Thursday, October 16, 2014

Il Cucciolo, Giorgio al Cucciolo, Anacapri

Although this restaurant does take big groups, they are not seated in the same area as couples, singles, small groups or small families who have pre-booked their tables.
With a view to die for, and excellent service and food, a free shuttle just adds to its allure! September 2014.

Grotta Azzurra: the Blue Grotto, Capri

The Blue Grotto must surely be on everyone's Bucket List.  Probably best to go around midday to get the best colours of the sea inside the Grotto. If the sea is rough, boats are not allowed in, so check before you take a boat from Marina Grande.

It's not difficult to get to the grotto, either from land or sea.  If travelling by land, take a bus or taxi from Capri town or Anacapri, and walk down the steps, to stand in line for a boat and "driver" to take you inside the Grotto. 

Boats from Marina Grande (the main port of Capri) or from the mainland (Sorrento / Positano / Massa Lubrense etc) can take you to the grotto. Allow time for a long queue. ( You may not enter in your own boat.)

If arriving at the Grotto by sea, again there's a queue, as the many small passenger boats and small motor boats vie for a front position.  Actually it's all fairly organised, in an Italian kind of way, and boats take their turn, with the  drivers trying to attract the attention of their favourite oarsmen.  However you arrive there's a Euro 13 per person fee to get into the rowboats with the "gondoliers".  And they require a tip. You need to lie down in the boat to get through the low entrance, so don't wear glam. 

Pesce sparda. Sword fish: how much?

Having lunch in Sorrento, a fisherman walks through.  Selling? How much?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Red Roses in Rome

If you have ever wondered how the sellers manage to keep their red roses in pristine condition in the heat of Rome, here's the answer.
 In Piazza del Popolo there are several appealing animals sprouting clean fresh water into the troughs below. Along comes the seller with a bunch of roses a little the worse for wear, dips them in the water, holds them under, shakes a few times, then, proudly continues his work with born again roses.

Music, Architecture, and Rome: Scarab Beetles

If you love music and modern architecture you'll surely want to visit the so-called "Scarab Beetles" in Rome. The most lauded architect in Italy (and since last year a "Senator for Life") Renzo Piano designed the Auditorium Parco della Musica which was inaugurated in 2002 and has become the most visited music facility in Europe.

 There are 3 main separate concert halls, and a fourth external semicircular space, the cavea, which represents the ancient Roman theatres. The whole is designed using materials of Roman tradition: traventine for the terrace and Roman brickwork for the basement. My fotos do not do it justice.

It's not difficult to get to: for example, from Rome's Stazione Termini (the main station) take the "A" Metro (train) towards Battistini for 4 stops, getting off at Flaminio.  From there take the Tram Number 2, for 4 stops.  On alighting  wait for the all- clear  before crossing the road, as you will be in the middle of a road when you get of the tram.  Then follow your nose for about 200 metres (at right angles from the tram platform, and towards what looks like a huge overpass), and the auditorium is on your right.  It is open most days from 11am. Remember to buy your ticket (newspaper stall or tabaccheria) before getting to the Metro where it is usually busier (you can use the same ticket for the tram, just re-validate).  A ticket for 100 minutes costs Euro 1.50.

We also visited another magnificent modern building designed by Renzo Piano, the winery La Rocca in Gavorrano, when in the South West of Tuscany earlier this year.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Building the pergola: what strength! What skill!

Around the Amalfi Coast there are millions of lemon trees and olive trees, so many pergolas are built, mainly  to protect them from the weather.

Just recently terrific storms with hail stones the size of a small egg ruined entire crops.
The pergolas are built high, with netting rolled up on top. Eugenio showed us how his skilled father made the joins strong and safe. Meticulous work with the wire.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Narrow Ladders in Campania

The farmers' ladders in parts of the south of Italy in the beautiful area of Massa Lubrense, are long, strong and narrow.  Used in harvesting and pruning olive trees and lemon trees, they are made from castagna/chestnut tree wood, and traditionally the labourers climbed bare footed. If you look carefully at the attached photos you may be able to see how the climbers moved a leg around the ladder to provide security when high up.  And you'll see at the foot of the ladder, one rung very close to the one above it... again, for safety reasons, to give the last step down a softer landing.

Capri, a swim away

The beautiful island of Capri seems so close from the mainland around Sorrento and Massa Lubrense.  This is a view from our window at breakfast.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Il Fienile restaurant

We found this great , fairly new,family run  restaurant for our Sunday lunch.  And what a find! Typical traditional food, produced locally, much of the ingredients grown by the owners.  It's hidden away in the hills in a tiny town by the name of Torca, in Massa Lubrense, not far from Napoli.  Well worth a visit.  It's where the locals go, which makes it even more perfect!


The archaeological park at Paestum in southern Italy is the best - preserved archaeological Greek site in the Mediterranean , and only 2 hours drive from the bay of Naples. Amongst the ancient marvels are three very large intact temples, the largest and most impressive being the temple of Neptune/Apollo/Hera from 465BC.

Quattro Passi Restaurant. Michellin Stars a wonderful evening we had last night at 2 Michellin starred restaurant Quattro Passi in Massa Lubrense, Italia, thanks to chef Antonio Mellino, Rita Mellino, Sasha, Mario, Alesandro, and staff. From the moment we were picked up at our hotel, through the walk in the underground cellar, the wines, the degustazione menu, and all the little extras, the excellent table service, the magnificent view, and finally , just for us, a rather grand fireworks display.  Here are photos of some of the courses we enjoyed....