The Blue Grotto in Capri

The Blue Grotto in Capri

The Blue Grotto in Capri

The Blue Grotto of Capri is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Italy.

 

The wonderful island of Capri is located right in front of the tip of the Sorrento peninsula, at a short distance from Naples and the towns of the Amalfi coast.
This whole area offers a breathtaking scenery, charming towns, a lively atmosphere and great food.

For all these reason I consider it the ideal place for those looking for spending an unforgettable holiday in Italy.

 

Let’s discover Capri and what’s worth a visit.

 

Capri

Capri

Capri can be easily reached by ferry. The trips takes about a hour and all the ferries dock at Marina Grande.

From here you can take the funicular and reach Capri Town.
The main attraction of the town is definitely its famous Piazzetta, a tiny square covered with bar tables, crowded with tourists and residents who stop for a coffee.

 

From Capri Town you can go to Anacapri.
This town is still touristy, but more authentic. It is close to Monte Solaro, the island’s highest peak. You can easily reach the top of the mount by a lift chair and once there you will enjoy some gorgeous views on Capri, the sea, the coastline.
One attraction I suggest you to visit in Anacapri is the church of San Michele. It may not seem so special from outside, but once inside the handpainted majolica tiled floor depicting Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden will blow you away.

If you love gardens in Capri there are 2 places that you should visit. One is the garden of Villa San Michele, considered one of the top 10 most beautiful gardens in Italy. The other is the Gardens of Augustus, from where you can enjoy a wonderful view of the Faraglioni and the incredible zigzag road Via Krupp.

 

The Blue Grotto

The Blue Grotto is a natural cavity hidden behind a low entryway.

To get into the Grotto you have to lie on the bottom of one of the many small rowing boats allowed to go inside. The boatman will drag the boat into the cave by clinging to a chain attached to the rock. It is a fun experience!

 

Once inside, the atmosphere completely changes.

You are suddenly surrounded by the darkness, but the water beneath you shines with a color that seems artificial.

Many people who see photos of the Blue Grotto of Capri on the internet think they are retouched, but the water is really fluorescent blue!

 

This unique phenomenon is caused by the sunlight entering through an underwater window just below the grotto entryway. The light is thus filtered by the water, which absorbs the red radiation and reflects only the blue one. The unique light is accentuated by the many small air bubbles that adhere to the surface of the immersed objects, giving them silvery reflections.

 

And now some useful infos about the Blue Grotto of Capri.

 

Those who want to visit it have to pay a fee.
As you can immagine, many are the tourists who want to see this magic place, so in high season the boats line up to enter.
Usually boatmen ask for a tip, but it is not mandatory.

 

From November to the end of March the Blue Grotto is generally closed due to the wind and the rough sea. In summer, the best time to visit it is between noon and 2 pm.
On cloudy days the absence of the sun light makes the effect inside the grotto less intense.

 

The Faraglioni Rocks

The Faraglioni Rocks

Together with the Blue Grotto, the Faraglioni rocks are the symbol of Capri.
They are 3 100 meters high rocky peaks that rise from the sea a few meters from the coast of the island.

Each Faraglione has its name.
The one close to the land is called Stella; the one with the rocky arch is called Faraglione di Mezzo, the middle Faraglione; the third one is Faraglione di Fuori, the outside Faraglione, also known as Scopolo.

They create a unique and suggestive panorama, especially at the sunset. I’m sure you’ll take great Instagram-perfect photos!

 

 

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The Great Carnival of Maiori, Amalfi Coast

The Great Carnival of Maiori, Amalfi Coast

The Great Carnival of Maiori, Amalfi Coast

The Great Carnival of Maiori is one of the most exciting celebrations of Carnival in Italy.

Carnevale, Carnival, it’s a festive season between Christmas and Lent. During this time of the year a lot of events are held in every city.

These events somehow reminds me of the circus, especially because during parades, shows and public street parties people usually wear costumes and masks.

Cities like Venice, Viareggio and Imperia are particularly famous for their shows and parades, but if you’re visiting the Amalfi Coast in February the Carnival of Maiori is something that is worth to add to your bucket list.

Maiori and the Amalfi Coast

Maiori is one of the most enchanting spots on the Amalfi Coast and it’s much quieter than other popular towns, such as Ravello.

It’s a seaside village surrounded by mountains with one of the most extensive beaches on the coast.

During the Middle Ages this town was the main port of the Amalfi Republic, for this reason there are really interesting buildings such as convents and aristocratic palaces that you can visit still nowadays.

I love Maiori because it combines the beauty of nature with the charm of history and architecture, but it offers also hiking trails and excellent gastronomy.

The Carnival of Maiori

It’s said that the Carnival of Maiori is the result of the local rivalry with Minori.

During the last 60s Minori started a Carnival competition for masked groups, open to people coming from the surrounding villages. In1970 the group of Maiori was ranked to the last place and they didn’t take it well!

That’s why they decided to start their own Carnival parade from the following year.

Since that day, the Carnival of Maiori has become increasingly interesting over time.


It lasts about 10 days, during which the streets are filled with confetti, children wearing masks, while performances and events are held here and there, including the parade of the carnival floats.

This success depends not only on the commitment of the participants but also on geography. Maiori has wider spaces than the other villages of the Amalfi Coast, therefore is more suitable for hosting a bigger parade.

The Carnival Floats of Maiori

Many of the inhabitants of Maiori are involved in organizing the Carnival, which is not only a show for visitors, but also an event that connects people and allows to pass on artistic and craft skills that risked being lost.

The parade of the allegorical floats is the most anticipated event of the Carnival of Minori.

The construction of the huge floats lasts about 3 months.
There are 4 groups of workers in town and each of them build its own.

They work non-stop, modeling steel cables and papier-mâché to create characters and sets, painting every detail, making the movements of each part and the lighting and sound effects. They do really struggle to win the title of the most beautiful carnival float of the year!

A peculiarity is that the floats are themed. This year the theme is “Civilization and historical periods” to celebrate the European year of ‘slow tourism’.

During Carnival the floats parade throughout the city, accompanied by their own dance groups. They leave from the hamlet of Vecite, reach the Norman Tower and go along the promenade to the amphitheater of the marina.

Being part of this event is an unforgettable experience that will give you some of the best memories of the Amalfi Coast.

For 2019 the Carnival of Maiori will take place between February 23rd and March 10th.


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Campania during Christmas: the Amalfi Coast, Sorrento, Salerno and Naples

Campania during Christmas: the Amalfi Coast, Sorrento, Salerno and Naples

Campania during Christmas: the Amalfi Coast, Sorrento, Salerno and Naples

Campania during Christmas can be a lovely destination for a short holiday.The long traditions and the unique folklore are mixed with the lovely nature of places such as the Amalfi Coast or the strong identity of centers like Naples and Salerno.

From city decorations to traditional foods, the period between November and January is full of things to see and do.

Each city has its own calendar of events, which changes every year. What doesn’t change is the peculiarity of some spots that are worth a visit regardless what they organize to entertain people.

 

THE AMALFI COAST DURING CHRISTMAS

Tourists from around the world are used to visit the Amalfi Coast during summer.

The weather is perfect to enjoy the small towns and the sea at their best. Still, this area can surprise you even in winter, when visitors are gone and the towns go back to their residents.

The scenographic nature and towns of the Amalfi Coast are particularly charming during Christmas, since they somehow look like a real-size representation of the ‘presepi’, the nativity scenes that are so popular among Italians.

Light decorations are strategically placed to enhance the architectures and create a fairytale atmosphere.

When it comes to Christmas lights, every town of the Amalfi Coast has its own style and Minori is certainly one of the most appreciated.

I suggest you to rent a car, drive along the panoramic road and stop to each town to discover the Christmas events, or just to see the views or taste a traditional Christmas dish.

To appreciate the Amalfi coast during Christmas you should like tranquillity.

The towns are small and don’t offer great or fancy entertainments. However, seeing the fireworks reflecting off the Italian sea on New Year’s Eve and spending the rest of the night on the beach with the residents is a unique experience that you should try at least once in a lifetime.

 

SORRENTO DURING CHRISTMAS

During Christmas many are the cities embellished with decorations. However, Sorrento has take this tradition to another level.

From November to January, the town center is transformed into a magical word.

The streets are lit with colored lights, while buskers and street artists share their talents with the visitors.

The heart of this Christmas atmosphere is Piazza Tasso, where a big Christmas Tree is set every year.

The official Christmas Tree lighting ceremony is an event that summon both residents and tourists, and the Tree is set up to give a music and light show each hour.

Sorrento has also a rich calendar of holiday events, called “M’illumino d’inverno” that includes cinema, music, dance, art and food.

These events, together with the natural attractions, the hikes and the traditional customs, make Christmas in Sorrento a truly memorable experience.

 

SALERNO DURING CHRISTMAS

Another city in which Christmas lights enhance the winter atmosphere is Salerno.

27 km of city streets are embellished with light installations and decorations!

Salerno also hosts a large Christmas market. The stands display handicrafts or typical foods. It’s the perfect place to find a last minute present or an original souvenir.

Since it si a larger city, Salerno has many things that are worth to see, like the Arechi Castle, the Minerva’s Garden or the promenade in front of the sea.

 

NAPLES DURING CHRISTMAS

Naples is one of the largest cities in Italy and, as you can immagine, there are lots of things to see and do during a Christmas holiday.

You can think that in such a big city it could be impossible to feel the festive atmosphere, however Christmas is an important event for the residents.

Like the other cities, in Christmas Naples is an explosion of lights and decorations, especially the historic center.

The most folkloristic part of the center is Via San Gregorio Armeno. This street is renowned for the Neapolitan nativity scenes, called ‘presepi’, that are displayed on stands and handicraft shop windows.

Small statues and scale models are often handmade by master artisans that are continuing this tradition since the 1700s. The interesting thing is that artisans doesn’t limit their work to religious figures, but they also represent famous artists or VIPs.

This mix between the sacred and the profane makes the experience of visiting Via San Gregorio Armeno even more interesting.

If you like presepi, you can find some wonderful ones in many churches or at popular location such as the Certosa Museum of San Martino, the Palazzo Reale or the Royal Palace of Caserta.

Of course, this is just a brief overview of all the wonders that you can enjoy in Campania during Christmas. There are many other small towns and large cities that offer unique events. Fortunately, people in Campania are very friendly and if you want to discover something more all you have to do is just ask them! They’ll be happy to suggest you the best things to see and do around.

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Typical dishes of the Amalfi Coast: what to eat during your holidays

Typical dishes of the Amalfi Coast: what to eat during your holidays

Typical dishes of the Amalfi Coast: what to eat during your holidays

I like when customers ask me which are the typical dishes of the Amalfi Coast. For me, it means that they are really interested in discovering every aspects of my homeland, and I really appreciate it.

In my opinion, wherever you are going to spend your holidays, your experience won’t be complete if you don’t try local food. This is particularly true if you’re coming to Italy, since food is an important part of our cultural heritage.

The Amalfi Coast is located between the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Lattari Mountains. Its position characterizes the flavors of the local cuisine. Each village has its own specialties, but they are all linked by the same history and tradition.

Citrus fruits, fishes and crustaceans, fresh vegetables, cheeses, meat dishes and wonderful desserts fill the menus of both famous and non-famous restaurants.

There are many typical dishes of the Amalfi coast that are worth tasting. Let me suggest you some of them, based on their ingredients.

 

FRESH FISH

The sea is the protagonist of many typical dishes.

For example the Scialatielli with seafood, that is fresh pasta with mussels, clams or lupins, shrimps and squid. So tasty!

However, probably the most famous fish based product of the Amalfi Coast is the Colatura di Alici, an anchovy sauce.

I talked about it in a previous article dedicated to Cetara, the town from where the Colatura comes from.

The anchovies caught in spring are cleaned and placed in a container for 24 hours, covered with sea salt. Then they are moved into a small wooden barrel, alternated with layers of salt, and pressed with a weight.

The liquid that comes out of the pressing is filtered, exposed to the sun for a few months and placed in the barrel for the second time. Then it is poured through layers of fish and filtered again.

The result is a super tasty oil. A few drops are enough to flavor any dish and give you the bizarre sensation of ‘eating the sea’.

 

TASTY CHEESE

The name of the the Lattari Mountains comes from the word ‘Latte’, that is milk. The Romans gave them this name  because of the numerous goats and cows raised in the area.

And where there are goats and cows there is also cheese!

The Amalfi Coast offers great products such as mozzarella fior di latte, provolone and ricotta. The towns of Tramonti and Agerola are the reference points for the local cheese production.

As for the typical dishes based on cheese, I cannot fail to mention the Ndunderi a type of gnocchi made with the freshest ricotta. UNESCO considers Ndunderi one of the oldest pasta in the world.

Where can you taste them? Try in some typical trattoria in Minori.

 

UNFORGETTABLE CAKES AND DESSERTS

All the pastry shops on the Amalfi Coast (and not only) are full of wonderful desserts: rum babàs, pastiera, ice creams, Christmas cookies, sfogliatelle, ricotta&pear pie and Caprese cake.

The Caprese cake is as simple as it is delicious. It is made of almonds and chocolate, without flour or yeast. I know that it may seems a have and too sweet cake, but actually it is light and tasty and easy to enjoy.

Another cake worth a try is Pasticciotto di Atrani. It’s a delicate shell of shortcrust pastry filled with crème patissière and black cherry jam.

Finally, I would also recommend Sospiri di Maiori, a soft sponge cake covered with icing and filled with lemon cream.

Well, which one do you like to try first?

 

UNEXPECTED VEGETABLES

I bet you now expect some salad or veg flan. No, no.

I’m going to introduce you the most particular dish of the whole Amalfi Coast. It’s a dish that can puzzled when you read its name on a restaurant menù but, once you try it, you will completely change your mind.

It is aubergine with chocolate!

Yes, you read right!

It’s a sweet dish usually prepared in mid-August. Of course it’s prepared with aubergines, combined with dark chocolate and almonds.

Since it is quite ancient every town has its own recipe.

I think that the best place to taste the dish is Maiori, especially during the festival of Festa dell’Assunta.

 

PASTA, PIZZA OIL AND LEMONS

Which food represents Italy better than pasta? None. Wait … maybe pizza! Well, in both cases the region of Campania, and therefore the Amalfi Coast, is the excellence of the country.

In particular, the towns of Minori and Gragnano are the most famous for pasta.

As you have already seen, we cook pasta with fish, cheese, but also vegetables and even with lemon. Yes, tagliolini al limone, noodles with lemons, are delicious!

Lemons are everywhere in the Amalfi Coast! And so are olive trees, from which we produce great oils. And we have lots of the vineyards too!

In short, if you come to the Amalfi coast for your holidays, get ready to experience one of the most intense gustatory experiences of your life. Maybe you will gain a few pounds but who cares? You will feel terribly happier, I guarantee you!

 

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Sentiero dei limoni, The Path of Lemons. A trekking experience  at the Amalfi Coast

Sentiero dei limoni, The Path of Lemons. A trekking experience at the Amalfi Coast

Path of Lemons

Finally spring has come and the trekking season is officially open!

Here in the Amalfi Coast there is one of the most beautiful trekking path of whole Italy. I’m talking about the Path of Lemons, Sentiero dei Limoni.

The Path of Lemons is what’s left of the old mule track that connected the villages of the Amalfi coast before the construction of the route SS 163.

It clings along the ridges of the hills, directly above the sea and, as the name clearly suggests, lemon trees are all around.

The path of the Lemons connects Maiori with the nearby Minori, passing through the picturesque village of Torre.

I think that the best starting point is Maiori. From Piazzale Campo you can follow Via Vena and pass the lovely church of Santa Maria a Mare with its dome covered with green and yellow majolica tiles.

Once outside the town, you will find yourself surrounded by the silence, the colors and the scents of the Mediterranean vegetation: terracing of olive trees, vines and, of course, lemons.

Walking in such a relaxing background is so regenerating! And it doesn’t take too long to reach the hamlet of Torre.

Torre is a bunch of houses with the beautiful church of San Michele Arcangelo, dating back to the 10th century. You will be surprised to know that this small village was accessible only by foot and the first cars were able to reach it only in 2014! I think that Torre may be the right place if you want to run away from the hurry of the modern lifestyle and find some quiet.

The good news is that from Torre to Minori the Path of Lemons is mostly downhill.

The panorama is still the typical of the Amalfi coast: white houses, lemon groves, vines, courtyards and breathtaking sea views.

A panoramic point you cannot miss is the belvedere of the “mortella” (myrtle). From there you can have a fantastic view on Minori, its impressive Basilica and the bell tower, the beach, Torre Paradiso, but also Ravello, the mountains of Scala and Agerola and, in the distance, Amalfi and Atrani.

Another few steps and you reach the historic center of Minori.

Despite being a seaside village, Minori is the city of pasta. In other words is the place to have lunch, believe me!

Once in Minori you can choose to stop and go back, or continue up to Ravello. In this case the Path of Lemons is uphill, but it’s worth it.

Maiori and Minori are small treasures off the most touristic track, while Ravello is certainly more famous. The reason is simple: it’s beautiful! Richard Wagner, Mirò, Virginia Woolf are just some of the famous people who fell in love with that town and decided to live there for a while. You must absolutely visit Villa Rufolo, with its terrace overlooking the sea (I should talk about it in another article).

The whole Path of Lemons is an easy walk, suitable for everyone, even for small children. Just remember that there are many steps and it is good to pay a little attention.

There are fountains, benches and places to stop all along the way.

And if you’re afraid of getting lost, don’t worry: the whole path is marked with decorated ceramic plaques that tell where you are and where to go.

 

The Amalfi Coast is a lovely place for your holiday!

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Procida. What to see during a day-trip to the island

Procida. What to see during a day-trip to the island

Day Trip Procida

I went to Procida quite a few times in the past and I always loved its picturesque scenario. Its small size and the stunning views on the sea make this island perfect for a day trip.

If you decide to visit it you will probably land at Marina Grande, the main harbor of Procida. The first things you will see are the fishermen, their boats and the pastel-colored buildings of the town facing the waterfront. It’s a lovely view!

You will immediately feel like you are in a place where time has stopped and the rush of modernity is left behind. It’s not just because of the mix of typical architecture and nature. People in Procida is very friendly and I think this is the most important element that creates such a nice relaxed atmosphere.

But what you can visit to take the best out of your day trip to Procida?

In my opinion there are 2 spots that you can’t miss.

The first spot is Terra Murata with its fortified center built on the highest point of the island.

The walk to reach this spot is not easy but it’s worthy since the views on the Gulf of Naples are breathtaking.

Terra Murata is an historical point of interest of Procida. If you have time, take a visit to Palazzo d’Avalos (also know as the Procida Castle) and the Abbey of San Michele.

Palazzo d’Avalos was built in the 16th century and it’s a beautiful example of renaissance architecture. In 1830 the building become a prison, closed in 1988 but stil available for booked visits.

The Benedictine Abbey of San Michele dates back to the 11th century, but it underwent partial makeovers during its history. The most interesting thing of the Abbey is a painting in which you can see a depiction of Marina Grande in the 16th century.

 

The second spot to visit is Vivara.

Vivara is a tiny island connected to Procida by a long pedestrian bridge that cross the sea. The walk on the bridge it’s a charge of sunlight and sea breeze! It’s the perfect way to arrive to this island, in which nature is the queen.

It’s an ancient volcano with a unique wild flora and a plentiful presence of sea birds and marine fauna. These are the reason why Vivara is a nature reserve since 2002. Moreover, the island has also an archeological value thanks to the remains of Bronze-Age Mycenaean settlements.

Procida is certainly the best place for those who wants to eat the freshest sea food. There are many restaurants to choose from.

I want to end this article talking about an event that can be interesting if you’re coming to Procida during Easter.

As in other towns of Campania, also in Procida takes place a Good Friday Procession, called Processione dei Misteri. During this procession men dressed with white and blue tunics carry by hand life-size papier-mâché reproductions of scenes of Christ’s Passion. It’s very suggestive.

So, as you can see, Procida is small but has nice surprises to offer to its visitors.

A day trip will not disappoint you.

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