Restaurants on the sea side in Amalfi Coast: the Tonnarella

In primo piano

conca dei marini

Restaurants on the sea side  in  Amalfi Coast are a must. There are many between Amalfi and Positano but the favourite for the locals must have some very distinct features: first of all they must be off limits to the tourist crowd and so 300-400 steps to get there is a very good way to guarantee the right isolation, so you need to get there by boat; secondly they must serve excellent food especially fresh fish (“pescato” means today’s freshly-caught fish); last but not least they must be completely dress-down informal. Overcrowded during the day, in the evening they become the perfect place for relaxing or for having a romantic dinner right by the sea.

tonnarella 4The best one over the years for the Amalfi local residents is ‘La Tonnarella‘ in Conca dei Marini. It has been there for over 40 years and takes its name from the tuna fishing net, the bay was famous for keeping the privacy of Jackie Kennedy, Princess Margaret plus D’Urso, Chandon and Princess Caroline of Monaco during the 1970s. We would take a private boat from Amalfi under the cover of darkness carrying guitars , beach towels and swimming costumes .

tonnarella2When we arrived at the lovely pebble beach we would call out load to the owner always the same expression: Franco, please, pasta e zucchini (courgettes) and ‘pescato’ half fried and half barbecue while we have a swim, please call us when its ready.

Luckily the restaurant is still managed by the same family even now. Franco is still there waiting for us (and for you!!) looking a little older but with the same wish to laugh!!

tonnarella

If you want to live a true italian experience without stress nor unwanted surprise, please contact me at dcarrano@aurora-hotel.it or visit our web site

Food in Amalfi Coast: Mozzarella tasting

In primo piano

Ravello is one of the most popular sites to visit on the Amalfi Coast. Up the hill just 6 km above Amalfi, Ravello is famous for two stunning villas: Villa Cimbrone and Villa Rufolo, the latter’s wonderful location for Wagner’s concert each July. Therefore Ravello is well worth a visit, but why not combine culture with a taste of traditional food? ricottaWithin a few metres from the main square Piazza Vescovado there is Staiano Dairy where you can find the best handmade mozzarella that you ever tasted. The Dairy and the shop are located inside a church dating back to the six hundreds and the ritual of handmade cheese making by the Staiano family has lasted for over two hundred years. Biagio and his mother Maddalena have preserved the old methods to produce mozzarella, fresh ricotta and butter even now. But the eclectic Biagio also added to cheese the flavours of his beloved Amalfi Coast: lemon leaves and zests, drops of pears and local apple jam that made the final production unique: the small ricottas and the cherry mozzarellas are a pleasure for the eyes as well as for  the mouth.cheese But there is more; thanks to his genuine friendliness he will teach, upon request, how to make your own mozzarella. He shows the full working procedure, how to tie and to cut by hand….there is no guarantee of the flavour of your cheese , but what fun!

biagioIf you want to live a true italian experience without stress nor unwanted surprise, please contact me at dcarrano@aurora-hotel.it or visit our web site

Amalfi Coast roses

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Amalfi is not only the area where lemons and tomatoes grow precariously from the rocks. At Piana del Sele, slightly off the traditional touristic route behind the Amalfi Coast line, there is still a cultivation of fresh roses. At the foot of Vesuvio where the rich soil contrasts with the lunar landscape of the top of volcano, the rose gardens run by the Testa family make your heart miss a beat.

rosa3Thanks to the father and especially to the grandfather, the Testa family today produces roses from all over the world and in particular from France and Great Britain: the ‘Lovely Red’ and the ‘Yves Piaget’ with the single aim to celebrate the beauty of life.

rosa2Many brides have chosen these roses for their special day because the future needs love and beauty. The lost world of romanticism and the Dolce Vita are back, thanks to our Testa heroes. If you want to see some flowers arrangement made by these unforgettable roses please visit the web site www.ugopellecchia.it

Wine bar in Ravello: Palazzo della Marra

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Finally a welcome and expert “newcomer” Gino has arrived to manage the wonderful Palazzo della Marra Wine Bar in Ravello! This returns this most famous hangout to locals and visitors.

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Located at the entrance of the beautiful town, the Palace was built for an aristocratic family between the XI and XII century and has survived for many years despite some foolish restoration works, to still give us an idea of his magnificence.

DSCN1047-001 We can enjoy the best of local and Italian wines and sample home made traditional food in a very friendly and professional ambience.

Every Monday and Thursday they hold a wine and food tasting session with a real sommelier from 6 to 8 pm.  Well worth a visit.

If you want to live a true italian experience without stress nor unwanted surprise, please contact me at dcarrano@aurora-hotel.it or visit our web site

Amalfi recipes: strawberry tart

strawberries

April and May are the months of strawberries in the Amalfi area and they are small, delicious and very romantic! They are also very attractive as they resemble small hearts.

William Shakespeare was pleasantly fascinated by them and called strawberries ‘the food of fairies’. In the Amalfi Coast thanks to the very mild climate they mature a bit earlier, at the beginning of spring.

strawberries

People here still maintain the old habit of eating seasonal fruit and veg according to nature, they know that fruit does not grow on the supermarket’s shelves and out of season the fruit has little flavour. So now is the right time to sample a traditional strawberry tart.

 

The recipe is very easy but there is one small secret: you cook the pastry in the oven just with custard and you must cover the tart with aluminum foil when half-baked. Dress the strawberries with lemon juice and sugar, put them onto the tart when cool and then leave overnight. The syrup then comes in smooth layers releasing pink colour and flavour.

 

The clients of the Aurora Hotel have the opportunity to taste it for breakfast on a sunny and bright Sunday morning. We hope they will keep sweet memories of us!

strawberries

 

Amalfi Musical Opera

Amalfi Musical

If you have a chance to visit Amalfi during the week end do not miss Amalfi Musical Opera on Saturday evening in the Shipyard Museum. Location used to build war galleys ,is stunning: cross vaults and 20 pillars recall the Islamic architecture. The musical told the story of Amalfi during the cruel supremacy of Longobards until it was liberated by some brave citizens who defeated dictatorship and established a long period of peace.

musical-001 Music and actors are superb and foreigners can follow the story on the screen with English subtitles. What it certainly strikes you is that there isn’t a stage, actors perform among the public involving people sometimes.

musical2-001 Full contact fighting, the desperate love’s songs of leading actors, the moving set and the rhythm really take you back in the year 829 a. C for a while. Do not lose the opportunity to soak in the history of Amalfi, it’s truly amazing.

If you want to live a true italian experience without stress nor unwanted surprise, please contact me at dcarrano@aurora-hotel.it or visit our web site

Amalfi Ceramics

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When you stroll along the narrow shopping streets in the centre of Amalfi you can easily spot the colourful ceramics which almost invite you to admire and touch them. The art of hand-worked ceramics with their stunning colours is typical of the Amalfi Coast nowadays. If you go deeper into the matter you should visit the Museum of Ceramic located inside ,Villa Guariglia in Raito a small village up towards Vietri sul Mare.

DSCN0918That was the Italian Ambassador’s mansion donated to residents to promote the knowledge and tradition of ceramics in 1970. The collection includes the pottery of the most important ceramic centre in Campania. The fine production started thanks to the religious influence in the daily life: fonts and votive tiles as a symbol of the protection of the houses.

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The ‘albarelli’ containers used to preserve herbs and spices used only in the monasteries and hospitals. Then in the table decorations like jars dishes and bowls, special attention must be given to the ‘ogliaruli’ containers for oil which had two small holes near the spout, like eyes…. a way to chase away bad luck, because spilling olive oil was considered to be a symbol of misfortune! Ceramic is still all around the Amalfi Coast residents: the yellow and green tiles called ‘riggiole’ dress up the church bell towers and many foreign artists (most of them from Germany) escaping from persecution, left excellent works which have inspired local artists.DSCN0910

You can find this art everywhere on the colorful floors, in the walls along the road, on the main doors, on the garden seats, so much that Amalfi and villages of Coast are like an open air ceramic museum.

If you want to live a true italian experience without stress nor unwanted surprise, please contact me at dcarrano@aurora-hotel.it or visit our web site

Wine tasting in the Amalfi Coast: San Francesco Winery

DSCN0960-001Whatever time of year you visit Amalfi it always seems to be sunny, thanks to the white houses hanging by rocks and to the hustle and bustle of the city centre, but the weather seemed like late autumn during the bank holidays in the first of May. Despite the heavy rain we did not give up our visit to the San Francesco winery in Tramonti, a cosy village up in the hills 12 km from Amalfi. DSCN0965-001When we arrived the surreal atmosphere of the damp and misty countryside took us into another world for a while. The vineyard was stunning with secular pre-philloxera grapevines and the organic method of production stand out straight away.DSCN0966-001 We joined the same respectful project of sustainable viticulture before sharing the joy of tasting wines and flavours of ‘cucina povera’ . The founding families Bove, D’avino and Giordano introduced us into this wonderful world with proficiency and friendliness typical of rural life.

Some wines were for expert palates, but anyone who likes the ‘bien vivre’ can have an unforgettable experience.DSCN0975-001

We all become friends when we have chance of sharing some food at home with Italians.

If you want to live a true italian experience without stress nor unwanted surprise, please contact me at dcarrano@aurora-hotel.it or visit our web site

Mont Vesuvio

Vesuvio  is not only included in the Unesco World Mab Biosfere Reserve but it is  the real symbol of Naples and inhabitants. They affectionately call him ‘The mountain’ but they always have a special consideration  for one of the most dangerous volcanos in the world.  Vesuvio has frightened  collective imagination since the dawn of time. Considered the ‘Netherworld’ by Greeks and Romans the eruptions were thought of as the fury of Gods.

Loads of folk stories  from the fervent imagination of Neapolitan people have always filled tourist guide books: Vesuvio fallen in love with the wonderful Capri (that is just a short ferry ride away) released warm breaths and fire-hot tears; it was considered the Mount of Devils because a monk claimed the help of magic powers for getting an ‘unmentionable desire’ was swallowed by him.

The only heaven’s saint, San Gennaro, the Preserver and Guardian of Neapolitans, was able to fight against Evil: in fact  a fresco of V century, discovered in the catacombs of S. Gennaro, shows the Patron of Naples close to Vesuvio. But the weird behaviour of Neapolitans got over the drama: in the 1952 when the smoke plume on the top of Vesuvio disappeared as well as tips of tourists ,they invoked the Saint to get the smoke back……. saving people once again!

Whatever happens Vesuvio well worth a visit,  you can enjoy from the top a spectacular view of Naples bay with Sorrento peninsula, the island of Capri until Ischia and Procida. Local travel agencies in Amalfi arrange once a week full-day trip to Pompei and Vesuvio from April to October to admire the beauty of landscape.

If you want to live a true italian experience without stress nor unwanted surprise, please contact me at dcarrano@aurora-hotel.it or visit our web site


 

 

Wheat is life

One of the most typical of the many Amalfi Coast traditions during the Easter week was to bring the wheat to the church on the evening on Good Thursday. This day was called ‘sacred sepulture’ and the grains of wheat had a lot of symbolic meaning for the Catholics. When harvested during the first week of Spring, the wheat was completely white and thus compared to the pale face of Christ marked by sorrow and fatigue, and then it was stored in a dark corner with no lights just as Christ in his tomb.

semi di grano

The metaphor of wheat is clearly visible: it seems to be dead but it is ready to come into a new life. And what happens when the white wheat brought by the women to the Church becomes green in just two days of light, it blooms the same day of Resurrection. Wheat is a promise to get over death, it represents the hard job rewarded by bread.

Many customs of the local people have disappeared and personally I do not remember this tradition, but stories told by the elderly residents keep their special appeal still today. I decided not to waste this heritage of the past , so this year I will put a plate full of wheat to represent waiting for a new start.

Happy Easter to all of you!

If you want to live a true italian experience without stress nor unwanted surprise, please contact me at dcarrano@aurora-hotel.it or visit our web site

 

The ‘Glory’ in Amalfi Coast

During the Italian Holy Week there are many unique traditions shared amongst the villages of the Amalfi Coast. Some of the traditions are somewhat macabre, showing the crucifixion of Christ in the solemn processions on Good Friday. The Catholic Church considers the Holy week to be a time of total abstinence from the joys of life: candles and lights are switched off, altars are bared and undressed so are without flowers and decoration and sacred stoles. Just penitence, prayers and giving handouts. What a shame for the joyful Neapolitan people who by their nature always try to convert sadness to happiness! But Easter means that the spring is just around the corner, winter is over and the locals make merry.

Preparation for the Easter weekend starts on Good Saturday and traditional food takes centre stage. Kitchens turn into a hub of food preparation for the first true dinner after the long Lent period: first of all women put on the table the fellata, a selection of Neapolitan salamis such as capicollo, soppressata and salami and then the casatiello which a special bread made with lard, black pepper and cheese with eggs on the top, then fresh cheese ricotta with 

broad beans which announces the spring and in the end the pastiera made with wheat, eggs, sugar, citrus candy perfumed with orange flower water. The smells and the fragrance of the food are detected by the adults and they must retain the control and try to keep the children away from the table because nobody can eat before “the Glory” when the bells of the main church ring for a long time to announce the Resurrection. Even though the locals are deeply involved in their religious traditions, Amalfi during the Easter weekend offers a vibrant image of the Italian life style.

If you want to live a true italian experience without stress nor unwanted surprise, please contact me at dcarrano@aurora-hotel.it or visit our web site

 

 

Street food in Naples

If you are willing to visit Naples you cannot miss the intriguing and fascinating old centre called Spaccanapoli. This street is of Greek origin, it is very long and seems to cut the city in half. Nothing could better express the culture and tradition of Neapolitan people as well as their life style as Spaccanapoli.

Couples walk arm in arm, mums with trolleys go shopping, elderly women chase for a bargain, boys on Vespas zip through. People shout and wave all around while tourists visit the most stunning monuments of Naples: San Severo Chapel with the amazing sculpture of the veiled Christ, the Cloister of Santa Chiara with painted, colourful columns, the Duomo , the Cathedral of Naples consecrated to San Gennaro and San Gregorio Armeno where the tradition for crafting nativity figures survives all year round.

This general excitement makes you hungry very quicly andthe best way to sample the flavour of Naples is through the street food‘. Kiosks and stands are everywhere along Spaccanapoli and vendors propose the famous ‘Cuoppo’ a paper cone containing fired-up delights: rice balls, (crocche’) potatoes balls, chopped courgette and eggplants, small pizzas, cherry mozzarella, pumpkin flowers, corn mush slices and some stands sell ‘taralli cavere’ that are hot, round, salty biscuits with lard, black pepper and almonds paired with a strong glass of red local wine.


Street food is much more popular in Naples than in other Italian cities and in the past represented an important source of income for many poor families. It is simply very good food nowadays and the quality of the fresh ingredients is very high. So do not hesitate to pamper yourself, do not miss this exciting food experience when in Naples.

If you want to live a true italian experience without stress nor unwanted surprise, please contact me at dcarrano@aurora-hotel.it or visit our web site

Carnival in Amalfi Coast

carnival 

In a Catholic country like Italy, the last non-religious rite survived over the centuries is Carnival. Carnival attracts people from all over the world with masquerades, parades and feasts that take place across several cities.

Today the Carnival theme is a dramatisation of daily life, but in the past it was the only day of year when the poor played the role of the rich people in agreement with the legal-powers of the Church. Neapolitans, out of the government’s control as usual, have been able to combine sacred and profane also in the food making fools of the upper class in this unusual day. The “sanguinaccio” is a custard made from the blood of pork mixed with milk, dark chocolate, nuts, candied citron and cinammon and was a very special dessert. What kind of people ate the blood of pork? The vampires? I had the good fortune to taste sanguinaccio and I lived!!!!!
My English companion told me there was a similar dessert called ‘black pudding‘ typical of northern England. Unfortunately many sweets and pastries are disappeared over recent years due to the very strict modern hygiene rules, but if you have an extremely rare chance to taste a true sanguinaccio don’t be scared and enjoy this wonderful experience.

If you want to live a true italian experience without stress nor unwanted surprise, please contact me at dcarrano@aurora-hotel.it or visit our web site


A Day amongst the pasta

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Intrigued by the fame of Gragnano, known as the ‘city of pasta‘, I decided to see one of the most fascinating Italian rituals. Thanks to my close friends I discovered an extraordinary reality in a very friendly atmosphere: the Gentile Pasta Factory.

 

The Zampino family runs the factory keeping the traditional methods of production. They use the best quality of Italian wheat and a natural drying method called Cirillo. The pasta is dried at low temperature using a combined heater and fan to release thickness and flavour. In the past, pasta took about 10 days to dry outside, in the cells now only 4 days but  just 4 hours in the huge food industry.

One of the most famous varieties of pasta is ‘fusilli’. They look like long curls apparently regular but they are not. Women roll up every single noodle with a knitting needle under their forearms, giving the pasta a helical form and their work is fundamental in the pasta factory: they pack every single kilo, cut by hand the long varieties and they constantly check the production.

Following the best Italian habit, the day cannot finish without eating pasta, so we went to La Galleria Restaurant just a few minutes walk from the to pasta factory. I was impressed with the quality of food and wine pairing. The head chef Giulio prepared a sensational gourmet tasting with a selection of pasta and seasonal ingredients. All heaven’s angels sung and came down drinking the Pompeii rose’ wine with us! An excellent excuse for a return visit!

 If you want to live a true italian experience without stress nor unwanted surprise, please contact me at dcarrano@aurora-hotel.it or visit our web site


 

 

 

 

 

Festival of St. Andrew in Amalfi

Festival of St Andrew Procession Amalfi

The grand religious procession for the festival of St. Andrew in Amalfi

Two of the most impressive moments of the year in Amalfi are dedicated to Sant’ Andrea, or Saint Andrew, who is the town’s patron saint. On June 27th and November 30th each year Amalfi celebrates St. Andrew with special masses in the Cathedral of Amalfi and an impressive and beautiful religious procession through the streets of town culminating in a dramatic run of the statue up the grand staircase of the cathedral.

While the religious festival in June is the grandest event of the summer, the festival of St. Andrew at the end of November offers visitors a more intimate glimpse of Amalfi’s most important religious festival. As Christmas is just around the corner, the town is often decorated with beautiful holiday lights and decorations just in time for the festival.

After a special mass in the morning, the procession begins from the Cathedral and follows through the streets of Amalfi, along the waterfront and back into the Piazza Duomo in the center of town.

After the procession reaches all the different parts of Amalfi where they can carry the statue (and even some where you think it would be too hard to reach!), the procession stops at the base of the grand staircase leading up to the Cathedral. After a rest and organization and a big breath … up it goes! The statue is run up the staircase in a dramatic corso that has to be seen to be believed.

The festival of St. Andrew is a wonderful chance to experience a unique side of Amalfi where the residents have a very strong and deep religious connection to the saint. After the procession you can see the statue up close inside the Cathedral.

Festival of St Andrew in Amalfi Statue in Cathedral

A close up view of the beautiful statue of St. Andrew inside the Cathedral of Amalfi

If you want to live a true italian experience without stress nor unwanted surprise, please contact me at dcarrano@aurora-hotel.it or visit our web site

 

Amalfi Coast Recipes – Limoncello

Limoncello Amalfi Coast Recipe

Enjoy a taste of the Amalfi Coast at home with your own limoncello!

The perfect lunch or dinner on the Amalfi Coast is often finished off with a small glass of limoncello, a lemon infused liqueur, which many families make at home. Made with the famous Amalfi Coast lemons, the brilliant yellow color and intense refreshing taste make it a popular digestivo, or after dinner drink. It’s simple to make your own limoncello at home to remember the sweet flavors of the Amalfi Coast no matter where you are!

Ingredients
8-10 organic lemons
1 quart of pure alcohol
5 cups sugar
3 cups water

Directions
1. Wash lemons and peel the zest from the lemons in long strips. Be careful not to peel away the bitter white pith – only the bright yellow zest! If your strips of zest have white pith, use a sharp knife to cut them away. Since the lemon peels are infused in the alcohol to create this drink, we recommend using organic lemons. Or grow your own!

2. Place the lemon zest strips into a large glass jar and add the alcohol. Give it a good stir and then cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let the jar sit in a cool place out of the sun at least over night or up to a week. Some family recipes call for infusing the alcohol for 20 days … or even up to 40 days! You’ll see the alcohol turning a brilliant yellow as it is infused with the lemon flavor.

3. After letting the infusion sit for awhile, boil the water in a pot and stir in the sugar until well blended being careful not to bring it to a boil. Cover the pot and let it sit overnight to cool completely.

4. Mix the sugar syrup and lemon infused alcohol together either in the large jar or pot. Stir well and strain out lemon peels while pouring into clean bottles.

5. If using pure alcohol you can store your finished limoncello in the freezer like we do on the Amalfi Coast. Then it will always be chilled and ready for you to enjoy after lunch or dinner!

If you want to live a true italian experience without stress nor unwanted surprise, please contact me at dcarrano@aurora-hotel.it or visit our web site

(Photo Credits: ewanr)

The Cathedral of St. Andrew in Amalfi

Amalfi Sightseeing Cathedral of St. Andrew

Climb the grand staircase to visit the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Amalfi

When you step into the busy Piazza Duomo in the heart of Amalfi, it’s hard not to look straight up to the stunning Cathedral of Sant’ Andrea, or St. Andrew, which sits overlooking the square from atop a grand staircase. As you climb the steps you can take a closer look at the 19th-century facade with its Byzantine revival design, colorful patterns and beautiful mosaics designed by Neapolitan artist Domenico Morelli. Gaze up at the soaring bell tower, which was built from 1180-1276 and features ornate Moorish inspired designs and majolica tiles. As you walk through the Cathedral of St. Andrew, usually called the Duomo, you’ll discover thousands of years of history as you make your way through the religious heart of Amalfi.

Mass in the Duomo of Amalfi

Attend a mass at the Duomo of Amalfi or simple admire the gorgeous Baroque interior

The sumptuous interior of the Cathedral is Baroque and dates from a restoration in the early 18th century. This is only fitting for a church that is home to the relics of St. Andrew the Apostle, which were brought to Amalfi on May 8th, 1208 by Pietro Capuano, the Papal Envoy to the Fourth Crusade. For over 800 years St. Andrew has been the patron saint and protector of the town of Amalfi – from its days as the powerful maritime Republic of Amalfi to a small fishing village to one of the most popular holiday spots in Italy.

Cloister of Paradise Duomo of Amalfi

Stroll around the peaceful Cloister of Paradise

Visitors today can also see the serene Cloister of Paradise, which was built as a cemetery for the nobles of Amalfi from 1266-1268. As you walk around the cloister and the pretty central garden, you can see ancient and medieval works of art. On the northern side of the cloister look for the arch that perfectly frames the bell tower for a great photo!

Museum Duomo of Amalfi

Explore the history of Amalfi in the Cathedral’s Museum

The Cloister of Paradise leads into the oldest part of the church, which is called the Basilica of the Crucifix. This church dates back to 596 and has been transformed into a Museum to house rare works of art and historical pieces. Here you’ll find the precious Angevin Mitre, a gorgeous piece from the 13th century that is decorated with gemstones, gold leaf and about 20,000 pearls. There are many other beautiful chalices, reliquaries and important religious works on display.

Crypt of St Andrew Amalfi Cathedral

Visit the religious heart of Amalfi

From the Museum you can follow the steps down into the lavishly decorated crypt of St. Andrew below the church. The beautiful Baroque decorations and the ornate ceiling frescoes date from the 17th century and have been very well preserved. Take a moment to feel the history of Amalfi, thousands and thousands of years, before climbing the steps to reach the nave. Once back out on the steps of the Cathedral you may just look at the town below with different eyes.

If you want to live a true italian experience without stress nor unwanted surprise, please contact me at dcarrano@aurora-hotel.it or visit our web site

Top Things to See and Do in Ravello

Ravello Sightseeing Amalfi Coast Panorama

Ravello is easy to visit during your stay in Amalfi

Amalfi is a wonderfully central location for your holiday on the Amalfi Coast. Not only is there so much history and charm to discover right in Amalfi, but there’s also easy access to beautiful hikes on the Amalfi Coast, simply stunning beaches and the other villages on the Amalfi Coast. Located high in the mountains above Amalfi, the village of Ravello is a popular spot. If you’re staying at the Hotel Aurora, it’s easy to take the bus to explore Ravello in one day. Here are some of the top things to see and do in Ravello!

Ravello Sightseeing Duomo San Pantaleone

Enjoy a break in Ravello’s charming piazza

Once you arrive in Ravello, walk to the main piazza where you will find the beautiful Duomo of Ravello overlooking the pretty square surrounded by bars with outdoor seating. The Duomo is dedicated to San Pantaleone and the village’s main celebration of the year is for the festival day for this saint on July 27th. The church is very often open so you can simply walk in to find a moment of calm in the peaceful setting. Along the central nave look for the large ambone from the 13th century decorated with elaborate mosaic work and ornate spiral columns resting on the backs of lions. Opposite is the smaller but much older ambone from the 11th-12th centuries featuring a mosaic representation of Jonah and the Whale. For more history, visit the the Museo del Duomo below the church.

Back out in the piazza, turn left from the church entrance and look for a tower. This is the entrance to the Villa Rufolo, a historic villa from the 13th century that was once the home of the Rufolo family. Today you can visit the grounds, explore the gardens and enjoy the marvelous views.

Ravello Sightseeing Villa Rufolo Panorama

Panoramic views of the Amalfi Coast from the Villa Rufolo

And what views they are! You’ll enjoy a gorgeous view of the Amalfi Coast with the villages of Minori and Maiori and across the Bay of Salerno. During the summer months many concerts and events take place against the backdrop of the Villa Rufolo during the Ravello Festival.

After strolling through the Villa Rufolo, enjoy exploring the charming streets of Ravello lined with tempting shops. Many display local ceramics, which are one of the traditional crafts of the Amalfi Coast.

Shopping in Ravello Italy Amalfi Coast

Beautiful ceramics on display in Ravello

Follow the signs pointing to the Villa Cimbrone located at the very tip of the promontory where Ravello is located overlooking the sea. The expansive gardens at the Villa Cimbrone date back to the 11th century, although much of the design of the gardens today dates from when the villa was owned by Ernest William Beckett, Second Lord Grimthorpe, who bought the massive estate in 1904. The romantic gardens lead to the Terrace of Infinity, a large terrace with dramatic views overlooking the the Amalfi Coast.

Ravello Sightseeing Villa Cimbrone

Walk out to the Terrace of Infinity at the Villa Cimbrone

Strolling through beautiful gardens, discovering the quiet walkways through the village, tempting shops and marvelous views all come together to create a fun and memorable day in Ravello!

If you want to live a true italian experience without stress nor unwanted surprise, please contact me at dcarrano@aurora-hotel.it or visit our web site

Amalfi Coast Recipes – Spaghetti alle Vongole

Spaghetti with Clams Amalfi Coast Recipe

Enjoy one of the classic dishes of Amalfi at home!

The Amalfi Coast is famous for its seafood dishes made with freshly caught fish from the Mediterranean Sea. One of the most popular recipes, in both restaurants and homes, is Spaghetti alle Vongole, or Spaghetti with Clams. This recipe captures the flavors of the Amalfi Coast and is remarkably easy to prepare at home. Find the freshest clams that you can and enjoy a taste of Italy tonight!

Ingredients
Serves 3-4

Extra-virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, cut in half
3 1/2 pounds clams, cleaned thoroughly
Fresh parsley, chopped
12 ounces spaghetti, preferably thick, or linguine

Directions

1. Combine about 5 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil and the garlic in a large saute pan or big pot. Cook over low heat until the scent of the garlic is infused into the oil but the garlic doesn’t brown.

2. Increase the heat to medium high and immediately add the clams and cover the pan. Shake the pan to move the clams around in the oil and cook until the bivalves of the clams open, usually about 2-4 minutes depending on the size of the clams.

3. Remove the clams from the pan and cover to keep warm. Cook the pasta until it’s just a little more than al dente in salted water and drain. Finish cooking the pasta in the sauce from the clams and it will absorb the flavors as it finishes cooking.

4. Add the clams and parsley to the pan, mix well and serve right away!

Buon appetito!

If you want to live a true italian experience without stress nor unwanted surprise, please contact me at dcarrano@aurora-hotel.it or visit our web site

 

Photo Credits: Nate Gray

Amalfi Coast Hiking – The Torre dello Ziro

Amalfi Coast Hiking Experiences

The Torre dello Ziro watchtower in the mountains above Amalfi is full of mystery

Sitting atop the mountains high above Amalfi, the Torre dello Ziro watchtower has been watching over the town since the 15th century. Just imagine all of the history, stories and events it has seen! We’re often asked by guests at the Hotel Aurora more about the Torre dello Ziro and its history. Here’s a brief look! The tower was built as part of a larger fortress in a strategic look out point above the town by Duke Antonio Piccolomini in 1480. Throughout history the watchtower has been filled with mystery, especially involving the tragic love story of Giovanna d’Aragon, the Duchess of Amalfi. Her sad tale has inspired many writers, including John Webster’s book The Duchess of Malfi.

You can walk back through the history of Amalfi by hiking to the Torre dello Ziro during your holiday in Amalfi. The tower cannot be reached from Amalfi, but instead this hike starts from the hamlet of Pontone in Scala.

Hiking on the Amalfi Coast from Pontone

Start the hike to the watchtower from the hamlet of Pontone

Once you leave peaceful little Pontone, the trail to the Torre dello Ziro leads along the side of the mountains overlooking the valley down to Atrani and Ravello on the opposite side. While there are some stairs and ups and downs, the hiking path from Pontone to the Torre dello Ziro is not very tough, which makes it a fun hike to do with younger children. They will be fascinated by the ruins of the watchtower and the remains of the historic crenelated walls!

Amalfi Coast Hiking with Children

The Torre dello Ziro is a fun hike to do with kids!

Once you arrive at the tower you will find incredible views of Ravello, the Amalfi coastline and the Bay of Salerno. It’s a marvelous spot for a picnic and rest while taking in the views.

Amalfi Coast Hiking Trails

A rewarding view of the Amalfi coastline from the Torre dello Ziro

Take a look down the mountainside to Atrani where you can see the bell tower and majolica tiled dome of the Collegiata di Santa Maria Maddalena and the Amalfi Coast Road hugging the curve around the base of the church.

Best Hiking on the Amalfi Coast

Peeking down the mountainside to Atrani

Look down on the other side of the mountain and you’ll find a bird’s eye view of Amafli – simply stunning! Watch the ferries come and go in the harbor, listen to the sounds of the town from high above and see the Duomo of Amalfi from above. Can you spot where the Hotel Aurora is located?

Stunning view of Amalfi from Torre dello Ziro

Stunning view of Amalfi from the Torre dello Ziro watchtower

After exploring the hiking paths around the Torre dello Ziro and enjoying the views, retrace your steps back to Pontone where you can enjoy the hike from Scala to Amalfi or catch a bus back down to Amalfi. When you look up at the Torre dello Ziro from Amalfi, it won’t look quite the same again!

If you want to live a true italian experience without stress nor unwanted surprise, please contact me at dcarrano@aurora-hotel.it or visit our web site