food, travel, photography, friends, life

The Amalfi Coast

We left Rome with a quick 1hr train ride to Naples where we had a transfer ready to take us down the zig zag path to Amalfi. It was a busy Sunday afternoon so instead of the freeway we took the route through Sorrento, Positano, Priano and then Amalfi. Once we arrived at our hotel, after this two hour road trip, we were exhausted and so happy to finally be at a hotel and not still going left, right, left, right. Lucky our hotel was directly on the port so we did not have to walk far to find it. Our suite had the best view as you can see, not to mention 4m ceilings and an extra two single beds just in case we wanted a break from each other, I suppose!

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We did not waste time taking a look around the main square and sussing out the restaurants for lunch. We noticed immediately that masses of people were lining up to drink and wash their hands from these small spouts of water. We did not try it straight away until we asked around that it was yes drinkable and extremely cold, most probably spring water, good on the hot days.

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The town was extra busy on this Sunday, more than expected on a weekend due to it being St Peter’s day and therefore tourists and locals had come to see the grand church overlooking the town. It is unlike other churches we have seen in Italy but reminds me of churches in Marseille with a slightly Marrakesh influence in the detailing and design. It is no wonder so many people come to take photos in front, it is incredible.

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We chose one of the many restaurants off the main square overlooking the ‘fountain’ and church and did not hesitate to order pizza and pasta. Chris got a simple napolitana pizza with salami which was again delicious with its soft and thin base.

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From my last trip to the Amalfi Coast, which I learnt how good simple pasta was, I have since become obsessed with aglio olio, so that is just what I had. The WHOLE plate. In my defence I did stop half way…..but then I had a strand here and a strand there and then it was all gone. Wooops. Well at least I enjoyed every, single, bite.

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Although we were full there is always room for gelato. Plus with gelaterias every two shops it is basically calling you “eat me, eat me, eat me”. Okay! I got blood orange sorbet and Chris had lemon sorbet.

Well a tad disappointing as these sorbets were so sweet we could barely eat them, and we left them to melt on our balcony.

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We went for a stroll before dinner to look at the town, from a different angle. It is so beautiful and peaceful along the coast at night, which is the opposite to the roads that go inland.

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These roads are blossoming with people, restaurants, singers trying to make a few dollars and of course the tourist shop with lemon merchandise everywhere.

We just picked a restaurant for dinner but it was not fantastic, or worth mentioning, not because it was bad, but because overall we had unforgettable food in the Amalfi and there is no point mentioning ‘okay’ food to you guys. But for the record I had Antipasti di mare, ‘seafood salad’ and Chris had Bolognaise.

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DAY2

Monday morning I was up bright an early ready to claim my stake on the beach. The day before it was St Peter’s day so Amalfi was PACKED. There was no space on the beach whatsoever and because it was now school holidays I had no idea what to expect on the Monday. So I went down bright an early, at 9am, pastry in hand, ready to get a good spot…..well no fear, it was a quiet day in Amalfi and the beach did not even get half full.

As I left early I enjoyed breakfast on the beach with my favourite Italian pastry, sfogliatelle. It is very crisp pastry in the shape of a shell with ricotta and orange peel piped inside. ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS. After half the pastry I was getting full and I realised I should not have gotten the biggest one I could find, but I would not let this beauty go to waste, so I finished it. I’m on holidays, I’ll burn it off when I get back to Sydney, our motto for the whole trip.

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By 1pm we were getting hot and hungry so we left the beach to get some lunch. Again we tried a different restaurant off the main square as it was convenient and quite busy. Chris had a delicious pasta with fresh tomato and parmesan. Simple and delicious.

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I ordered smoked mozzarella baked in lemon leaves and a salad. The salad was so small it was a joke and the ‘baked mozzarella’ was cold. I could not believe it. I sent it back but they did not accept it. Then they came out with a plate of overdone melted mozzarella, even though all my utensils had been removed. It was still terrible and a pathetic attempt to rectify this. Correct me if I am wrong but if you read ‘baked’ would you not expect baked?

After lunch we did not feel like more sun and beach, as it gets quite hot, even with the crystal blue water to cool you off. Maybe it is also the lack of sand and plethora of hot stones that slightly hinders the experience, a truly European beach! Well I am Aussie and do very much like my soft, non feet hurting sand. So we went back to the hotel to rest before more world cup games.

We had been doing the cheap thing and watching a television outside restaurant Pizza Duomo with many others, but tonight we did not want to wait 2 hours for the game to end to eat so we nabbed one of the last tables outside and enjoyed dinner while watching the game. GOOD MOVE. Dinner was so much better than any meal we had had so far in Amalfi. I had sole cooked in a lemon butter sauce with mash and Chris had an Argentinian steak. No pizza and pasta here tonight!

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‘A’ happy couple.

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They also passed around some Amalfi lemons which permeate the strongest, most refreshing fragrance. It is obvious why lemons are so famous in the Amalfi, they are ‘real’ lemons.

DAY 3

Our  day trip to Positano, one of my favourite places in the whole wide world. It is a beautiful town with excellent food and a less touristy feel than Amalfi. We slept in so caught the ferry at 10:30. Once we got there we had a coffee while we caught up on skype with the family, did I mention our hotel in amalfi did NOT have wifi, how ridiculous is that in this day in age.

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When you see these houses you think to yourself what an amazing place it would be to live. Yes I would agree, absolutely a beautiful view with tranquil surroundings, not to mention the nicest people.

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This is what I have been looking forward to. This view, exactly like this. After standing, staring and admiring, we enjoyed free wifi at a coffee shop, skyped the family then headed to the port to find the boat with the red fish.

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Not just any red fish, but the Da Adolfo red fish, full determination of getting a table without a reservation.

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If you know me you will know that I HATE boats. Despise, shiver with fear. Yes I did catch the ferry service, but they are large and not catamarans, which I find much worse. So the little boat to Da Adolfo was at first scary but the water is calm and the boat does not go too fast so I will admit it, I enjoyed the boat ride. I enjoyed the fresh air, I enjoyed watching the houses on the cliff face as we moved along, but most of all I enjoyed seeing that little restaurant in the distance which made me smile, cheek to cheek.

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As this was one of my favourite meals last time I was in this neck of the woods it would be rude of me not to share such an incredible experience with Chris. I love it so much I have a picture blown up on the wall of my kitchen, reminding me of this place.

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What more could you ask for, a simple blackboard menu sitting on the rocks, chairs and tables on the gravel floor overlooking the beach. You are eating incredible food in what is almost your own private beach, no cars here, only a boat service on the hour.

Our luck is unbelievable, we got the last free table, again. I ran to the board to see if items I had last time were still here. YES. We will be having prawns for entrée, sautéed in chilli, salt and pepper. I will have the lobster spaghetti and Chris the spaghetti with pippies for main and all washed down with a bottle of Greco di tufo wine.

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What doesn’t look good about these dishes.

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Impressive much? Once I took all the meat out and mixed it around the flavours of cherry tomato, garlic, oil, lobster were having a party in my mouth, literally. Perfection…..so Trish says

Chris on the other hand thinks his pipis in aglio olio with a touch of parley is the clear winner…..well maybe. It is all so good.

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This is it. The best restaurant in Positano/Amalfi/Italy. This may be because we did not stop talking about THAT lunch all night, and all the next day too. You could not fault an experience like that.

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We found it back to Amalfi, sadly, and watched some more World cup on the TV’s at Pizza Duomo. It was already full so we decided to get dinner after instead and to try one of the restaurants overlooking the Amalfi beach.

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It was a beautiful view, I will not deny it. It is more peaceful than Positano as a lot of the town is set back behind the port rather than Positano where it is all on the water. This restaurant was called Silver Moon.

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Yes we did have more wine that night, we are on holidays, we are allowed.

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Dinner was more spaghetti, bolognaise this time, for Chris and I had a seafood risotto. Chris’ dish was nice, but we are still comparing back to that first pasta in Rome, the ragu which was on another level. My risotto again okay, but really its no lobster paella in Valencia, which still reins as the best rice dish I have had on the trip. Enjoyable and fresh but I felt it needed lemon and chilli as it was a little flat.

No dessert, just finishing our wine before a relaxing sleep.

DAY 4

Beach again, if we were going to get a tan at all on this trip this is the place to start it, and who can complain, our hotel is just across the road. Convenient much?

We decided today to try one of the private beach areas where deck chairs and an umbrella may be a little more expensive but there is food and drink service too. We actually went back to Silver moon ‘beach area’. I think the red is much nicer than the other blue umbrellas.

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We ordered pizza for lunch, but unfortunately it was not that great. The base was too hard and crusty and the flavours, not pow. We did spend the rest of the day relaxing here, I wrote, Chris enjoyed the free wifi and read, read, read.

Whilst using wifi we did look up good restaurants in Amalfi. There were a few options but some looked like they needed reservations. Our luck stikes again with Da Gemma where we got an early table, an in by out by. Usually I am not a big fan of these but we have not been having dessert recently so timing should be ok.

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The restaurant was situated behind the port in one of the main streets leading away from the beach, but on the first floor. It was so nice to overlook the street, people watch and see the sun set slowly over the town.

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Although we have been dining out every night not every night is at a fine dining restaurant. In Italy it has been mainly simple trattorias but every now and then it is a nice change.

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We decided to share an entrée and since we had not yet had a caprese salad we chose the trio plate. Tick. First was crumbed and fried mozzarella with tomato and basil. I was the impatient child and jumped right in, burning the roof of my mouth with the hot fillings…obviously all those cheese and tomato jaffles as a kid did not teach me to wait. Next, at the end was a gazpacho like cold soup with aerated mozzarella cream. Nice, an unexpected style but captured the flavours well. Lastly the true Caprese with bright red, juicy tomatoes and delicious mozzarella. mmmmmmm

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I decided to try the seafood risotto again, well crab risotto since it was made with a lemon base. BEST MOVE. It was so delicious, so aromatic, fresh, rich, al dente and way too much food but who cares, it was too good to leave so I had to finish it. That good! gemma5

Chris was also extremely satisfied with his ragu. As you can see, true ragu style, cooked for hours, decadent and flavoursome. It even came with a nest of parmesan, which impressed us.

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We enjoyed our dinner very much and were happy to leave by 8:30 as we could not eat anymore, not even with a second stomach for dessert, nor would we want to ruin the flavours in our mouths at that moment.

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DAY 5

You just cannot keep us away. We did it again. Positano and Da Adoldo although this time we booked, it was a Thursday so we thought it may get a tad busy closer to the weekend.

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We were correct. We missed the first boat as people scrambled to claim the limited seats. I was not going to fight with some of these enthusiastic people, so we patiently waited for the next one. We all arrived at nearly the same time anyways as our boat was faster. It was incredibly busy. So many people being turned away and I thanked my lucky starts we thought to book. People without a table could go back to Positano or wait at this little beach until one became available. Not a good position to be in if you were hungry, as we were.

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We decided on two entrees this time. The prawns of course and baked mozzarella in lemon leaves, proper baked mozzarella, not cold mozzarella like that stupid restaurant in Amalfi, this place is the real deal here.

The mozzarella leaves some of its oils on the leaves, with juice that are perfect to be soaked up with bread. It is like a creamy, lemony, smokey flavour that just reminds me of Positano.

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I will agree with Chris now, and say it publicly, the spaghetti with pipis was the better spaghetti. We enjoyed it so much we actually did consider getting one more plate to share, just so they would not think badly of us, being pigs you know. We contemplated and did wait to see if we actually could. In the end our stomachs caught up with our eyes and we could not eat any more.

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Thank you very much Da Adolfo, it has been sooooo great. We will be back for sure in the near future. As this was our last day before heading back to Rome we knew we this was our last supper for this trip. We sailed away knowing we had eaten the best dish, at the best restaurant in all of the Amalfi Coast and without a doubt the best meal on our whole trip. This is an easy question to answer as every day around meal time we kept saying to each other “Just take me to Da Adolfo for lunch” “Let’s just fly back to Da Adolfo”. I do not think a day went by that we did not want to go back just once more for that amazing dish.

I do make a lot of fresh pasta at home and always do an aglio olio base so once this trip is over I am experimenting with pipis. Watch out Da Afolfo!

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The small cobbled streets of Positano get more colourful and picturesque as you walk around. There is never a dull corner, even the most simple of walls, in its context, is lovely.

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Bye bye Positano, until next time.

It was like Groundhog day as we ended up at Silver Moon for dinner. The beach was not so silent but amusing none the less. There were a group of boys sitting, eating pizza then spent at least 20 minutes throwing stones trying to hit signs in the water.

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Last time we were here we saw a girl having the salt and pepper squid and thought we must try that next time, so entrée was decided.

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I was not as hungry as I was last time so only had a simple fish fillet with green vegies while Chris yet again had the bolognaise.

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Our final day in the Amalfi was a perfect day in our eyes. This part of the trip has been the first spot we could just relax, do absolutely nothing. We would not be missing out on something, fighting cues or catching bus and train to get to one location. Life here was simple, easy, carefree.

Although I do love it here I do also love city life. I miss walking streets full of people, I do love shopping and aimlessly walking around taking in the city. So it wasn’t all sad when we got the transfer to Naples. I was nearly sick as it was without a doubt the windiest road possible, but arriving back in Rome made me feel reenergized and ready for the more.

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