Tramonti, an amazing hidden jewel

Tramonti is only about 12km from Amalfi and it is on the mountain road connecting Amalfi to the motorway at Angri, so over recent years I have driven past Tramonti many times. My only visits have been with friends to an excellent pizzeria.

Well, recently we have had a much closer look and indeed exploration. I discovered for instance that Tramonti is actually made up of several small towns (13 I think) dotted around the hills of the main town. I know that whilst so far the area is very sleepy and many of the residents work on the land, it is likely to experience a property expansion in the near future for these reasons;

  1. There is a local government plan to construct a link using a cable car between the famous Amalfi coastline and the Naples -Salerno motorway, to make access to the coastal areas much easier, and
  2. The current land in the coastal areas (all the way from Salerno to Positano) is under massive pressure for new housing and/or hotels, so the Tramonti area is a likely candidate for development land at a reasonable cost.

So as we explored and eventually found our new property in Polvica, and just up the road we also found a fantastic restaurant called Trattoria San Francisco. A local friend introduced us to the young couple Pamela and Francesco who run the place and the food is fantastic. They are part of the Slow Food movement and most of the food they serve is locally produced. But the real discovery for me of this wonderful place is that they have a beer made for them locally and the beer is GREAT!!!!

We have eaten there twice already and we will visit again for sure!!!!

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Some top places to visit in Amalfi

Bar Masaniello Simply the best bar in Amalfi if not the world (ok ok I am biased, I love the place). Indoor and outdoor seating, free wifi and the best selection of beer in the town without any doubt. Service is great and very friendly and the food is also really good, no rip offs here. Good music always to listen too and sometimes live music in the evenings

Boat Museum Situated right next to Masaniello, this place is quietly amazing. Few visitors will know the history, Amalfi was one of four Italian maritime States. The compass was (perhaps) invented here and the boat museum is located where they used to manufacture the boats! Well worth a 30 minute wander out of the sun

Hotel Aurora gardens You don’t need to be staying in the hotel to go and admire the wonderful terrace gardens and sit down for a happy hour or so looking out over the harbour. Good selection of beer and wine plus cocktails and tasty sandwiches. WHAT a view

Hotel Luna Convent Cloister. This hotel building dates from the 1200s (in parts) and has been managed by the Barbaro family for more than 200 years. The amazing cloister dates from the 1200s too and is well worth a visit and a gentle cup of tea. Living history

Paper Museum Amalfi still makes paper and this lovely Museum gives you a taste of the old times, methods and traditions. Lovely place

Panza Pasticceria The Panza family owns several activities in Amalfi and the most famous is this lovely old bar. You can sit outside right next to the cathedral steps and enjoy excellent coffee and home-made cakes in the sun

La Tonnarella If you wanna eat in this town then there are several excellent restaurants. But if you want a unique eating experience then try this place. You need to book (your hotel can do that for you) and the food price includes the water taxi to and from the beach eating place which is about a 15 minute ride from Amalfi centre. Stunning place and food and experience

Paper shop This shop sells all sorts of articles and is specialised in hand made paper, great for gifts to take home to friends and family

Lacoste and Colmar shop Wonderful shop in the main street with a good selection of branded clothes including these 2 great marques

A week takeover of the lovely Aurora Hotel, Amalfi. October 20-27th 2018

Ok so here is the master plan for the hotel so far:

  1. I have asked her indoors if I can book the whole hotel PLUS the 3 apartments for the whole week, and (so far so good) she said yes. Poor woman. This event is by personal invitation only and is NOT open to the general public BUT we do plan to run similar events in the future.
  2. I therefore have 15 rooms in the hotel to host my “guests”, plus the 3 apartments if required.
  3. My idea is to offer the lucky chosen few an “all-in package price” for the week to include almost everything, B&B plus some happy hours and even some meals too.
  4. I am looking to organise a wide range of activities, events and visits for the week and everyone will be able to select say 3 activities. Additional events (if we can arrange them) will be charged but more or less at cost.
  5. I will rent a minibus for the week so that we can provide all local transport free. I suggest that you try to come either by motorbike (free safe parking under the hotel) or by public transport, cos a car will cost you about 30 Euro per dayfor parking!!! From Roma the best way is train to Salerno (2 hours door to door) and then either bus, ferry or minibus to Amalfi centre. The hotel is then only a 10 minute stroll.
  6. I need to plan carefully so I need your yes or no asap please and I will then ask you for a non-refundable deposit for every room, to ensure that you will really come.
  7. We will organise trips to Pompei, Caserta, Thermal Baths and Underground Naples for sure. Other activities will be organised depending on the weather we have that week, for instance a boat trip and motorcycle testing. My Raptor 700 Quad and TMax 530 will be available.

More to follow very soon, watch this space………

A special dinner in a truly amazing place…

Have a glance at some of these pictures: http://www.ristorantelatonnarella.com/photo-gallery/

This restaurant is just fifteen minutes boat ride away from Amalfi, and the boat ride is included in the price of the meal. When you book a table they tell you where and at what time to meet the boat, and they were waiting for us at 20.30 prompt on the Amalfi quayside. We enjoyed a lovely boat ride of about 15 minutes up the coast from Amalfi to Conca dei Marini. This restaurant can be reached by foot from Conca dei Marini but it is some 400 steps down from the road and of course 400 steps back up again, so much nicer and easier to travel by boat!

The setting is wonderful and the tables are literally on the beach in what feels like a film set, with just a few surrounding houses. We were very warmly welcomed with a glass of cold wine and we decided to ditch the menus and take the suggested courses of spaghetti with courgettes (zucchini) followed by fresh fish and salad, plus some house white wine. This is what the locals do and the fish is always whatever they caught, so is guaranteed fresh.

Goodness, this was certainly an excellent idea as the food was out of this world good, as was the white wine, the service and the stunning atmoshere with just the sea to listen to.

DO NOT MISS THIS EXPERIENCE when you visit the Amalfi coast, I am sure that your hotel front desk can make the booking for you if your Italian is not so good.

Call or text or whatsapp me on +39 333 8153190 or email me on simon.f@spirometry.com.

The stunning beauty of Sicily by motorbike…

The word Sicily evokes a range of thoughts and emotions in most travellers. Most of us know something of its amazing history which dates back to the Greeks and continues through Roman, Norman, Islamic and Byzantine periods up to it becoming part of the Italian state only some 150 years ago. The word Mafia is invariably associated with Sicily and this evokes uncertainty and fear. Plus Sicily is not so near to mainland Italy, we took an overnight ferry from Naples.

So for a combination of reasons Sicily tends to be under explored and relatively unknown. Yet this island offers so much to explore and so much history to discover that it really is worth a visit. Recently I went over for a 4-day trip by motorbike with a group of friends and we packed a lot into a short time. These photos show some of the beauty and I will seek to make a more detailed descrition of our route and itinerary upon request.

segesta teatro greco
segesta teatro greco
segesta teatro greco
segesta teatro greco
segesta teatro greco
segesta teatro greco
ficuzza - casino di caccia dei borboni
ficuzza – casino di caccia dei borboni
l'abbazia - la chiesa
l’abbazia – la chiesa
l'abbazia
l’abbazia
l'abbazia - la tenuta
l’abbazia – la tenuta
l'abbazia - la chiesa
l’abbazia – la chiesa
l'abbazia - la chiesa
l’abbazia – la chiesa
cappella di s. rosalia
cappella di s. rosalia
sala lettura
sala lettura
sala lettura
sala lettura
chiostro
chiostro
chiostro
chiostro
crociera - chiostro
crociera – chiostro
refettorio
refettorio
abbazia cena conventuale
abbazia cena conventuale
abbazia di s. maria al bosco contessa entellina
abbazia di s. maria al bosco contessa entellina
selinunte
selinunte
selinunte
selinunte
selinunte
selinunte
selinunte
selinunte
selinunte
selinunte
selinunte
selinunte

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Getting to know the beauty of Amalfi OUT of season, what a discovery…..

Everyone knows about Amalfi and the amazing Amalfi coast, even those who have never visited have surely read about it and dreamed of visiting. Words come to mind like the Cathedral, the island of Capri, great food and hospitality, limoncello, wonderful wine, olive oil, Ibsen (the Swedish writer) and Wagner, and stunning tiles and porcelain from nearby Vietri.

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But Amalfi also brings to mind expensive, very hot, crowded and heavy traffic (all true in June thro’ September, the main tourist season).

Well I have recently discovered a stunning compromise: Amalfi out of season.

I have visited Amalfi perhaps 30 times over the past 2 years, in general for a weekend but also for New Year and Easter and I am getting to know her better and better.DSCN1198 She reveals her beauty slowly and gradually but she also suprises you frequently. In the summer the sea and the sun are in charge, out of season when Amalfi has only its 3,000 ish residents it is much easier to explore her as during the season the population grows to more than 60,000 from all over the world.

The food is wonderful and the people very friendly, although the town gets a bit quiet as many businesses close down for some well earned rest and holiday. Many old and traditional businesses still survive in and around the town and many are passed down through the family. For instance you can find wine makers, lemon growers, olive growers and wine makers, bread makers and many many more activities and in general you can visit them easily out of season and even have a guided tour, the pictures below show a local bread “factory” run by a family and the 90 year old Gran is still in charge (not the one pictured here of course)!!.

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Would you like to see, taste and purchase some excellent wine??

This amazing and (relatively) unknown wine producer was founded in 1890 and the same family still makes the wine, the fourth generation are now in charge. Three brothers run the show and we recently visited and met with Raffaele, one of these three brothers. He showed us round their lovely winery and we tasted several of the wines while he described some of the  history (for more see http://www.iovine.eu/). Production now exceeds 1 million bottles of wine per year!

Wow such history..
Wow such history..
Iovine vini
Iovine vini

We purchased a few cases of wine at wonderful prices and this place is really well worth a visit. No appointment is required but would be sensible if the visitors need some help with translation. Great place and wines, lovely people, not to be missed.

So you want to eat well and pay little? Meet Franco

You would like to eat some excellent fresh food. Fancy fish? Or pizza. Or some of the best vegetables I have ever tasted. In a modest place where the owner is a wonderful host, understands English perfectly and should really be on the stage. This eating house is on the coast near Naples.

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The location is very well known to the American and NATO military as the NATO base is only a few kilometres away, hence his English. Pizzeria Lucrino has only about 10 tables plus a very active take away service mainly in the summer months. The food they produce is a mix of local veg (and fruit), wonderful pizza Napoli style (so quite filling), local and very fresh fish and sea food plus very tasty pasta dishes too so really there is something for all tastes.

NOT expensive at all (typically between 10 and 15 Euro per head) and great fun listening to the various languages, the Pizzeria Lucrino is really well worth a visit and is open more or less always.

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A few helpful hints for visitors to Roma, the Eternal City

Some general points.

  • The spring and autumn seasons are usually warm in Roma so wear light materials (cotton) but bear in mind that you must be covered to enter St Peters and the Vatican City, as well as most churches. Light showers are possible. Summer is hot and sometimes very hot.
  • Roma has a large population of gypsies and petty criminals and pickpockets. Be aware that tourists are the easiest targets so be careful and never carry loads of cash. Avoid large handbags and wear bags on your front (where you can see them) and not on your back.
  • If a child or group of children gather round you with newspapers or maps then SHOUT AND MOVE AWAY. They are very talented and fast, while they push against you asking for money they move unseen under cover of the newspapers and very quickly take your bags/money or whatever.
  • Always ask the hotel to help you with bookings, taxis, map of the city etc. One excellent taxi service I use is 06 5551, the biggest is 06 3570. Taxis to and from the airport can be prebooked and the rate is fixed, ask your hotel reception for details.
  • Bars have several prices for a coffee: the lowest price is standing at the bar, you pay more if you sit at a table and more again if you sit at an outside table. Prices should be clearly shown.

Shopping.

  • Window shopping: Via Condotti and all of the area around the Spanish Steps where you will find Gucci, Armani, Valentino, Fendi and all of the expensive brands.
  • Buying: Clothes, bags, leather goods etc in Via del Corso, Via Nazionale and Via del Tritone (Benetton, Rinascente).

Sights to see.

  • Piazza Navona, Piazza del Popolo, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, St Peters Church and the Vatican City (a wonderful view of Roma can be had from the top of St Peters church but the lift only takes you halfway up so you must be fairly fit), Colosseum and Roman Forum, Circo Massimo, Campidoglio, Pantheon and sooooo many more.

A few places to eat (note that you generally eat well in most of Roma and indeed Italy, these are just a few places I know). Eating times are a little later than the UK but not as late as Spain so typically lunch between 13-00 and 15.00, dinner from 20.00 onwards.

  • Excellent pasta, pizza and meat at a very fair price: Disco Volante, Via Alessandria 50, Porta Pia area tel 06 44249849. Ask for Mimmo or Ignazio as they both speak excellent English. They have good reviews on Trip Advisor and plenty of seating inside, plus in the summer 20ish places outside.
  • Excellent pasta and meat dishes in the centre very close to the Roman Forum, Trattoria Romana, Via Madonna di Monti next to Via Cavour, tel 06 4745325. Small family run business with only a few tables so book and get there early and you will need a guide book or some basic Italian. Meat is the speciality and is wonderful.
  • Fairly posh place in centre but not too expensive, Roof Garden on the top floor at Hotel Bernini Bristol tel 06 488931 see http://www.berninibristol.com then Roma.
  • Best place to eat in Roma is La Pergola at the Hotel Cavalieri Hilton roof garden, the chef is Hans Beck and must be booked well in advance, needless to say very expensive but worth the experience. See Hilton web site.

Hope this helps!!