The Amalfi Coast -The Scruffy Italian Traveler

Author: , January 13th, 2017

Amalfi Coast

Last Summer I spent a weekend in this stunning part of Southern Italy, and I fell in love with it! Although not far from Puglia, the region where I live (a mere 3 and a half hours drive), I barely knew the area. I had visited it once with my parents when I was a kid, but I didn’t have much memory of it: it was such a surprise to discover how beautiful it is! I slept in Maiori, the perfect starting point for many different day trips around along Amalfi Coast.

First of all, where is that? Amalfi Coast is so called after the name of one of its best known towns, Amalfi. It is a stretch of coastline about 50-kilometers long in Campania region (the most famous city of it being Napoli, or Naples). It runs from Vietri sul Mare, a picturesque town worldwide famous for its ceramics, up to Meta, hilltop village just outside Sorrento. Amalfi Coast runs at the base of the Lattari mountains, which makes the view of the coastline very dramatic.

Driving through the so – called “road of 1,000 bends” is an experience itself. Very tortuous, the road passes through lemon terraces (being the lemon the most characteristic fruit of the area, well known for the limoncello productions) and traditional villages. The road is so narrow that during summer months traffic jams are inevitable! For this reason, if driving is not your favorite thing, you should probably avoid to drive on this road, preferring to take one of the buses that link the coast. It will also be a pleasant way to enjoy the stunning cliffs on one side and the astonishing azure sea on the other.

By Sergio Scardia – Full Story at The Scruffy Italian Traveler

Campania Gay Travel Resources

Amalfi Coast – Carlos Melia

Author: , June 11th, 2016

Amalfi Coast - Carlos Melia

My day took me from my base at Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria in Sorrento, all the way to Ravello and back along the stunning panoramic road of the Amalfi Coast, with stops in Amalfi, Praiano and Positano. From the distance, I was also able to catch a view of Maiori and Minori, and drive by Atrani, which I thought I was very charismatic.

Amalfi Coast - Carlos MeliaDriving along the Amalfi Coast for us was rather easy, since we were there during the off-season, but during Summer time you better be patient. Distances are not to long, I mean from town to town, there is 25 to 30 minutes drive, without traffic.

First stop was Ravello, which is the furthest point I have explored Amalfi Coast. I only did a quick overview, since I would be staying later during the week, for a night at Belmond Hotel Caruso. So I will leave this open to my next upcoming post. But most definetely a MUST visit.

Amalfi Coast - Carlos MeliaLunch at Trattoria pizzeria Cumpa Cosimo was just perfect. Unlike many other dinning experiences I had during my time at the Amalfi Coast, it was very local, rustic, grewat Italian food and and very charismatic owner and Chef Netta Bottone, who tours the tables to ensure her clients are content. Her family has owned this cantina for more than 75 of its 300. Not only I tried her cooking, but also got plenty of love and kisses from her. ADORABLE.

Next stop was Amalfi, a brief walk around, at the foot of Monte Cerreto. The town of Amalfi was the capital of the maritime republic. Amalfi is included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The highlight other than the spectacular panoramic views, which you will find all along the way, is the Amalfi Cathedral di Sant’Andrea.

Next stop, for many, the star of the Amalfi Coast, beautiful – but very crowded and over the top touristy – Positano. I mean, it is GORGEOUS, the views are all you would expect when visitin the Amalfi Coast and more, now it is very hectic and happening.

I came to do a walk around Le Sirenuse Hotel, and I deeply fall in love with the property, the panoramic views and the lovely Michelin starred restaurant La Sponda. I was so pleased, that right away booked my clients there for their upcoming Summer stay in Positano.

Dinner was at this quaint ristorante called KASAI, in Praiano. Again, just what I needed, great local food and great company, along the owner of the restaurant and my new – fabulous and fun friend – Fiona Fava. Lots of loval delights and even more bottles of local white wine. Literally eating and drinking my way across Italy. This was my full day discovering the many charming towns of the Amalfi Coast.

By Carlos Melia – Full Story at the Carlos Melia Blog

Campania Gay Travel Resources

Exploring Pompeii in Two Hours – Carlos Melia

Author: , June 10th, 2016

Pompeii was an ancient Roman town-city near modern Naples, in the Campania region of Italy. Declared UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is considered one of the most visited atractions of Italy.

Pompeii - Carlos Melia

Pompeii, along with Herculaneum and many villas in the surrounding area, was mostly destroyed and buried under 13 to 20 ft of volcanic ash in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79.

Pompei - Carlos MeliaIf you are staying either in the Amalfi Coast or Naples, it is an easy and interesting half day experience. In my case I did it after checking out my hotel in Sorrento – Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria, and on my way to my next destination in Ravello. BTW both scenic drives – Sorrento to Pompeii along the Amalfi Coast and Pompeii to Ravello through the montains, were breathtaking. Mind I was there during off-seasons, therefore my drives were approx. one hour each way. During high season, drives might take up to 3 hours each way.

By the time of its destruction, 160 years later, its population was estimated at 11,000 people, and the city had a complex water system, an amphitheatre, gymnasium, and a port.

The eruption destroyed the city, killing its inhabitants and burying it under tons of ash. The objects that lay beneath the city have been preserved for centuries because of the lack of air and moisture. These artifacts provide an extraordinarily detailed insight into the life of a city during the Pax Romana.

Pompeii - Carlos MeliaDuring the excavation, plaster was used to fill in the voids in the ash layers that once held human bodies. This allowed one to see the exact position the person was in when he or she died.

My favorite part of my visit, with my private guide, was visiting the houses – like Casa del Menandro, learning about their ways of leaving, preserved mosaics and frescos, and the intricated and advsnced hydraulic system and impluvium. The impluvium is the sunken part of the atrium in a Greek or Roman house (domus). Designed to carry away the rainwater coming through the compluvium of the roof.

By Carlos Melia – Full Story at the Carlos Melia Blog

Campania Gay Travel Resources

Femminiello Pride

Author: , January 14th, 2016

Femmineillo Pride

Irpinia contradicts everything you expect about Southern Italy. The rainy climate and green mountains have more in common with the Pacific Northwest than the Amalfi Coast, just 40 miles away. Instead of Roman ruins like those at Pompeii, stones remain from the Osci, the native Campanian tribe known for their salacious festivals. The spiritual center of the region is the famously hard-to-reach church at Montevergine.

Pilgrims arrive after long bus rides over highways that span seemingly bottomless gorges. Irpinia’s landscape is foreboding, which is why the Montevergine pilgrimage has always required strong and focused devotion. The thin air is hard to breathe. The damp stone from the mountain’s peaks perfume the air with ancient minerals.

In the cleared piazza, old women sell candles and chestnuts, but the attention belongs to the crowds of dancing men and women beating tambourines and clapping out ancient rhythms with castanets. If you took away the down coats and wool hats, the scene would look like it inspired one of the ancient mosaics on display at the archaeological museum in nearby Naples.

Energy builds among the devotees who pray and sing as the faithful have done here since the thirteenth century. But on February 2nd devotees wear lipstick and stubble and feather boas. By the time night descends, over two thousand gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender pilgrims will have passed through this Catholic shrine to worship the icon they call the ‘Madonna of Transformation.’

By Danielle Oteri – Full Story at Roads and Kingdoms

Campania Gay Travel Resources

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Dream Euro Trip – Acciaroli, Italy

Author: , August 14th, 2015

Acciaroli - DJ Yabis

Acciaroli is that kind of charming fishing village along the Cilento coast in Italy where they don’t even bother calling possibly their only bar any other name but that, Bar.

Legend has it that Ernest Hemingway visited in 1953 and met his “Old Man” here. They say that he based the character of Santiago in his novel “The Old Man and the Sea” on a local fisherman called Antonio Massarone.

“Everything about him was old except his eyes, and they were the same color as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated.”

By DJ Yabis – Full Story at Dream Euro Trip | LOCATION Gay Travel Resources | Other Gay Travel Events

Dream Euro Trip – Cetara is for Fish Lovers

Author: , July 30th, 2015

DJ Yabis - Cetara, Italy

I love seafood. I could give up meat and poultry any day if I could eat fresh seafood everyday. It’s so difficult to find good or fresh seafood in Germany where I live so every time I find myself in the Mediterranean I make it a point to always eat as much seafood as I can.

On my recent trip to discover the other unknown villages of the Amalfi coast, I visited the quaint, fishing village of Cetara.

Cetara looks like a quintessential Mediterrean fishing village: colorful houses built around a domed Church, a small port and a beach lined with bobbing fishing boats.

By DJ Yabis – Full Story at Dream Euro Trip | Campania Gay Travel Resources

Dream Euro Trip – Amalfi and Cilento Are The Most Beautiful Coasts in Italy

Author: , July 29th, 2015

Salerno - DJ Yabis

If there is one place that keeps surprising me with its beauty, cuisine, culture and history, it’s Italy. As much as I hate to admit it because it is so cliche and predictable even: I love Italy. No no no no. This is not coming from a tourist visiting for a week for the first time. I have visited Italy hundreds of times, ruined my waistline (all the time) and pretty much abandoned my Paleo diet which I worked so hard for to tell you a fact: I REALLY LOVE ITALY.

I love its big historical cities and its smaller, unknown – sometimes abandoned – towns equally. And my favorite coastline to date? It has to be the famous Amalfi coast and my recent discovery, the lesser known Cilento coast next to it.

The Amalfi coast and Cilento coast are both part of the province of Salerno in the Campania region. I visited Positano, the most famous town along the Amalfi coast, in 2011 and immediately fell in love. I vowed to come back and explore the area more so I am happy to make that dream a reality this summer.

By DJ Yabis – Full Story at Dream Euro Trip | Italy Gay Travel Resources | Other Gay Travel Events

Dream Euro Trip – Villages of the Amalfi Coast

Author: , July 27th, 2015

Amalfi Coast

You all know by now that I love traveling to Italy. I just recently travelled to the Amalfi Coast for the second time and before I tell you all my stories and travel tips about this beautiful area in Italy, I would like to orient you first about it with a map of the Amalfi Coast.

Why? Because it can be a bit confusing for first-time travellers.. The Amalfi Coast is actually made up of 13 villages, or what they call the “13 Pearls of the Amalfi”. The most popular among them are Positano (which I visited back in 2011), Ravello and Amalfi.

The Amalfi coast is basically the area from Vietri sul Mare at the right near Salerno all the way to Positano on the left. All the other villages of the Amalfi coast are scattered along the way and I highly recommend driving along the entire coast. The views are breathtaking although it can be a bit dizzying with the winding roads.

By DJ Yabis – Full Story at Dream Euro Trip | 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,

Dolly

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 grew..in 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,

Dolly

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