Sadly we left the olive fields of Sicily to head to the lemon and orange groves of Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast. I think all of us would have stayed in Sicily for longer – so much to see and do, plus amazing food. If you happen to have a chance to go to Sicily, definitely stay longer.
The Amalfi Coast was another place none of us had been before. This is the land of lemoncello – a liquor made from all of the fresh lemons grown in the area. It is in the many shops on almost every street, as well as in cute trucks parked on the roadways.
We flew from Sicily to Naples and got a ride down to Sorrento. We opted not to have a car for this week. Instead of driving the Amalfi Coast ourselves, we booked a driver to take us for the day, which was a good call. The roads are narrow and windy and you can’t believe the huge buses that eek their way around the corners and through this villages – it is crazy!! Plus, everyone was able to enjoy the views which were incredible!! Be prepared for a long day – we were gone 8 hours – a long day for all of us.
It truly was a beautiful setting. Villages hang onto the coast – it’s a wonder how they ever built these towns. We went to the picturesque town of Poisitano where the pathway leads you down to the waterfront and you can look up to see the colorful houses hanging above you.
Amalfi was perched right at the water’s edge and had a beautiful church. Ravello was very different in that it was at the top of the mountain. There was a quaint town square with paths winding through the town. My parents and I visited the Villa Rufolo that had beautiful gardens and incredible views. The girls were pretty tired by this time, but some gelato always seems to perk them up.
We all decided we were glad we had seen the Amalfi Coast, but we would definitely not want to be there in the summer time when you would be stuck in bumper to bumper traffic and wandering the towns filled with tourists. This was the right season to go.
We had an amazing lunch at Trattoria Ciccio along the way. We wouldn’t have found this place without our driver and it was a treat. Perched up high, we sipped our prosecco while enjoying the view. Then dug into our delicious meal. We started with grilled squid that was out of this world and then shared spaghetti baked in parchment and a simple grilled fish – delicious.
The rest of our time in Sorrento we spent exploring the towns of Sant Agata and Sorrento. We thought about taking day trips to Capri or Ischia, but ferry schedules, weather and more long days didn’t really appeal to us this time around.
Sant Agata is small town with one main road. It was a short 10 minute walk from the house we were staying. Mom and Dad were able to find a small grocery store to stock us with some essentials like prosciutto, salami, cheese and bread. For such a small town, they had some excellent restaurants – Mimi’s and Lo Stuzzichino were both great!
We also spent a few days in Sorrento. We stayed quite high up on the mountain above Sorrento, but we walked all the way down from our place one day. It took about an hour, but was neat to see the old roads and also the houses along the way. We figured out the the bus that afternoon and got pretty good at taking it from our house – it was about a 20 minute ride.
In Sorrento we went to the port, perused the pedestrian street with all the little shops and gelatarias, sipped lemoncello, cappuccinos and prosecco. We had a great lunch at Zi n Tonio’s and my parents, Claire and I even took the little train ride around town. All in all, Sorrento was a good stop. We had some meltdowns and the girls needed some breaks, so my parents were really introduced to our life on the road – it’s not always easy.
The woman who owned the house where we stayed made beautiful pottery. She had a little studio downstairs and the girls had fun each painting a mug and saucer. These are the things that keep them entertained. I knew Europe was going to be a different part of the trip for us. We had spent so much time in places where we had animal encounters or beaches. Europe is a lot of historical site seeing, which let’s be honest, isn’t always interesting or fun for kids. So we are always on the hunt for kid friendly things to do like making pottery.
We also found a great place for a cooking class – Frattoria Terranova. Cooking classes are great for all ages and a fun way to spend time together…..with no fighting might I add 🙂 Frattoria Terranova was even higher up the mountain than where we were staying. An Agritourism that specializes in cooking classes. We had a blast! Francesca was a great chef. Her grandfather had purchased the land 100 years ago before there was really anything up there. People thought he was crazy. Her dad then had a vision to turn it into a farm and agritourism place to stay and take classes. This vision came to fruition and it is a labor of love with the whole family taking part.
We started the class with a demonstration on how to make mozzarella. So interesting to see. Claire and Lauren made their own batch and did a great job. They have their own cows at Trattoria Terranova and in high season they make fresh cheese every day. Farm to table is the best way to eat!
Pizza making is not as easy at it looks, we had some good laughs watching papa knead his dough and Dave making the craziest amoeba shaped pizza his first go around. But it all turned out great and tasted pretty good too. We laughed a lot and were proud of our creations. They treated us to delicious fresh bruschetta and an interesting twist on the traditional pizza – fried pizza dough with a little tomato sauce and basil on top.
We loved the people and atmosphere of Frattoria Terranova so much that we made dinner reservations for our last night and we weren’t disappointed. Eddie, our waiter, took care of us and ordered things for us to share as a table. There was so much food!!! Bruschetta with fresh tomatoes and tapenade, fried mozzarella balls with broccoli in the middle, deep friend cauliflower, grilled artichoke with broccoli and cauliflower, bean soup, fava beans with peas – and this was just the antipasta! For the main course the girls had homemade spaghetti with fresh tomatoes and basil while we had two grilled fish – swordfish and scorpion fish – a delicate white fish drizzled with olive oil, capers and tomatoes.
We weren’t done yet. Paolo brought out the biggest dessert platter we had ever seen – it was two stories high!! Fresh fruit on the bottom and a choice of different cakes and treats on the top. Too much!!
What a way to finish out time in Sorrento.
As I write this, we are on the road again. We picked up our van this morning to head to Tuscany. An oversight on my planning – I didn’t realize the drive was a little over 5 hours. I thought I had kept every drive to no longer than our trips to Tahoe – 3 1/2- 4 hours. Oops – and Dave is driving on his birthday. To make it a little easier on us, we rented a 9 passenger van, so we are barreling down the Italian freeway in the biggest van we’ve ever driven. But we all have our own seats and there is no luggage at our feet or bags stuffed around us, so hopefully we will make it up there with our sanity.