The Amalfi coast in Italy needs no introduction from me, suffice to say that it is one of the world’s most popular and beautiful tourist destinations. The coastline is dramatic and mediterranean gorgeous, beauty is everywhere you look and it is to be found both on and off the beaten path, on land and on water.
If however you don’t like crowds (like me) then my advice would be to definitely avoid the months of July and August. If you can’t as we couldn’t, then perhaps rather than be in Positano (as gorgeous as it is) base yourselves in one of the smaller and lesser known (but equally as stunning) towns or villages on the coast, or set back in the hinterland overlooking the coastline (see Solaria below for a tranquil beautiful get away from it all B & B), which leads me to a word of thanks to Emilio and his wife Angela.
One day when I felt an itch to explore the area further I ran into the Positano tourist office asking if anyone could help me locate a lemon grower, a cheese maker or any other farmer in the area. As fate would have it on that particular day I was led to Emilio Lucibello.
Emilio generously suggested I meet him up in a tiny hamlet called Tovere (only 7 kms from Amalfi) set back from the busy coast in a hinterland of green terraced gardens, lemon groves and small parcels of farm land overlooking the sea, and where his neighbours just happen to make some of the best cheese on the coast, supplying many of the restaurants in the area.
On our arrival a few days later we were warmly greeting by Emilio, Angela and their son Domenico whose kind hospitality included some of Angelia’s delicious homemade cake and sweet Italian coffee.
It is in this tiny hamlet surrounded by the scent of lemon trees and overlooking the mediterranean that they have restored an old farmhouse into a modern functioning and tranquil B&B, Solaria, only minutes from the coast but a world away from the crowds.
Thank you Emiio and Angela for your warm hospitality, and for your introduction to Gregorio, Carmela and Luigi who so kindly let us into their world of cheese making and allowed me to photograph them at work. I hope to see you all again one day soon.
All images © millie brown
Recommended Hotels, Pensione and B & B’s
I couldn’t have been more excited to hear the words ‘do you mind waiting 7 hours for me in Naples’! My sister was arriving from Australia and I from France, we were on our way to the Amalfi coast for 10 days. The gateway to this coastline is of course the historically beautiful and vibrant city of Naples.
Luggage locked in safely at the train station I hit the streets with my camera, beaming from ear to ear, a whole 30 minutes sleep under my belt from the night before, walking shoes on, cornetto and a strong coffee in my site!
Life is what happens in the streets of Naples; its noisy, colorful, and frenetic, people jump out for photo opportunities, invite you into their homes for coffee, show you their art and lead you to their special corners of the city. Nothing and nowhere is like Naples, and there is nowhere else I wanted to be for those 7 precious hours.
Fortunately we did manage to change our plans so we could spend a night in Naples at the end of our 10 days and I got to spend another few more gorgeous hours on these streets.
Thank you Naples for your special brand of beauty and all the Neapolitans who appear in these images, along with all the others who smiled, laughed, joked and shared a moment of their joy with me, I adored every single minute I spent with you.
All images Copyright Millie Brown
We arrived into Porto from our time in the Restonica Valley in time for sunset and dinner and left not long after a late lazy breakfast overlooking the marina the next morning.
All of us would have been more than happy to have stayed and explored everything that this part of the coast offers, however we needed to be in Calvi that night for our departure back to the mainland the next morning, and we wanted the day to enjoy and appreciate the less direct coastal road which had come highly recommended.
We weren’t disappointed, the drive more than made up for the quick exit, the views from this coast road from Porto to Calvi are nothing short of jaw droppingly beautiful, with no shortage of small quiet beaches to choose from for a picnic (not a very glamorous one mind you) lunch of, YES, more Corsican salami, brebis cheese, bread, olive oil and fig paste. Sitting on a little pebble beach off the beaten path overlooking the bluest of water I imagined not taking the plane the following day!
PORTO TO CALVI
We hit the outskirsts of Calvi and decided to continue onto l’ile Rousse before heading back to Calvi just in time for a quick pre-dinner walk up into the tiny cobbled streets of the historic citadelle where we enjoyed one of our best dinners on the island at ‘A Candella’. Spending an evening around the table in a Calvi village street overlooking the mediterranean, enjoying the best of Corsican produce and cooking while sipping on our last bottle of Corsican rosé was the perfect final evening on this magical and compelling island. Corsica, I want to know so much more of you, until next time…….
(Note, I would advise you if you can to arrive at A Candella early or make a reservation, we missed out on a table on the terrace overlooking the port), no complaints however!
Notre Dame des neiges stands in front of the ‘Aiguilles de Bavella‘ (Bavella needles, mountain peaks).
After a night spent in the charming village of Zonza and a wonderful dinner of wild boar we headed to the Aiguilles de Bavella and then north again further into the mountains to the town of Corte.
Farmed animals here are free to roam and feed themselves on the island’s wild chestnuts and other plants and island herbs, at the same time they are kept away from the olive tree which would make their meat too oily. This diet gives the meat its unique Corsican flavor. Breeding with the island’s wild boar is avoided by castrating the males and desexing the females. Here in the image above our stationary car was being used as a cool shady place for an afternoon nap by these very cute and friendly piglets.
The town of Corte situated in the center of the island, once the capital of independent Corsica and part of the Corsican Republic, headed by Pasquale Paoli in the 18th Century.
Jean Pierre Gaffori, leader of the resistance against Genoese rule in the 18th Century, looking very determined!
Image left; the house where Arrighi de Casanova (born 1778 Duke of Padua and a French diplomat and soldier in the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars) and another historic figure Joseph Napoleon Bonaparte, born 1708, King of Naples and Sicily and elder brother of Napoleon Bonaparte were born. Napoleon himself was born in Ajaccio. Image right; the Corsican flag.
In the mountains of Corsica it’s all about meat and cheese and they do them so very, very well. So well in fact that it led me to a mainland self imposed cheese ban for having eaten way too much of it on the island! (well intentioned but very short lived as are most of my self imposed disciplinary actions)!
Here at Felix Battiste’s hut (Bergerie de Melu) in the Restonica Valley you can taste some of the islands best brebis cheese. While the cheese is made down in the valley, Felix brings his sheep up to live with him (at approximately 1600m altitude) for the summer months. They share their home with Felix’s donkeys who are a practical necessity here in the mountains, returning to the valley each day with Felix to collect supplies for the hut. (The sheep were still down in the valley on the day we visited, the nights are still too cold for them in early June).
For most of the hike up I was thinking of fried cheese beignets after having read they were served in the mountain huts here, as well as an omelette au brocciu (brocciu being the soft Corsican cheese made with either goats milk or sheep’s milk), however on arrival I discovered they only prepared these dishes in the busier summer months. No complaints, the bread, cheese and salami combination was a perfect mountain lunch. (Felix’s cousin is responsible for the delicious salami).
This rugged, stunningly beautiful part of Corsica should not be missed, take the inland roads for their beauty but be prepared for some hairy driving! The road from Corte to the valley in particular is interesting in a scary kind of way, with the road wide enough for one way traffic it has a stream of two way traffic moving along it at sometimes ridiculously high speeds.
It is the beautiful mountain air, the stunning scenery, the authentic villages and their people, the relaxed pace of life, that make me want to buy that little plot of land bursting with olive trees and bleating goats, that would in turn provide me with all the cheese and oil that I could ever eat, and do all of it overlooking the blue sea on an island named Corsica.
….yes, there is a part 3, and possibly a part 4!!
all content © Millie Brown 2014