Seeing Sorrento

We are in Sorrento for only one day so we decide to forgo sunbathing, opting for seeing as much of the town as we can.

I came to Sorrento for tre notti in 2013. Although I have some sweet memories from here; the best pizza ever, the red lanterns floating up to the heavens, sitting on the roof top terrazzo of my B&B…at the time, I thought I would not return. And I think I have already mentioned, Danita and I come to the same consensus this time. It is busy and very touristy.

So you are now probably asking yourself, “Then why DID she return?” It was not on my original 2017 agenda, Positano was, and when Danita joined in the fun, I thought it might be a good idea to break up our trek…so, join us for a day in Sorrento.

Just off the palazzo where our room is, there is a newish caffe shop, Puro.

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We make our office here (not in the swings) while I write and Danita follows up on her luggage. It is suppose to arrive this evening…

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After a couple of cappuccinos, we go back to the room and clean up.

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Today, our model is wearing AnotherPaige.

There are several places from my 2013 visit I would like to share…most have to do with food.

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Artis Domus stuck in my head like few others places have. And it is not because of the food here…I think I had a birra. It is because of the building and decor.

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I have fantasized about buying that 2 story rock house on the corner of Austin and Adams, across from Market Platz, and turning it into my version of this. A coffee shop, small bakery and when I felt like it, a bar with aperitivo. I even had a name for it…A A Meeting…you know A like in Austin and A like in Adams…
The funny thing is as we are approaching it, a couple stops us and asks if we have been in there. I tell him I had a few years ago. They are ga-ga over it just as I was and recommend we go by again. Certo.
We make reservations to return for dinner…most likely.

Right now, pranzo is on our minds. We wind our way to another favorite spot,

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You might remember this tunnel (and my hesitancy to enter) from my last visit to Trattoria da Emilia located in Marina Grande.

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We order another Caprese and I can’t be here, right on the water, without getting a specialty of the Casa…Acciughe Fritte…

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Danita was kinda disgusted by them, but I got her to take a tiny little taste. I thought they were molto buono! We left no room for dolce even though there were several in la cucina that looked delizioso…I was tempted to order a Tiramisu because Daddy really wants me to have one for him…luckily the English guy beside us ordered one…AND he let me take a picture before,

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and after,

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Marina Grande is not to be missed if you are visiting Sorrento. It is a small, very authentic fishing village, where people carry on family traditions generation after generation…case in point…

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Leaving Marina Grande we take it in its sights…

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winding our way back to a ceramicist shop we found earlier.

We each choose several one-of-a-kind pieces and have an interesting discussion regarding having them shipped home. We watch as they are carefully bubble wrapped and cannot wait until they reach Fredericksburg..most likely.

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Oh…by the way…I guess I have not updated you on Danita’s luggage…not here yet…So any shopping she is doing is on a MUST NEED basis…

We go over to the lookout point above the sunning piers. The vistas from here are amazing.

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We have encounter from a funny uomo at a men’s shop. He does a little jig to show us how comfortable the moccasins are he designed. We buy each of our sons a pair. They are really great looking. We especially like the “ascot” detail…his idea he reminds us.

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As I am leaning over to take the shot of the shoes, first taking them out of the bag, then out of the box, unwrapping them…finding the right spot along the busy street…I hear an English accent say, “Is there ANYTHING you do not photograph?” I whirl around and it’s Tiramisu from Emilia’s. Laughing, I tell him, “No…not much.” This encounter makes me giggle for a while.

20170702-192553-69953080.jpg. See…I looked at this sign, liked it, walked a few steps, then went back to take a photograph of it. I think Danita needs this for her ufficio.

Around 18:00…we think it is time for a cocktail…and we know just where to find the one we want. Andiamo! To D’Anton.

Last night when we were here, we went on and on to Gabriel and his girlfriend on how wonderful this cocktail was. We asked for the recipe and he gave us everything but the “secret ingredient”…that even he does not know…yeah right…
On my way to the bagno, I tried to scope it out. I saw the bartender pouring something from a small bottle wrapped in paper. During the day today, we would walk into enotecas and look for just that, a small bottle wrapped in paper. No luck. For a while, we thought Tiramisu English man had cracked the code when he mentioned he went to a Limoncello factory and there was melon flavored limoncello there that was a pinkish color. But after further research, that didn’t make sense because it has a milky consistency and the “secret ingredient” didn’t…it just kinda added a pinkish hue to the top of the cocktail. As we left yesterday, we told Gabriel we would be back and he told us he would give us a hint then…Yes, I know…that totally discredits the “I don’t-a even-a know-a” line. Anyway…you know us…and we WILL find out.

Enter D’Anton. Tonight, we are waited on by Francesca, Gabriel’s sorella. Order due Limoncello Cocktails…and they arrive with no pinkish hue. I tell Danita, “There’s no secret ingredient”, she responds flatly, “I know”…I push my chair back, glass in hand and head for the bar. The girl recognizes me from last night and says, “I know-a…I forgot-a…I bring-a to table.” Secret solved!

To make this cocktail at tu casa, you will
Gin, and if you want to go all the way, your gin of choice will be-

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Limoncello, Juice of a Limon, Basil Leaf, Twist of a Limon and….

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Angostura Bitters…a splash of Secret Ingredient.

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Grazie Mille Gabriel e Francesca!

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Best of- Food

Not that this came as a surprise to me, but a major focus of this trip was food.  Many people seem think that just because you are in Italy, amazing food is going to be all around you and all you consume.  Like anywhere, food in Italy varies.  Not every bite you put in your mouth is worth the calories or the euro….so I tried to be selective.  I researched, talked to locals, checked out plates as I passed.  However, some of my best bites were serendipitous..  Grazie mille San Lorenzo!  As I answer my own “Best of Food” questions, I am not looking back at photos for reminders.  These answers are based solely on sweet (and savory) memories!

Best Pizza– Pizzeria Franco, Sorrento

I’ll start with the question I get most, “Where did you have the best pizza?”  Without a doubt it was  in Sorrento.  Even though Sorrento is not on my list of cities to return to, catching a train just to eat at Franco’s is!

Peperoni, salsiccia e formaggi

Peperoni, salsiccia e formaggi

Best Gelato– CCC, Capri Crema Cafe, Anacapri

Capri Crema Cafe

Capri Crema Cafe

I loved the whole vibe here;  a little retro but definitely cutting edge, clean and crisp. Presentation is spot on and taste….molto buono!

Best Pasta Gnocchetti fatto a mano…..le mie mani!!

Gnocchetti Sardi fatti in casa con Ragu alla Bolognese

Gnocchetti Sardi fatti in casa con Ragu alla Bolognese

I am sure the fact that I/we made this in our cooking class and the love and laughs that went into the preparation flavors my perspective…..but this truly was the best pasta I had during my trip. I could have easily made myself sick on it.  But being in the company of “strangers” and needing to save room for all the other dishes we prepared, tempered my portion.

On my first Sunday back home, I prepared this for my family.  It received rave reviews here as well.

Fatto in my Texas Casa

Fatto in my Texas Casa

Best Street Food–  Frito Misto, Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre

Fritto Misto calamari e gamberi

Fritto Misto
calamari e gamberi

This is one of those places I roamed into.  The calamari was the freshest I have ever had.  It is pretty much a given now that I love my food in a paper cone.

Best Ristorante– Al Pozzo, Monterosso   Trattoria Mario, Firenze   Trattoria Katti, Firenze

This category has a three-way tie.  All three are here due to the quality of food but also because of the personal attention/willingness to interact,  and for me, both are key in creating a memorable experience.

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Al Pozzo has previous memories attached to it.  I have enjoyed beautiful evenings seated in the street here my family.  I have a photo of Chef Gino preparing his famed frutti di mare risotto (which I have yet to try).  Both of my children fell in love with gamberetti gnocchi here.                                         Wonderful memories can be a tough thing for a place to live up to as well.  On my first night in Monterosso, when being presented with my gamberetti gnocchi, my heart fell…. the gnocchi failed to sport its tell-tale ridges.  I guess as a time saver, instead of hand rolling each gnoccho on the ridged board, they stopped at the step before, creating a less appealing looking dumpling.  I so wanted to inquire, but I knew my question could only be taken as a complaint (which to be honest….it would have been) and I chose to make new memories instead of trying to relive past ones….that’s growth huh!?

Not to be Missed!

Not to be Missed!

Trattoria Mario is just one of those special places.  Yes it is packed with tourist that have read about it, but it is run by locals that I think are there for the locals….we just happen to be a byproduct of their love of Firenze and its food.

Now Trattoria Katti is all me.  I did not read about it, I did not hear about it, I just roamed into it and I am so glad I did.  As you know, I enjoyed a dinner there twice.  Both times the food was very good, but the dish that put it over the top for me was the Pappa al Pomodoro.  I have since longed for a spoonful often!!  The fact that when I would walk by (countless times…it was on “my street”) and Katti or her mamma would see me and say “Ciao!” didn’t hurt either.

Comfort in a bowl!

Comfort in a bowl!

Best BItes– Fried Calzone, Anacapri     Coccolo, Firenze     Papa al Pomodoro, Firenze       Panino, Firenze

I had a lot of wonderful food during my trip…if I look back through my photos, I am sure I would add more to my list, but again….I am going with my memory and my gut here.

To me, this is what it is all about…that first bite….the moment you put something into your mouth and you are simply sent….the second bite or the second visit may not compare….but it is that first bite that you remember…

When I first bit into the fried calzone in Anacapri, right then, I knew it was the best thing I had eaten in Italy yet….I will admit, when I finally found the bakery the 2nd time, after days of trying to retrace my steps….the 2nd experience did not measure up to the first.  It was still wonderful….but just not the same…

Fried Calzone...need I say more...

Fried Calzone…need I say more…

Coccolo, dusted with salt...

Coccolo, dusted with salt…

OK…there is a trend here….more fried dough.  Hey, I am not proud…IS there anything better!?  I have yet to make these, but I do have a happy hour on the books and am planning to serve Aperol Spritz and these!

I have already shared the photo of Papa al Pomodoro, but it makes the list again….

And last, but certainly NOT least was my amazing panino in Firenze….

All'Antico Vinaio

All’Antico Vinaio

Once again rewarded for roaming on!

You will notice that most of my BEST BITES are from my eats in Firenze…another reason the city is a fav of mine!

Best Sips– A Pie’ de Ma’, Riomaggiore    Caffe Gilli, Firenze

During my previous trip to Italy with my mom and kids, I would look at people just sitting, enjoying a glass of wine or an aperitif, perhaps reading a book….I longed for that experience, that pace.  This trip, I enjoyed many such moments.

a Pie' de Ma

a Pie’ de Ma

I am thankful for the tip to look for a Pie’ de Ma….it isn’t a place you would just stumble on.  Definitely a place to return to.

My first Aperol Spritz...and more coccolo!  Heaven or What!?

My first Aperol Spritz…and more coccolo! Heaven or What!?

During my evening at Gilli, I just kept pinching myself….I was so happy.  Seated outdoors overlooking Piazza della Repubblica…people watching…pretty much heaven for me.

Best New Discovery– Fresh Cherries  and Fresh Anchovies

I know you are probably thinking, “How can cherries be a discovery?”  Well, I am not a fruit person.  As I have gotten older, I have tried to broaden my fruit horizons (remember the fig….).  I tend to be attracted to “pretty things”.  When I was younger, I put a tomato slice on my plate simply because I thought it needed the color.  So with cherries being in season, stacked and piled at every stand…I had to.  And once again…rewarded.  Cherries became my staple snack.  I am sad to say that I bought some here at home…and they did not compare.

It is art!

It is art!

The moral of my italian eating is that fresh is key….my anchovy experiences speak to that as well!

Shrimp, Calamari and ANCHOVY!

Shrimp, Calamari and ANCHOVY!

I know I am leaving something (many things) out…I could probably give everything its own category….my picnic on the beach in Monterosso….so perfect….the limoncello Franco unlocked from his “private collection”….so-a strong-a and-a so-a beautiful-a!….the warm, oily bag of pane in Trastevere…..ALL my CAPRESES!!!…..

As you read, if there is a category you would like me to award…please…let me know…

My plan is one more post from this trip….The Best of…THE REST.

Questo e Quello

First, a correction. I had mentioned yesterday that I would be leaving Sorrento on Sunday…I know my mom has read that and said, “Oh no, there is a problem. I thought Paige spent 3 nights in Sorrento.” So, rest easy…yes I do.
My late afternoon espresso kicked in about the time I laid my head down to go to sleep…that wasn’t happening, but that is when it hit me, I do not leave Sunday, I leave Monday….that gives me another day to enjoy the Amalfi Coast.
As I said, I did not sleep well. Mostly because I was struggling with having to get up and be out the door (down the 85 steps) and to the station by 6:00. On one hand, I wanted to see Amalfi and Positano. Securing a seat on the bus would be most certain at 6:30. On the other hand….I did not want to get up. So when I woke at 5:30 to the sound of thunder, I hopped on the bed and took a look out my skylight.

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20130629-220633.jpg Problem solved! I left the window open until the pitter patter of rain began to fall. Loving the sound of the (Italian) thunder and allowing myself another hour of rest.

20130629-220840.jpg When I started to see blue behind the clouds, I knew it was time to go.

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Bottle of water, crema pastry from Rita’s and a window seat. Andiamo!
The early morning light mixed with the cloud cover and the grimy bus windows did not allow for the best of photos, but suffice it to say, anything you have read or seen about the Amalfi Coast is that and then some.
Driving out of town, you notice garden after garden. Some are haphazard, recognizable only to the planter (much like Franco’s). Some are beautifully organized and tended. Perfectly spaced out, straw or nets galore.

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I know this photo is not quality, but the wooden poles created levels or stories in the trees. Each would have nets that could be unrolled. I am assuming this made harvesting/gathering easier. At one point there was a fig tree, a lemon tree, an orange tree and olive trees, and that was in a small plot in the middle of the road. These farmers know how to utilize their space. Like Sandy said regarding Antonito’s pulley system, necessity is the Mamma of invenzione.

20130629-221852.jpg Meet my seat mate. When she sat down she said, “Sit by you?” Sure….just don’t sit ON me. On turns she would be in my lap!

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I feel like visiting these beautiful towns in a day is disrespectful. Much like those who say they have been to Capri, if only to hop in hop out. However, a major purpose of this trip was for me to discover places that I would want to return to. A place or two that I would want to spend more than a few weeks. Although the Amalfi Coast is stunning, I feel like movement around this area is difficult.
There are some amazing spots though. Check out the Il San Pietro Hotel in Positano (on google). Romantic or what!! Just be sure your guy likes to lay around, walk a bit (up hill) eat, lay around and eat some more.
Here are some sights of Amalfi.

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The Cathedral of Amalfi
Amalfi was one of the four powerful Maritime Republics in the Middle Ages (839-1135 AD). This monumental complex is a testimony to Amalfi’s glorious past. It includes;

20130629-223130.jpg The “Cloister of Paradise”.
This is the ancient cemetery for the noblemen of Amalfi, built between 1266 and 1268.

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20130629-223413.jpg The bell tower (1180-1276) is decorated in the Moorish style with polychrome majolica tiles.
There are also several frescos in small chapels off the Cloister.

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Then you enter The Basilica of the Crucifix.

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The starkness of this space, the shadow cast by the wooden, suspended crucifix, creates a power focus in this diffused light.

20130629-224334.jpg Images of The Holy Spirit are very moving to me.

20130629-224443.jpg Other pieces in this space (which dates back to 596 AD) include this exquisite fresco,

20130629-224542.jpg Relief of Madonna and Child

20130629-224702.jpg This Mitre created in 1297 for Ludovico, son of King Charles II and Bishop of Toulouse. It has a background of over 20,000 pearls!

20130629-224951.jpg 13th Century Chalice

20130629-225033.jpg And these small reliquaries. If you look closely, you see areas in the center that hold physical remains of these holy people.

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The Crypt is the heart of Amalfi because here are preserved “the head and the other bones” of Saint Andrew, Jesus’ first disciple. The bones reached Amalfi on the 8th of May, 1208.
The large bronze statue is by Florentie artist Michelangelo Naccherino (1604). Naccherino was a student of Michelangelo.
In the Cathedral…

20130629-230049.jpg You guessed it, there was a wedding going on. Do you think I am going to hear an organ playing “Here Comes the Bride” and NOT check it out?

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Everywhere you look there are beautiful dedications to Saint Andrew.

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20130629-230319.jpg The Get-Away Car

20130629-230401.jpg Not exactly sure what this is, but I thought if I do not take a photo of it, I’ll see it somewhere down the line and wish I had. I am sure it has been there for years!

20130629-230520.jpg Time for a pick me up…it is still early enough.

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20130629-230625.jpg And of course, the spiaggias!

20130629-230713.jpg ELVIS is in Italy!!

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Time to board a bus again and start back.

20130629-230831.jpg At one stop, a warm welcome!

20130629-230949.jpg I wonder if the band knows?

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When we get back to Sorrento, I am starving. I know Emilia’s will be closing shortly so I must look for a pizzeria Rick Steve’s suggests.
I ask a shopkeeper, “Corso Italia e qui?” Si he tells me, I am on the correct street. I am looking for 265. I tell myself I will go a block or two more. And then I see it.

20130629-231528.jpg Looks like a happening place. Rick says it is a favorite of locals. I have not really had a pizza yet. I have had a couple of street slices but that’s all. Inside it is quite crowded…Rick Steve’s has quite the following.
I look at the menu and decide on the

20130629-231832.jpg Sausage for Dalton and Peppers for Avery.
The pizza arrives

20130629-231951.jpg I take my first bite.

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I cannot tell you how happy I was at that moment. It was amazing!! With every bite I am so excited. I am determined to eat the entire thing…should I inhale, should I take small bites? What method will maximize my intake capacity?
I noticed in the kitchen, there was a tile painted with a saint on it. I ask the wild eyed cook, “che è il santo in cucina?” He is hard to understand but I am pretty sure he tells me Santo Antonio. I wonder if he is the saint of fire? I later learn he is the patron saint of Sorrento. Well, kudos to Santo Antonio and his cooks in la cucina.
I notice a family of four is just receiving their pizzas. I watch them expecting to see the ecstasy after their first bites…but no, they don’t even discuss it. They just sit and simply…eat. If my family were here, we would be going on and on….what is wrong with these people. Talk about undeserving.

20130629-232954.jpg One piece left…

20130629-233218.jpg Perhaps if I put more pepper flakes on it…I hear that burns calories….

20130629-233304.jpg Finito!

20130629-233354.jpg Tavolo cinque, I will remember you fondly!
Before you judge me too harshly, at least I did not order AND eat

20130629-233522.jpg The giant Nutella pizza being made as I left…but I still have one more day!

20130629-233609.jpg Poor photo quality, but I had to give it up for Santo Antonio!

20130629-233646.jpg Perfetto!
Now to walk it off a bit. By the way, I do have 85 steps each time I come to my room…that’s got to help a little don’t ya think?

20130629-235224.jpg That’s my place at the top!
Although I won’t be eating this evening, I think the lighting at Marina Grande should be nice, so I head that way.

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20130629-235356.jpg This seemed to be some sort of test. The wads and wads of fishing net, the young ones with their needles, attempting to mend and the elders just seated and laughing.

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20130629-235510.jpg These two were enjoying their evening chat. One from a Vespa, the other from the window.

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20130629-235624.jpg I decide a limoncello and a few minutes people watching in Piazza Tasso can’t hurt. I made some notes on “Holiday Wardrobes” . We’ll cover that on a “slow news day”.
Later I went up to the rooftop, Piazza Tasso below now.

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And when it got nice and dark, one more surprise to this day,

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Again, this photo does not do the experience justice, but those little lights are the red “Wish Lanterns” being set off from the park where I stood earlier. It was beautiful. I attached my wishes to theirs and watched them vanish into the night sky.
Buonanotte.