Thursday, August 11, 2011

My Big Fat Amalfi Vacation

Heaven on earth - Ravello on the Amalfi Coast

In August of 2008 I returned to Italy after many years away.  I hadn't flown transcontinental in quite some time and, the day before my flight, I was a nervous wreck.  I had a fear of flying.  I had been to a psychic a few months prior to my trip.  I hadn't mentioned the trip when I saw her because it hadn't been scheduled yet.  Out of the blue, Anne Bradshaw (the psychic) called me.  "Your spirit is hovering," she said.  She never wants you to volunteer information so I just said, "Huh?"  This sounds like something out of a bad movie but she said, "I see you flying over water.  Are you going to Greece? No, no - it's Italy - You're going to Italy and you're afraid your plane is going to crash."  I told her that was it.

"You're going to have an amazing time and your plane isn't going to crash," she continued.  "Are you going to a monastery?  Or a convent?"  I told her I was staying at the Hotel Luna Convento - which had been a convent.  "Your room is beautiful with a stunning view of the Mediterranean.  I smell food.  Your room has a balcony right above the restaurant a floor below.  But it's not an overwhelming smell - just pleasant wafts of delicious foods from time to time."

View from my Balcony - sure enough the restaurant was just below

The ceiling of my room

My room with the shutters closed to keep it cool

More hand painted frescos on the walls

Even the bathroom was gorgeous!

Anne wasn't kidding - the view of the Mediterranean was spectacular from my balcony

The pool was glorious and you could jump into the Mediterranean if you tired of the pool

"You're going to meet a man who will change your life," Anne told me.  "He's going to have an enormous impact on you."  I couldn't imagine who this guy would be, but I found out soon after I arrived.  He was Vincenzino, with whom I took an intensive cooking class, one-on-one.  He picked me up at the hotel and the first thing he did was take me to the local market to pick up supplies.  The market was just a small storefront that was no bigger than 9 feet by 12 feet.

We picked up fresh anchovies at the tiny market

Vincenzino on his balcony in Ravello on the Amalfi Coast

It was Vincenzino who taught me to shop each day for that evening's dinner.  He opened his refridgerator to illustrate his point.  There was absolutely nothing in it.  As I've posted before, when I asked Vincenzino where he kept his teryaki sauce and other essentials like mayonaisse, mustard, Twinkies (just kidding) and the like, he told me to let the ingredients be the focal point.  When food is fresh there's no need to mask its flavor.  I've got the shopping every day part down, but my fridge is still filled with those condiments - but I'm working on it!

The Spectacular view from Vincenzino's

This is Positano - I took this picture on the ferry going to Carpi

I will do future postings on the Amalfi Coast.  It is heaven on earth and I urge you to go there - especially in the summer months.  And even if you're not an avid cook, taking a cooking class in foreign lands is a great way to get to know the area and its customs.  You also eat everything you cook - so have a light breakfast!

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