Dolly Travels – Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast

Author: , July 24th, 2015

Amalfi Coast - Dolly GoolsbyI am sad to say that this will be my last blog post from Italy this year. We have had a great time. First there was a group of 6 of us travelers, then Susan and I had one week in the Dolomites, where we met more friends, then we went to Florence and Jayne joined us for this last 3 weeks.

We have experienced a heat wave like I have never felt before, but still we kept going…not doing as much as we would have like to do, because of the heat, but fortunately, for us, Italy has some amazing beaches.

We elected to bypass Rome during the heat, and instead, spent our last seven days in Sorrento. While the weather was still pretty warm, it was tolerable. We especially love the Marina Grande in Sorrento. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the commune of the “Fisherman’s Village” had covered the rocky beach with some great sand, apparently dredged up from the sea near there, as we were told it was native sand, not sand that had been brought in from somewhere else.

At the Marina Grande, one can rent a sun chair and umbrella and enjoy the beach. Many of the restaurants loan chairs and umbrellas to their customers. Our favorite restaurant in Sorrento, Delfino’s, is the furthest one out. During the day, one can rent a sun chair on the deck and swim. There is a ladder on the north side of the deck that goes into deeper water, while on the south side, a ladder takes you into shallow water. Just perfect!

Amalfi Coast - Dolly GoolsbyOn Tuesday, we toured the Amalfi Coast. We had hired a driver to take us on this tour. Raffaele Monetti, of Monetti Taxi, picked us up at 9:00 a.m. He escorted us down the coast. What beautiful scenery all along. We stopped in Positano and Amalfi, then had lunch in Ravello.

There’s an amazing rock overlooking the sea for thousands of years. Raffaele told us the local people say it resembles the Virgin Mary. What is most remarkable about this rock, is that “Mary” has a crown of flowers in her hair and is holding on a bouquet of flowers. Those are always there. I do think that rock is blessed.

We also saw the remnant of an ancient watch tower. It was not a lighthouse…it was a tower where a watchman could spot ships of invaders, and light a fire in the tower to warn the people, who could flee to the upper parts of the mountains. These were in use over 700 to 800 years ago. The invaders were the Turks and the Moors. Raffaele told us the Moors were the most feared, as they were so violent. They would kill the men and take the women and children for slaves. Then, there were also pirates from Portugal and Spain. Seems like lots of people wanted a piece of this coast.

y lunch time, we had reached Ravello, which is 500 meters above sea level, up the hill from Amalfi. There is a staircase, hundreds of years old, made of stone, of course, that goes from Amalfi to Ravello. There are over 3,000 stairs in that staircase. That would be a difficult walk.

Finally, we had to go back the way we came, back to Sorrento. It was a very enjoyable day. I have had tours with Raffaele several times. He is the nicest person, and thoroughly enjoys what he does. I asked him if he ever gets tired of driving that coast, as the traffic gets horrendous. He told me, “No, how could I get tired of this lovely sea coast.” He told us his father has done these tours for 45 years, and he is still not tired of driving the coast.

We spent the next day packing and getting ready to leave. Believe it or not, it was too hot to go to the beach. We were told, that evening, that someone had to be taken from the beach to the hospital, because of the heat.

Now we are at our hotel near the airport in Rome, so that we can fly home tomorrow. This hotel is situated in the town of Fiumincino, right where the River Tiber meets the sea. It is beautiful.

We will be home in 37 hours! I will write more when I have another adventure.

Ciao for now,


By Dolly Goolsby – Full Story at Dolly Travels | Campania Gay Travel Resources

My Last Day in Sorrento

Author: , October 16th, 2014

Sorrento - Dolly GoolsbyOh, I have such a bundle of mixed feelings: in one part of my heart there is joy that I am going home, and will see my friends and family once again. I have one great-granddaughter, Natalee, that I haven’t met yet, so that will be a happy experience to be able to meet her. Then another great-granddaughter, Aurielle, who must have grown so much since I last saw her, it will be fun to get re-acquainted.

Plus all the other family members, and Frank, who has the patience of a saint, to encourage my travels, and is always there for me. Yes, I will be happy to be home, for these reasons.

However, the biggest part of my heart always remains in Italy. I am sad to leave, as there are still so many places I haven’t been, and so many places where I want to return. Yes, I admit it. I have been very fortunate to be able to travel like I do, and I suppose I am a bit spoiled. I know I will come back to Italy, so I will try not to be too sad.

Last night, Susan and I returned to our favorite ristorante in Sorrento, for our farewell dinner. We had dinner there 3 out of the 6 nights of our Sorrento stay. We were treated like long-lost relatives every time we visited. The food is so good, and the owners, who are also wait-staff, are so genuinely caring.

Sorrento is indeed a lovely place, even if, during the day, the city is packed with tour groups, from cruise ships, from independent tour guides..I don’t know where they all came from. We tried to find quieter places to visit during those times.

We have been in Italy for 3 months. It would be hard to single out just one favorite place, or event.

The hikes in the Dolomites, the village of Burano near Venice, the Cinque Terre, all these bring back special memories. Plus the four weeks we got too spend in Montepulciano. All great experiences.

So now, I will leave you, and leave Italy behind. Arriverderci until next time, all my friends, and Bell’Italia.

Ciao for now,


By Dolly Goolsby – Full Story at Dolly Travels | Campania Gay Travel Resources

Dolly Goes to an Italian Cooking School

Author: , October 13th, 2014

Italian Cooking Class - Dolly GoolsbyGood morning,

I am so enjoying this southern Italy city of Sorrento. The food is so fresh and wonderful. I decided it would be a good thing for me to learn to cook like the people do here. There are many schools, and deciding which one to attend was not an easy task. I finally went to the information center in town, and they found a place for me for the following day.

As with many things in Italy, I came out of the information center with just a promise that someone would pick me up at my hotel the next morning and take me to the class. I did not even know the name of the school, but is did know how much it was cost, and the price was reasonable.

Sure enough, Friday morning, almost on time, this young man drove up to the hotel to get me. He had 2 others people in the car already, so we set off for the class. (Actually, the drive there was so entertaining, that it is worth a blog post on its own.)

Twenty minutes later we arrived at Villa Pane. This is a lovely villa up in the hills above Sorrento. Two other students were already there, ready to go to work. They got a head start on prep work, as they were staying at the villa, which is also a B&B.

We were greeted by Anna Marie, owner of the villa and a wonderful cook. She told us she is not a professional chef, but she grew up in the area, and is still using recipes that were used by her mother, mother-in-law, grandmother. She is also the mother of the two young men who were helping her. One of them had been our driver. I am so sorry I did not get their names. We were told by Anna Marie what dishes we would be preparing that day. Then we started.

I was so impressed with her kitchen. I was envious. She told us it took years and years to finally get the kitchen she wanted, as she could only do some of the remodel. Then wait to have more money to do more. I love the copper pots and bakeware. Most of them were very old, but she uses them all the time.

The family has a garden area, or two or three, I suppose. The basil came from the herb garden, there was another area where the tomatoes fact, all the fresh vegetables we used came from their organic garden, even the potatoes for the gnocchi and croquettes.

Kevin, starting the bread making process. The flour is weighed, not measured with a cup. We used semolina flour for the bread and the gnocchi. The semolina was very finely ground, much like “00” wheat flour, but Anna Marie told us that semolina, although technically a wheat product, is ground from a very hard type of wheat. She also said many people with gluten intolerance can have semolina without having any problems.

I was in heaven, as I got to mix the potatoes, eggs, salt into the semolina with my hands until it was the right consistency. I hadn’t got to cook anything all week, so I was ready for some hands-on cooking experiences.

Everyone had made their own rolls, so it was interesting to see the difference in shapes. The bread has olives and sun dried tomatoes inside.

Finally, all was finished, and we sat at a long table on the terrace to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

What a lovely day. We finished our meal with the chocolate cake and coffee. By the time I got back to the hotel, I was stuffed and needed a nap, but the espresso had me wired, so I just relaxed.

I received my Italian culinary diploma. So now I am “authorized” to cook typical Campania type food. When would you like to come over for dinner?

Ciao for now,


By Dolly Goolsby – Full Story at Dolly Travels | Campania Gay Travel Resources

A Serene Day in Sorrento

Author: , October 10th, 2014

Church in Sorrento - Dolly GoolsbyYes!

Susan and I arrived in Sorrento in the afternoon on Monday. We had traveled from Florence to Napoli on the new Italo train, a train system with which I am very much impressed. Then we had to fight the huge crowds in Napoli Centrale station to get to the Circumvesuviana train which took us to Sorrento. Of course, that train was crowded, also, and it was very warm.

Finally, we arrived in Sorrento, walked down the Corso, found our hotel, got settled in, then set out to find some lunch.

We walked down to the Marina Grande, had a light lunch, then went back up to the main part of town and tried to see some of the city. There were so many large tour groups in the city that everywhere we went, we felt like fish either swimming upstream, or caught in the school of fish swimming downstream. We finally gave up, went back to our hotel and just waited until evening to venture out again.

In the evening, the crowds had thinned a little bit, but it was still pretty busy. We finally had a small dinner at Light Aurora, right on Piazza Tasso, where we could watch the crowds and still enjoy our meal. We met a lovely young couple from South Carolina, and visited with them for quite awhile. Eventually we headed back to our hotel, for much needed sleep.

Don’t get me wrong! I love Sorrento. I am just not fond of being in such crowds. Yesterday was better, as we were determined to see the city. We just tried to find the streets less traveled, and that worked out pretty well. We did have lunch at Pizza Aurora, our favorite pizza restaurant here in Sorrento.

Last night we went to our very, very favorite ristorante on Marina Grande, Ristorante Delfino, which is the very last restaurant on the Marina, set on a long pier out over the water. We had a delicious dinner, finished with a complimentary glass of limoncello, then walked back up the hill to our hotel. The night was lovely, with a full moon shining over the water. I am sorry I didn’t think to take pictures, but we are going back tomorrow night for dinner, so I will take pictures tomorrow.

Today I was determined to see the city and avoid the crowds. I went up to the main part of town, and stepped into the Cathedral. Wow! Magnificent!

Since I had Rick Steves’ book with me, I decided to follow his city walk. I was amazed that I encountered so few people on this walk. I liked that!

Next, I went into the Church of San Francesco, which is right next to the park. Beside the church was the most peaceful cloister.

Inside the church, there’s a chapel dedicated to San Francesco. I did light a candle and said a prayer for everyone that needs a prayer. I think that is all of us..

From there, I walked down the hill to the Marina Grande, following the small street, with stairs, that parallels the sea. There is an old stone gate, reminding us the Marina Grande was once a separate village, the Fisherman’s Village.

I had lunch at Trattoria da Emilio, another good restaurant, serving fresh caught seafood.

I continued my walk, just enjoying the peacefulness of the water, non-existent crowds, friendly people.

That completed my walk for the day. I found a staircase that has 315 stairs leading from the Marina up to a hotel; however, it was closed to the public, or I might have tried to go up. Therefore, I simply took the road back up to our hotel, and decided to wait until evening before venturing out again.

Yes, I do love Sorrento. Especially when I can enjoy “un giorno tranquillo”.

Ciao for now,


By AUTHOR – Full Story at SOURCE | Campania Gay Travel Resources

Buongiorno From Sorrento

Author: , May 8th, 2013

Pizzeria Aurora, SorrentoOur dear friend, Bella (Dolly Goolsby) is on the go again, this time in Italy. She has graciously allowed us to republish her travel blogs. Enjoy!

Oh, how gorgeous Sorrento is! And much more relaxed than Rome, although there are many British, Canadian, and cruise ship tourists here. Our apartment, unfortunately, is on a very busy street, so night noise is a problem, but we are very central.

And walking distance to everything. Yesterday when we arrived, we took a walking tour through the main part of the city, after enjoying a wonderful pizza at Pizza Aurora, right at the central piazza, Piazza Tasso. It was sunny and lovely, but all at once, the sky opened up, and we headed for the apartment at a fast clip. We were all soaked. And wouldn’t you know, 5 minutes later, the sun came out and it was beautiful again.

Today, we each did our own thing. Susan, Kiri and Patrick went to the Isle of Capri, Jane and Marj and I went to the weekly market about a half mile up the hill behind our apartment. It was very good. As most of you know, I am happiest going to the market or cooking. We got some lovely produce, but I did pass on the wine, that was 3 bottles for 5 Euro.

In the afternoon, as Jane and Marj went their own way, I went back to the central part of the city. There is a great restaurant/bar called the Foreigner’s Club, that has the best view of any place in town. I sat there, for over an hour, just looking at the sea, and sipping one glass of wine.

Later, we all met up, back at the apartment. We cooked the food we had bought at the market, with a side trip to the supermarket.

Tomorrow we have a driver who is taking us on a trip down the Amalfi coast, so we are looking forward to that.

More adventures in the future.

So ciao for now. Our next post will tell you about Amalfi coast.

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Dolly Travels: Postcards From an Italian Adventure – Capri

Author: , May 16th, 2010

Dolly "Bella" GoolsbyOur dear friend, Bella (Dolly Goolsby) is off on an extended adventure in Italy. She has graciously agreed to let us republish her travel logs – here is the first one, about her trip to Capri. She’s using a new iPad, and had a bit of trouble getting us pictures at first, but as her story progresses, we’ll have some great pics to share with the Purple Roofs readers too. Enjoy!

This morning we took a boat to Capri. This was a special tour from our hotel. It was a good trip as it was a small boat with just 13 of us in it from the hotel. The captain took us around to the Marina Piccola on the backside of the island. From there we took 2 buses up to Anacapri. Tiny little buses that they packed us in like sardines.

Today is a holiday so many Italians are here. You should see the road! Amalfi Coast pales in comparison! I was trying not to look down. Beautiful view but scary!

From Anacapri, we took the chair lift to the top of Monte Solaro, up 1900 feet. It was so peaceful up there. The sun was shining. we saw a man tending his garden. The birds were singing, naturally, arias in Italian. What a marvelous day.

We got back to Sorrento about 5:30, relaxed for awhile then Susan went for a run. Now we are getting ready to go back down to the marina for another fish dinner. We just never get tired of the fresh seafood.

One more day here, then Monday we will go back to Florence.

We miss everyone but are having a blast!

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