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Puglia or Amalfi Coast, Italy


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I'm taking a sailing vacation in the Aeolian Islands (off of Sicily) later this summer, and plan to add a few days to do some on-shore exploring. Am trying to decide among Puglia, the Amalfi Coast, and potentially trekking up to Tuscany. Any tips (dining or otherwise)? Does anyone know of any worthwhile cooking classes in any of those areas? I guess I'd consider Rome too, although it's lower on my list.

(Don, feel free to split this into separate threads if responses warrant it...)

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I'm taking a sailing vacation in the Aeolian Islands (off of Sicily) later this summer, and plan to add a few days to do some on-shore exploring. Am trying to decide among Puglia, the Amalfi Coast, and potentially trekking up to Tuscany. Any tips (dining or otherwise)? Does anyone know of any worthwhile cooking classes in any of those areas? I guess I'd consider Rome too, although it's lower on my list.

(Don, feel free to split this into separate threads if responses warrant it...)

I went to the amalfi coast (sorrento) a few years ago. Sorrento is lovely and and has some nices places to eat, I will have to check my notes for specif names. About half the time we picked places on a whim and ended up with great food.

My favorite excursion was to pompeii. It was huge and a great deal of it still being excacated, and you can explore around. There weren't very good food options though, my family wandered around and ended up eating a lousy cafteria meal. I recomend packing a lunch or a light snack.

Capri is sort of an oddity in that the sea level is a total ocean city/va beach kind of tourist trap, and then you take the funnicula up higher and it's full of expensive boutiques. The blue grotto is very cool.

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I went to the amalfi coast (sorrento) a few years ago. Sorrento is lovely and and has some nices places to eat, I will have to check my notes for specif names. About half the time we picked places on a whim and ended up with great food.

My favorite excursion was to pompeii. It was huge and a great deal of it still being excacated, and you can explore around. There weren't very good food options though, my family wandered around and ended up eating a lousy cafteria meal. I recomend packing a lunch or a light snack.

Capri is sort of an oddity in that the sea level is a total ocean city/va beach kind of tourist trap, and then you take the funnicula up higher and it's full of expensive boutiques. The blue grotto is very cool.

I think everyone that visits Pompeii eats at that nasty cafeteria. We did Pompeii and hike Vesuvius the same day, which is why I think that cafeteria has cornered the tourist market with arranged tours. I've also been to the Amalfi coast, Capri and Naples (as well as Rome and Florence). I'm generally a fan of southern Italian food (v. northern). Pizza in Naples is a must. Our friend, who was living there at the time, took us to his favorite haunts, including one that served seafood direct from the Bay of Naples. Unfortunately, it has been a while, so the names of the restaurants are gone from my head. Except the English Inn in Sorrento. We had a lovely pint of beer there after our long drive down from Napoli.

The Amalfi coast is beautiful. We drove down there from Naples, stopping in Vietri for a mid-morning treat of expresso and pastries (they aren't kidding about the rum in a rum bomb) and to shop for some beautiful pottery. The road winds along the coast. As we entered Sorrento, trees heavy with fresh lemons hung over the road with nets under them to catch the fruit. Limoncello is a regional drink and every establishment has its own version.

Capri was wonderful as well - the Blue Grotto was worth a visit. IIRC, there is a little food stand by the ferry docks that sells some famous specialty (ie. pastries of some sort). We took a high speed ferry from Naples to get there. We took a taxi up to the place where you could grab the funnicula up to Anacapri. There's a ruin at the top (and a cafeteria of course). I remember the views and the feral cats that were very used to people. We walked down from the funnicula's base to the ferry dock, stopping at a little restaurant that seemed to have a lot of locals going in. Little did we suspect from the front what a great view they had from their back seating area - basically a porch hanging off the hill looking out over the island and water. IIRC, we liked the food as well.

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The Amalfi coast is a jaw-dropper aesthetically speaking and crowd-wise as well. Definitely try to stay in a quieter sleepier town like Atrani if possible. Staying in the town of Amalfi or Positano would be my idea of hell.

Drink the lemoncello after a strenuous hike through the lemon groves.

Do not get your hair cut by Luigi the International Barber in Amalfi. The only thing he can say in English is "yes, I speak English". :lol:

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I'm taking a sailing vacation in the Aeolian Islands (off of Sicily) later this summer, and plan to add a few days to do some on-shore exploring. Am trying to decide among Puglia, the Amalfi Coast, and potentially trekking up to Tuscany. Any tips (dining or otherwise)? Does anyone know of any worthwhile cooking classes in any of those areas? I guess I'd consider Rome too, although it's lower on my list.

(Don, feel free to split this into separate threads if responses warrant it...)

Take me with you!!! I can fit in your carry-on ;-)

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Just bought a guide book ... am definitely leaning away from Rome or Florence, and toward Puglia, Amalfi, Naples, or Sicily. (Or some combination, depending on how much time I decide to take.)

And Scooter, you can totally come with :lol:

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I remember taking a bus ride up the coast of Amalfi. The hairpin turns were so tight you could only have one vehicle on the turn at a time and sometimes the bus would get very very close to the edge. You could often see straight down to jagged rocks below. Wow! A woman on the bus had some kind of nervous attack and had to get off, I don't know how she got back to her hotel.

Oh and food-wise other specialities besides the pizza (which is fabulous) is gelato. (A mid afternoon stop for gelato became mandatory) and also the fried zucchini blossoms.

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We did both the Amalfi Coast and Tuscany in a south-north trip about a year and a half ago. We stayed in Sorrento, and ventured out on a few day trips (including Capri). The highlight of the Amalfi coast was a dinner at Don Alfonso 1890, in Massa lubrense, a multi-course blowout, with phenomenal cooking, top notch and friendly service, and a wine cellar that must be toured for the setting as much as the wine. Sorrento was a nice, touristy but quiet setting, and we also had good dinners there, one at Ristorante Il Buco and another (the name of the restaurant escapes me, but it was primarily a seafood place) that was on the narrow road from the Piazza Tasso down to the docks.

We rented an apartment in Tuscany in a small village (Radicondoli), and ate lunches in restaurants during the day wherever we were at (Siena and Florence, mostly, but also San Gimignano). We then shopped at markets, butchers, etc., and did dinners everynight in our apartment, usually followed up by a gelato or espresso at the local cafe (one of only two places open after 8 PM in the village--the other was a pizzeria/restaurant). Cooking with great ingredients was the real highlight for us here--the food we went everywhere was very good, but this was a real joy. We did have great gelato in Siena and Florence.

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Recommended if you are in Sorrento, I Giardini di Cataldo, not a restaurant, but a series of citrus groves that you will see as you walk across two roads from the train station in the direction of the sea. They have a shop on the main road, but if you are there during daylight hours, you can walk through the 150 year-old lemon grove until you reach an opening in the canopy where the owners/farmers have set up a stand. I didn't know Limoncello and the like had DOC status, but they do here with the old Sorrento varietals of fruit, and the liqueurs, marmalades, and candies are all handmade.

The lemons here are really different - like a cross between Eureka and Meyer but more - so fragrant. I liked the mandarino better then the limon, but limon makes such nice cocktails, so both came back with us. The owner tucked a lemon into each bag for us, and this is one cut in half (please excuse our messy table)(and my camera's inability to focus). A lot has changed in 150 years.

post-3913-0-97477300-1370012565_thumb.jp

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