amalfi coast

At home in the Amalfi Coast - part 4

Ingredients of the dish: a movie director, the dolce vita, an opulent villa on the reef of the Amalfi coast. Stir well and enjoy the lifestyle that comes with it. Mare 1

Franco Zeffirelli, whose sumptuous directorial aesthetic matches his sense of personal extravagance and transgression, is an icon in Positano. From the early ‘70s until 2007, the acclaimed theatre and movie director would invite the most sought after Hollywood stars, artists, ballet dancers and musicians in his former house now turned into a very exclusive home away from home, Villa Tre Ville.

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When entering the VTV one can unquestionably leave all daily life pressures aside. There are many steps and, as through a catharsis, by going down each one of them, I had the clear sensation of getting nearer and nearer to a state of complete relaxation and escape from the world. Life on the Amalfi Coast is one of simple luxurious pleasures: waking up in a very large and most comfortable bed, breakfast on a sun-kissed balcony, unhurried dips in the sea (accessible from a private entrance). Villa Tre Ville has taken a leaf out of its book of Italian dolce far niente, with all the al fresco lounges, courteously mixed cocktails and Amalfi coast food delicatessen you’ll ever need. A 5 minutes drive away, the attractive village of Positano, where eccentric villas and lively shops propose loads of local allure. Villa Tre Ville’s prescription for tired feet and weary souls is smoothly effective: kick off those sandals, get your linen outfits rolling , and let those views work their soothing magic.

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Rule n.1: no rules apply - there’s no check-in nor check-out time, no fixed time for breakfast, as if guests of a very accommodating, generously indulgent host. The receptionist obliges with a speedy check-in, saving the showing-around and form-filling formalities for later. Luggage dumped, just grab what you need most: your swimming kit, no shoes involved. Run down to the pool. Surrounded by a beautifully manicured, luscious horizon, this infinity beauty may not be Olympian in size, but it is ideal for a leisurely swim and a cool-down.

Club Lounge 1The 12 suites, all overlooking one of the most picturesque glimpses of the Positano bay, are called after the famous guests that occupied them over the years: Bernstein, Nijinsky, Massine, Callas. The tribute to la Divina, known for her impressive vocal range, is to be found in the titles given to the Deluxe Superior La Turandot, La Norma, L’Aida and La Carmen, other than in the opulent junior suite La Tosca. Zeffirelli Miramare

The key word is secluded luxury, and a Martini of course. Before you know it, it's time for an aperitivo – beach attire is fine during the day, but you want to smarten up for evenings in this fashionable home. You can help yourself and your significant other with a drink in the opulent salon stunningly decorated with immaculate white ceramic from nearby Vietri sul Mare, before savouring the sun setting over Positano.

Lounge B10After a peek in the restaurant, a homey affair with an open kitchen resplendent in white and blue tiles, I sat outside at a table that let us watch evening descend on this slow-paced corner of the Amalfi Coast. (Top tip: in nice weather, ask for the table nearest the water’s edge.) An Italian delightful man, Ferdinando, the hotel director, fine in his beige linen suit, proposed the house ravioli. This ricotta cheese filled recommendation sounded (and proved to be) too delicious to skip.

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There was a buzz of international chatter, but the tables were sufficiently spread out to not have to eavesdrop on other people’s conversations. The terraced restaurants is not open to the public, just like a very stylish summer holiday home would be. Choosing from a menu of light starters, simple seasonal pasta dishes and grilled meat and fish (with the occasional addition of lemon zest & leaves) wasn’t easy – all the dishes I spotted coming out looked mouthwatering. A crunchy calamari on vegetable tartare and mint leaves picked in the garden was too good to be true, and the delizia al limone was fresh and creamy.

photo 2 Accompanied by a pale, local white wine, our dinner was well seasoned, nicely balanced and perfectly sized in portion.  Frankly, the idea of a hotel being desperately romantic generally makes me cringe. But this place hands out romance with hip Italian fashionable ease. And not a tacky violin player in sight. After a moonlit stroll alongside the coast as a digestivo, I hit #foodhappiness and thanked my ever Italian serendipity.

At home in the Amalfi Coast - part 3

And then you want to enjoy the view, or at least one of the best perspectives, since it’s all about breathtaking sights around here, in the Amalfi Coast. bruno1

The cosiest yet stunning foodie spot to do so, along with some good old fashioned people watching, is Bar Bruno. “It’s not a bar, it’s a restaurant” – insists Ornella, the owner, who runs this place, open 18 hours a day, along with her husband and her children, three handsome guys in their twenties who crack up jokes with the young ladies and are the epitome of the Neapolitan chap.

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Haut couture designer Giambattista Valli comes every day during the month of August, and when he’s not around, his friends are: Lee Radzivill (sister of Jacqueline Kennedy) as well as Hollywood stars of the likes of Meryl Streep are all returning customers. The peculiarity about this small place located on the public road is that it’s not only about Amalfi Coast dishes.

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Some people may fall for them, but others, who are seaching for fuss-free gastronomic purity, would like to enjoy some simple Italian standards, and that’s where they’d come, certain to be in for a treat.

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When I've been served marinated fillet of fish with oranges, vegetables, Parmesan cheese and rocket I couldn't believe my senses as I tasted the latter one. The rocket here grows as an erba spontanea (spontaneous herb), and is particularly bitter, almost peppery. Excellent on its own, it was a sublime indulgence in front of the wild horizon.

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And then there's Lemon. Definitely the king around here, you find it on top of your drink, inside out any kind of food, on granita (lemon slush), it’s transformed in candles, home & personal scents. I wouldn’t’ be surprised if people would even pray in front of it. Honestly, one never gets enough of it.

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Fillet of fish of the day & seafood au gratin on a bed of lemon leaves is one of the most audacious and well achieved food ideas I've seen around here these last days.bruno10

A gentle breeze welcomed the evening in, and the clouds layered with the sky. The Sfoglia alle Fragola, the signature dish of Bruno, is fragile and filled with antioxidants. Every meal seems effortless and successful. Maybe because of this lack of stress, that put me in a delightful state of #foodhappiness.

With love and the sea in front of my eyes,

Eleonora

At home in the Amalfi Coast - part 1

The tormented love story between the popular actress Anna Magnani and the intellectual movie director Roberto Rossellini was consumed at the outlet of a valley overlooking a tiny village called Furore that, with its 700 inhabintants, is part of the UNESCO world heritage. il-fiordo-di-furore-costa-d-amalfi-257

It's among the steps of this rural community that, in 1948, Rossellini set the shooting of the central episode of the film “L'amore”. Wild and overdramatic, Anna Magnani played the main character. It’s the story of a shepherd girl who becomes pregnant, convinced to be about to give birth to a divine being.

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For those of you who, after my tiny hints spread out from my Instagram account, have been wondering about where my next location would have been for my foodie adventures, well there you have it.

The Amalfi Coast, an amazingly meandering piece of coast where rocky clefts fall sheer onto the most pristine Mediterranea sea.

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Anna & Roberto (aka Magnani and Rossellini), tired after the day of film shooting, would go to have a meal at a tiny place overlooking the bay and its world-famous fjord, “da Bacco”.  Among the owner recollection is the memory of a furious (an adjective not to be attributed to the inhabitants of the village but, rather, to a state of mind) Anna throwing a dish right on the head of the celebrated director, who was splitting up with her over the passion for Swedish born actress Ingrid Bergman.

_MG_3717Of those dishes now it’s left nothing but a tradition, impeccably brought forward by the wise hands of Erminia Cuomo. This delightful lady is the wife of Furore’s well respected mayor Raffaele Ferraioli, who is known to be as very dedicated to his cause. Their children help run the business in a dreamy atmosphere that I couldn't imagine still existed in my adored Italy.

_MG_3468That's who I'd call an amazing character, one Rossellini would have loved to star in one of his movies. She was only 21 when she got married and took the reins of this incredible restaurant located on the hill of this village exploding with raw nature and unsurpassed tastes. This true lady of the kitchen doesn’t’ claim any gastronomic status, yet she’s just something else. Her humbleness and vivid generosity is the curtain to a universe of utter gastronomic delight.

_MG_3490She told me about the joys of cooking the "ndundero", a kind of homamade gnocchi which differs from it since the dough it's made with flour and ricotta (instead of potatoes). The perfect way to greet Santa Trofimena, the patron saint of the small Amalfi coast village of Minori. All over the south of Italy, celebrating the saint protector of any given town is a must. You'll see ceremonies, parades and religious processions. It's always interesting to have the opportunity to participate to one of these occasions, since the food abounds in the streets too. And there's no better way to get to know a population than by their foods, hands down!

_MG_3698Fish abounds in this area too, directly from sea to table. Hence not much decoration, just fresh crunchiness. Erminia cooked a seabass for me wrapped in a delightful transparent parchment paper tied with a lovely string. Not one plate is the same when this shy lady is around. There's no uniformity, no set style. So much personality. Every mouthful is just delicious.

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The tomatoes Erminia uses are protected by the Slow Food association, and her biscuits, well her biscuits... They were served to me dipped in a homemade red wine sauce called wine elixir: it's made with Aglianico wine, aromatic spices and accompanied by these truly amazing tozzetti biscuits. Typically from Tuscany, the original version has them with almonds but these ones were cooked with the most perfumed nuts, the amazing and protected type (as if animals in extinction), from Giffoni.

_MG_3780About this and a few others unique realities still existing in this fascinating land called Amalfi Coast I'm going to tell you about, in this following week filled with #foodhappiness, encounters, off the beaten track itineraries and the most fascinating stories. To find on my blog daily in 7 parts starting from today, in collaboration with Pasta Rummo_MG_3821With love from a room with a view.

Eleonora

photo credits @ Cibando

A night in Positano

Sooner or later, we all have been nurturing a dream where medieval towers overlooking the Mediterranean sea meet trouble-free states of mind. Or haven't we? Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset

The switch-off mode is immediate as I visited the Amalfi coast, where these long wished for dreams got surpassed by reality, especially during the absolutely somptuous night I spent at the hotel "Le Sirenuse", the boutique-styled gem of Positano. More than an hotel the place is truly another dimension. The glorious hospitality linked with a unique off-the-etiquette approach of its glamourous yet down-to-heart owners, Antonio & Carla Sersale, made for a delightful stay among friends, by way of gently disclosing doors that would have normally been accessible to locals only. Until today.

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This magical corner of Positano looks very much like a very private key to the secrets of living: here the triptych for excellence binding "luxe, calme and volupté" is topped by one of many glasses of well stirred Martini's, preferrably served on one of the numerous terraces overlooking the gulf of this spectacular island that is Positano.

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Yes, there's a pool, but not only. Enjoying the spa, designed by archistar Gae Aulenti, has been one of the highlights of my stay, as this movie by talented Poppy de Villeneuve shows, with breath-taking scenes capturing the enchanting scenario of the sorroundings.

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Back in the kitchen, fully equipped with copper elements, Tuscan native chef Matteo Temperini blends tremendously well the Mediterranean gastronomic heritance with highly skilled local product sourcing. Not only did he treat us to a lavish dinner, perfectly al fresco on a terrace enlightened by the moon and a few shy stars. The breakfast ceremony, which on holiday is to be consumed (compulsorily as part of a #foodhappiness state of mind!) as if time stops, was dotted by smells and tastes of unimaginable purity. I was happy to find the local buffalo yogurt provided by Casa Madaio,

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as well as a selection of signature breakfast delicacies from the Amalfi coast, ranging from the Capri Chocolate Cake through to the perfumed Sorrento lemon pie to the Babà , the epytome of Neapolitan bakery tradition. All prepared in an immaculate open kitchen. Just taste and see for yourself.

Luckily the whole place, which was Sersale's family summer palazzo turned into a hotel in 1951, is accessible to the general public for meals and spa treatments.  On our way back from what was a too short of a break, we couldn't help but going to the hip & chic hotel shop graciously run by Carla Sersale, the Emporio Le Sirenuse, and got ourselves the refinely scented Eau d'Italie, a fragrance originally created in honour of the hotel guests only and now widely sold around the world. For those who can smell it.

We then wondered around the area, finding delight in purchasing fresh products from Anna, picking the best anchovies from Delfino in Cetara and visiting Sorrento to pick some juicy lemons.

The moon is the same moon above you Aglow with its cool evening light But shining at night, in Positano, Never does it shine so bright

With #foodhappiness and love,

Eleonora