The Sixty-Forty Honeymoon Interlude ~Praiano, Italy Part 2

To give you a little backstory, this is the place I’ve been dreaming of since Brian, one of my all time favorite hospitality professionals, and his wife Diana came back from their Amalfi honeymoon back in the nineties. He told me Italy stories and it sounded like a perfect European holiday.

I tempered my expectations as we drove through sad, little working villages on the way down the coast from the train station.

 Maybe it wasn’t going to be great, just okay.

But then, we get dropped off in a parking lot, perched on a cliff, on the side of the twistiest road ever (over three thousand curves to be precise),  take an elevator down six floors, and walk through a rock tunnel.

Here’s the view from our room.

I love it here.

It was a series of five villas, connected into one hotel, the Onda Verde – The Green Wave.

We’re perched over the Tyrrhenian Sea, in a bright white room, with a little Juliet balcony, making all my dreams come true.

Sfogliatelle every day. Lots of fresh fruit, toast and ham products.

Also, fruit pastries, for breakfast. These are my people.

I love Italian breakfast.

We took the water taxi to Positano for some fun, lunch, and to see the sites.

The coastline is magical and completely vertical.

I was amazed by the density. Enchanted by the architecture. In awe of the natural beauty.

We walked to the top of the town, dripping with other Americans around our age, doing what we were doing, and it didn’t bother me one bit. Everything about everything was charming and new and delicious.

Lemon slushies, yes, please.

There are cats everywhere. The city pays for twenty of them, covers their  expenses and keeps them healthy. I loved sharing the remains of my meal with them. They liked me, too.

We hung out on the docks for a while, waiting for our boat back to the hotel. This class of local high-schoolers on a camping trip warmed my heart.

Just like old times, Sequoyah!

 

This little secret cove can’t be seen from the hotel, but there are six restaurants tucked in here, and we got to three of them!

I had a simply grilled sea bass under that blue awning cooked by an eighty-five year old lady chef. It was the first of many, and also the most delicious.

We watched brave fishermen in tiny little boats night-fishing for cuttlefish.

It didn’t look very safe, but it’s the way its always been done.

Also, loved this. In all the hotels, the room key had to be inserted into this thing-a-ma-bob for the electric to go on in the room. Likewise, the air conditioning would turn off if the door was open. Very clever Italy, I like it. Good practices.

Our stay at our new favorite hotel, the Onda Verde was short, and oh so very sweet, only two nights.

Then we were off to The Reginna Palace Hotel in  Maiori, to meet up with the food tour crew, and old friends!

We had a light lunch while everyone drizzled in and introduced themselves – an even split between CA & PA people.

 They grilled Provolone (which is aged mozzarella) in between lemon leaves. Don’t eat the leaves! Except the little ones. (lemons are everywhere)

We had a dessert demonstration by the local celebrity in the town square the first night. The locals were thrilled to see him in action.

Lemon Delight is his creation, a nod to the Amalfi lemon!

Johnny and I took a dip in the sea when we arrived a wee bit early, and also did some shopping. I found  some things I like.

We ended the evening as we did the next nine nights, together around the table.

Let the eating begin!! But… there’s so much more.

So many stories about the people.

I’ll tell you about the handmade shoes, next…

Milano & Roma, Italy ~ The Sixty Forty Tour #1

We set our intentions before we left.

Johnny and I were in complete alignment. Good start.

Just us. In a foreign country for a week before my friends arrived for the culinary tour. Except the fact that we stayed with old friends in Milan, who picked us up at the airport and nursed our jet lag for the first  48 hours.

Kind of perfect.

They took us to the top of Lake Maggiore for lunch and then we walked in the  hills to the teeniest, tiniest little village to see if the Rose Gardener might be open.

This is just the beginning of the awe inspiring terracing that is Italy.

Christine, who grew up in Milan, never passed a water feature without getting  in there to wash her hands or have a sip. She said this was clearly the villages old laundry room.

It was all so small. The “streets” couldn’t have been more than eight-feet wide.

I did some window shopping…

I recieved a divine sign! Goats! With bells on! OMG OMG OMG!!

The Rose Gardener wasn’t in, so we carefully made our way down the mountain, to the  Church of Santa Caterina del Sasso, right on the lake.

Stunning.

Look at this old olive press. Sandy and Christine harvest their own olives and have them pressed at a local Grange.  Then they have their own olive oil till next season. I’m a little jealous.

We ended the day with Pizza. My first of many, and yes, you order the whole thing, and then eat it yourself, and leave the leftovers. Talk about culture shock.

Sandy drove us to the train station the next day, we are off to Roma!

These two.

I could do an entire photo collage of them in this position throughout their adult life.

I shall spare you that redundancy, but they are super cute.

The Duomo was my first jaw drop of many.

The train to Rome was short and sweet. I have a perpetual fantasy of Johnny and I playing cards on the train. Despite many train rides, that never happened. I am easily lulled to sleep in any country.

Our Air B & B was perfect. My friend Kathleen, who grew up in Rome, had a two page mandate of things for us to do during our three day stay. She also found us this adorable apartment in Trasteverre. It reminded me of Greenwich Village in NYC. Great restaurants on every corner, late night street singing, (mostly opera)  loose dogs and pizza. PIZZA. Pizza.

This was our broken bottle view. Charming, in a very Italian way.

We did a private tour of the Coliseum and the Forum. I was surprisingly, totally into it. I thought we were doing Rome for Johnny, I wanted to get to the coast, but I  LURVED it. The history, the stories, the people. The passion drips from the lamp posts.

Look at all the angels.

This one looks like she’s with child, yes?

It’s all so rich and historic, the best word for Rome is EPIC! And, we loved the people. It’s such a touristy town and the Romans never wavered in their hospitality.

Except for maybe the grumpy baker lady at Kathleen’s favorite bakery for thin focaccia. (it was very tasty)

We had some great meals. These artichokes were quite the rage in the Jewish Quarter. Kathleen made me eat them. Delicious. Deep fried, crispy & creamy.

On the way back to our little nest, there was an event siting. Do you see the baby grand among the ruins. Just. So. Romantic.

I discovered sfogliatelle. Also known as lobster tails. Filled with sweet ricotta and citron. Sfogliatelle is my breakfast beacon. Bring me these. Everyday.

Kathleen made us go for Gelato at Giolitti. It was an old fashioned gelato parlor slash bakery, Italian style. I could have stayed all day.

 Did you know they put whipped cream on top of gelato in Italy? Yes, please. Just a bit…

One of my favorite things about the Romans. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Then… it becomes tradition and the way things are done, handed down with love and specific instructions for many, many generations.

I imagine, this bread station looked exactly the same over fifty years ago. I also like that the booze isn’t under lock and key. That falls under the categories of trust and respect.

It was hard to leave. Three days wasn’t enough.

Johnny tried to bust the line at the taxi station and received a rash of crap from the locals. I LOLed.

We had a delicious coffee at the train station, because delicious coffee is their thing.

Another one of their things, sustainability.

We could learn so much from the Italians habits, where reduce, reuse and recycle is in everyone’s DNA, and on every street corner.

And we are off to Napoli, where we hitch a ride with Luigi to Praiano, to our new favorite hotel, The Onda Verde. Wait till you see…

In the meantime, one last snap of these two goons.

Old friends are the best friends.