was the most beautiful.

I don't know why anyone would want to live anywhere else. Your photo are lovely what type of camera and shots are you taking.

I took some wonderful pictures as well but not as authentic looking as yours. I've been looking forward to returning ever since we left - it's heaven on earth!

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVicki Bensinger

Wow! Thank you for sharing. I would love to see these places in person one day.

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

Elaine, Fantastic article, pix and trip. I'm amazed that you took those with you Iphone and not the 60D! We too love the Amalfi Coast. Kim and I , with my brother and her sister (it's a family thing ;-) went and rented a Villa in Priano. It was magical. We also went to Herculanium, Revello, and Capri too! I just love the pace of life there and the markets are fantastic. Each it's own speciality. Thanks for sharing.

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSteve Z

Is there a word that means homesick for a place that isn't home? I need that word to convey the feelings these pictures brought me--a longing for the time when my husband and I got to live in the Veneto region. The food -- so, so good (and the rest stops still continue to amaze me--such a treat to stop!) And the beauty all around. Living in Texas, it also was incredible to me that we could get on the train or in the car and be in a definitely different place within an hour or two.

Thanks so much for sharing your trip--it looks like it was an amazing time. And I love the last two photos the most!

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLara

I can't wait to see what you cook I've started cooking Italian food again and getting back to my roots. I want that zucchini sauce. There is nothing like Italian food (authentic from Italy) anywhere else in the world. I love your comment hot dogs and twirling pretzels. We hate to take long road trips for fear of what we might have to get stuck eating. But I remember that in Italy even the train station served good food.

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterangela@spinachtiger

These pictures are so unbelievable!!! I want to go right NOW!!!!

Thank You so much for sharing!

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCindysoowho

I missed the blurb at the top of your post that you used your iPhone with Camera +. I just read about it and watched the tutorial. I'm going to get that app now. I can't wait to see how it works.

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVicki Bensinger

Wow! Beautiful AND delicious!! This may be my favorite blog entry of yours, Elaine. The very best part is that we were fortunate enough to experience it right along with you all! What a special, magical trip that we will never forget. Time well spent with family!! When is the next adventure? Uh, maybe after we pay for this one ;-)
XO

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLeta

My biggest wish is to someday travel to Italy, but I'm afraid I won't want to come back.... Based on these photos, that fear is real.

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

From The Italian Dish:

Cyndy: The place we ate at in Trastevere where I had the black truffle gnocchi was "Ristorante La Scala", - Piazza della Scala 60. The place in Sorrento was "La Basilica", just a few steps from the main piazza, Piazza Tasso, in an alleyway - Via Sant’Antonino, 28. Both were outstanding.

Lisa: Lucky you! No, I did not use a tour company. I just cobbled together the trip myself. It did take a lot of time. I relied, once again, on the wonderful Italian travelers at Slow Travel. That website helps me so much when I go to Italy.

Steve Z: Thanks! I debated about whether to take my 60D to Italy but I couldn't bear the thought of lugging it around. The camera on my iPhone 4S is so outstanding, I really didn't miss my larger camera!

Leta: You guys were the perfect travel companions!

April 11, 2012 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

Hi!
Beautiful pictures of Positano and around.
I´ve just bought an Iphone 4S and still haven´t tried my camera
Somebody told me to download Instagram, that´s what I did, but I think your camera plus works much better from what I´ve seen.
Love from the north of Spain
Marialuisa

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarialuisa

From The Italian Dish:

Marialuisa: You will love your iPhone 4S camera! I do post everything to Instagram, but I prefer the filters and borders on Camera +. I edit the photo first through Camera +, then post it to Instagram.

April 11, 2012 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

Thank you so much for posting these pictures. Wow. So amazing. Italy was one of my favorite countries of the 12 I've visited. I didn't make it to any of these towns though - I must go back!

Also, I wanted to thank you for this blog. My family is Italian but the whole family moved to Florida when I was a child (I live in NJ) and my Italian grandmother passed long ago. I truly missed out on the Italian family experience but reading your blog helps me feel like I have a new Italian relative teaching me the ways of Italian cooking even though we've never met! Thank you!

Thank you so much for sharing your trip with us. I have always wanted to visit there, but haven't provided that opportunity for myself yet. My family is from Calabria and I hope to visit yet. Can't wait to see what you come up with, particularly with the inspiration of lemons. They are my number one go to ingredient!

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercynthia

I was stationed in Naples for 3 years (USN) and had my very first meal there at da Michele. FABULOUS! Thanks posting some great pictures...brought back memories of my own.

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCeleste

Beautiful photographs. Thanks for sharingn them! Sounds lilke you had an amazing time. Please try to re-create a recipe a meal with the zucchini sauce.

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercarol

We are getting ready to make our third trip to Italy, this time to the Northern regions. Your pictures got my mouth watering and my heart beating anxiously to get back to the place I fell in love with. I am looking forward to experiencing the different cullinary dishes associated with this region. I am always grateful for the wonderful hospitality that's been bestowed on us wherever we've traveled in Italy.

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJanet

Thanks so much for the beautiful pictures. Brought back memories of visits to the region which simply is my favorite place in Italy...so picturesque...And the food? Heavenly!

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterArlene

Elaine, I always love your blogs but this one was my favorite because of your fabulous travel-mates; your older brother(my son-in-law), my daughter & grandson, your husband & son! To your list of talents we must add: Best Travel Guide! I enjoyed following you thru Leta's pictures. So glad you found the piazza where that wonderful picture of George and his mom was taken. Thanks so much for getting George back to his birthplace. I think of your mom often and wish I'd met her! Thanks for your wonderful photos and interesting text. Of course George would eat anchovies with you! Also, I could feel your pain leaving great Italian lemons there because I bring Meyer lemons home from CA.

I'm thankful we were able to visit Italy in our youth and 40 & 50 years later. I have good memories. Many thanks for rekindling them and even make me think about cooking again!

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjean

You make me so homesick, even though I am from a different part of Italy.
I need to go back.

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFrancesca

Elaine, I am in Naples FL with my parents. We enjoyed your beautiful photos & comments. What a wonderful time you shared with George & family. We all miss you & hope to see you this summer!

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterElaine Kleeman

Thanks for sharing these, what a lovely trip. I am looking forward to the recies. I made the kataifi nests for Easter and they were a big hit. Many thanks.

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMary

I cannot believe these gorgeous photos were taken with a phone! I scrolled through the post and "oohed and aaahed" with each one! The one with the anchovies is amazing! I can literally see the grains of slat on the knife! Lovely! :)

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBella

Beautiful photographs.

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle S.

I'm super jealous of your trip! I've never been to the Amalfi Coast but I've been to other parts of Italy. Can't wait to visit one day!

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

Thank you so so so much for this post. The photography is beautiful! Just stunning. Oh how I miss so much of Rome. When I lived there Trastevere was perfect, still completely local, but you could feel that it was on the verge of "up and coming" status and had plenty of really interesting and great places accordingly. One of my favorite places on the planet.

And just hearing about eating gelato twice a day makes me instantly recall the utter logic of doing so. From an American desk? No. Walking Italian streets? Unquestionably.

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTJ

I'm going to Rome in 9 days and this post made me even more excited for my long-awaited trip! I've never been to Italy before. Thank you so much for sharing your experience! :-)

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRobyn

WOW, Loved this post Elaine, thanks for sharing! I'm now dreaming of a trip there, thanks to your beautiful photography! Those views are breathtaking, definitly on my bucket list!

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarie

This not only makes me want to return to Italy, but makes me amazingly hungry

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdiane stanley

Thank you so much for the wonderful pictures. This makes me want to return to Italy - maybe in 2013!

April 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSheree

This all looks so amazing! My husband's grandfather is from Naples so we really want to visit fit in particular, but really all of Italy looks so amazing! thanks for sharing this. You make me so excited to eat some amazing pizza in Naples someday! :)

April 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRach

There is truly nothing like Italy!

April 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoan Nova

Oh how I love Italy! Thanks for sharing! Glad you had a wonderful trip!

April 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMaria

This is the first time I have come across your blog and I love it! I will be a regular visitor from now on. Your photos are just gorgeous.

April 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCathy

I loved this post! Italy has to be my #1 Europe destination - some day! My FIL was born in Florence and came to America when he was 12.

My husband and I have been watching David Rocco's Italian cooking show - and one of them is based off of the Almafi Coast and the scenery is stunning.

But what I really want to find now is that zucchini sauce!

April 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBiz

Love your blog and pictures and have certainly enjoyed hearing about the trip from Leta. I'm also hoping to get to meet you when you travel to Tower Place!!!

April 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKathy

Elaine, I really enjoyed your post. The photos are lovely and the food looks wonderful. I can't wait to return to Italy, soon, I hope.

April 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie M

The Amalfi coast is indeed a very special and beautiful place. I loved all your photos and the talk about the food - You're so right about how even at small, out-of-the way places and rest stops, the food is so far superior to what we have here in the U.S. pride of ingredients - home grown - is their mantra.

April 15, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterciaochowlinda

Lovely post Elaine. I'm glad you enjoyed it despite the weather. I just got back too and remember seeing those two boats in the bay of Fornillo from my house. Maybe we were looking out at the same time!

April 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRosa

What a great post Elaine! I loved reading your re-cap of your trip. It makes me miss Italy even more now. You simply cannot eat poorly in Italy when you visit all the restaurants where the locals eat. Looking forward to your upcoming recipes!

April 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFlavia

I think I started to love Italy. The photo's are inviting and the foods looks so yummy. Thanks for allowing me to visit Italy even just for a picture.

April 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commentertrade plumbing supplies

Italy is great, my country! The food is the best in the world!

The post is very good, pictures and information, very nicely taken!

I use www.about-italian-food.com for some great recipes and information!

Mario

April 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMario Romano

Love the photos and the blog you should share a little about your blog and maybe a few photos n my site. I'd be only to happy to give you a link back. Maybe share why you love Italy at http://www.venice-italy-veneto.com/italy-special.html ?

April 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMaria

Thoroughly enjoyed your post and photos with one small exception. I can't fathom why you photographed some of your meals after they are half eaten? Yuck!

April 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarol

Show me photos of Positano and my heart melts. I loved your pics. carla

April 30, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercarla

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