Ciao Bella Italia!
My summer in Amalfi and top 10 highlights
Our view from Orto Paradiso
1. Lemons everywhere you look! If you know me by now, then you'll know that lemons are my absolute favourite fruit! I drink my lemon water every morning, and that sunshine yellow just makes you happy. They hang like little lanterns in Amalfi and create a good mood wherever you go. Needless to say, there is lemon in all variations. As one co-traveller said, "They are drowning in lemons here!"
I prefer to say swimming. So get on that swimsuit and try the homemade granita or the limone dessert. It’s deliziosi!
Lemon heaven on our way to Ravello on foot
More lemons please!
Everywhere you look!
2. The Italian language is so melodic and I could just listen to it all day! I did take a crash course years ago, but I simply need to refresh. We learned a few new words though. Colombo means pigeon and you can say either Grazie Mille or Mille Grazie. Both are correct!
Uno Cappuccino, Due Cappuccini! Uno Colombo!
3. If you love Insalata Caprese, then you REALLY need to go to the original creators of this dish. The hotel Quisisana is in Capri and it was out of this world! Apart from the exquisite service, you were treated like a King & Queen. The salad with buffalo mozzarella was just the ticket on a 30-degree hot day and washed down with a homemade lemon iced tea. The interiors were something else too, and I had to double-check if the orchid was real. It was!
The wonderful 5-Star hotel Quinsisana (the orchid is real!)
The hotel entrance and the infamous Insalata Caprese
Fabulous interior with emperor blue carpeting and marble floors
4. There’s no better way of getting around the coast than by boat. So if you hire one or take the regular ferries, make it a priority to get around on the water. Nothing beats that feeling of the wind in your hair and the sunshine on your nose when you are sailing along that gorgeous coastline. And don’t forget the sunscreen and a beautiful hat!
Hello waves and sushine!
Enjoying the breeze
5. If fish is your thing then I have two wonderful places that we found by chance. The Savo restaurant in the lovely village of Atrani and the Bella Vista Sul Mare within the excellent hotel Bonadies in Ravello. We nearly missed it because we thought it was outside and were guided in by the lovely hotel owner Umberto. The hotel itself is a wonderful old monastery from the 18th Century and the restaurant itself had amazing panorama views over the landscape. We ordered the catch of the day, with the freshest fish and several glasses of crisp rose wine, followed by the famous lemon dessert from the region. We had such a friendly conversation with the owner, who told us about the restaurant and that they had only recently opened. And at reception, we were given the hotels history and its original owner. They were quite concerned about us taking the many steps (in the dark) back to Minori, but rest assured, we got home safe.
The Catch of the Day - Fantastic!
The Bonadies Hotel
The lovely owners of the Savo restaurant in Artani and their excellant cuisine.
6. If you head to Amalfi and are good with steps, then the Orto Paradiso has to be the place for you. It is literally a paradise on the coast and a wonderful base to explore the neighbouring towns. Orto means garden and that’s exactly what it is. A natural and sustainable garden in the middle of the Amalfi hills with an array of fruit and vegetables. A scrumptious breakfast was always included every morning on the terrace, with astounding views and croissants, fresh fruit, lemon juice (of course), homemade citrus jams, cheese and salami. Plus 'due Cappuccini!' On one occasion we were also treated to a lunch of baked courgette blooms, which was heaven on a plate. To wake up to that view every morning was exceptional. The B&B houses six rooms altogether, all with a kitchenette and the pool upstairs is a welcome sight on those hot days.
Lunching on the terrace at Orto Paradiso
7. If you are a colour fan, then you can’t go wrong in Italy. Everywhere you look, there are pops of saturated colour from ceramics, to lighting to fashion and even the food. I had the luxury of having a bag made for me in Positano with my name and in a deep green, which happens to be one of my favourite colours. Just a tip, don’t wait for those little luxuries. Because you never know when they might (or might not) come around again. So get that bag, eat that ice cream and forget those calories!
Saturated Colour, how wonderful!
8. The hospitality of the Italians is something else entirely. They go that extra mile. One example was that Christoph had his eye on a particular beer glass at the cute little bar we always hung out at. He asked if he could purchase it. The owner said they were pretty rare and that he couldn’t let that one go, but he’d see what he could do. Lo and behold, 3 days later he came up to us with a box of 6 brand new glasses that he had found for us especially. And he didn’t even want anything for them.
In our Bar Patrizia
9. Five years is a long time to be away from one of your favourite countries. And as we were back in Capri, Christoph had to visit his favourite Italian barber. It was a teary-eyed moment. Armando looked well, if not somewhat thinner after an illness, but it was good to catch up and get that long-awaited haircut (which he'd specially grown out for the occasion!). We hope it won’t be another five years before we go back. The salon is also in the Carthusia perfume boutique. Which is, if you know anything about scents, one of the most exclusive and delightful perfumeries around. The perfumes are all-natural and my favourite? The Mediterreano of course, which is made up of lemons and green tea.
The lovely Armando
Capri in all its glory, from lemons galore to Carthusia
10. To round things off, a few things we can all incorporate into our homes for that magical Amalfi flair. Colourful ceramic tiles in the kitchen or bathroom. So there's no excuse to not cook or wash with those feel-good vibes. A Murano glass chandelier (not typically Amalfi, but beautiful nonetheless and stunning, for example, in the must-see Villa Ruflo in Ravello). Beautiful linen fabrics for curtains, sheets, or cushions, which are ideal in hot climes. Outside and inside wall colours can be anything from mellow yellows to dusky pinks to fit in with the surroundings. So, not forgetting the greenery, the Italians are very proud of their gardens. We visited the Villa Cimbrone, which had lovely themed gardens. Integrating those greens, yellows, pinks, and whites can look amazing in your home, balcony, or garden. Many Italian varieties do very well in other parts of Europe. If you’d rather not have the real thing, artwork or textiles with garden themes are a great alternative to create that Mediterranean feel.
Ravello Villa Rufolo
Villa Rufolo and Cimbrone
Villa Cimbrone gardens
Viila Rufolo preparing for the classical musical festival
Patterns to the max at the Villa Rufolo
The Murano treasures decorating the ceilings at Villa Rufolo
Details from the Orto Paradiso
An abandoned villa I discovered and fell in love with and a Minori doortrait
Little touches can bring that holiday magic back home with you, long after your return, and give you a lovely reminder of your time away. Maybe it can even extend your holiday until the end of the summer (at least). Now, where did I put those lemon cushions…
The Infinity Balcony at Villa Cimbrone
Perfection at Villa Cimbrone
Ciao Bella Italia ! was first published here on www.graceandholmes.com
All photos: Bianca Demsa & Christoph Kopowski