I've been home for a month and have been too busy wishing I was still in Italy to write about. I wrote part one of this story on the balcony of our villa while watching the Mediterranean sparkle in front of me. Now, I'm writing on a crisp New York September night. So not fair.
Our last week in Italy was filled with just as much adventure as the first. Our first week ended with our lovely hosts throwing us a pizza party. Our second week started with a relaxing day on another conca, enjoying the sun, the water, and Italy's finest beach bites. A trip to the beach is made even more enjoyable when restaurants boat you from the harbor directly to the rocky shoreline, all with the promise of eating lunch with them.
After our day at the beach, we wandered around the magical town of Amalfi, a magical tourist filled city on the shore with gelato on every corner and lemons the size of your head. It doesn't take long for you to consider packing your bags and staying forever. Charming food store offering Italian specialties are nestled between cafes, restaurants, and jewelry stores making it the perfect place to lose track of time.
One of the best days of our trip came the following day. We chartered a boat to take us down the coastline to Capri. Boy were we spoiled. The Amalfi coastline is nothing less than breathtaking. The only way to appreciate it is on the water. We sunbathed on the back of the boat, floated in the salty Mediterranean and worked up our appetite for lunch.
As we approached Capri, our boat anchored and we hopped into a dingy to get to shore. We stepped onto the dock and were awed by the sparkling water and crystal clear skies. We ate at Ristorante la Canzone del Mare: the song of the sea. I savored my linguini and clams while marveling at the view. There's truly no better place to have lunch.
After lunch we made a stop at the blue grotto, a hidden cave in the middle of the coast. We left our boat, sank down into a row boat and waited our turn to enter the grotto. Without any warning, a wave rushed us through the small opening to a view that you can only dream. The reflection of the sun in the water makes the water look emerald blue. Our captain paddled around the grotto and we sang "Volare" and listened to the echo off the rocks.
Even with our bellies full of pasta, we went for one last jump off the boat before heading home to enjoy our leftover pizza.
We spent the following day napping on the beach and then getting ready for a night in Ravello. Michael drove us to this charming small town for dinner and a jazz concert. We shopped before dinner and even snuck a peek at a wedding party leaving the church. We sipped our wine and walked through the small piazza to a historic concert venue overlooking the water and enjoyed a classic Italian jazz musician.
We woke up early the next morning to drive two hours to see Pompeii. We arrived at 9 am and already it was sweltering. Walking around, we noticed that not much has changed since 79 A.D. They had stores set up like a mall, a sauna in their fitness center and even"fast" food. Although it was the hottest day we experienced the whole trip, we learned a lot and once again worked up our appetite for lunch. Today, we would need it.
We returned to the car and took a short drive to a small family owned farm and restaurant that Michael insisted we eat at. And like every other time he recommended something, we fell in love. I opened the car door to see a lush garden patio with a long table set up for us. We sat around and were presented with homemade wine, olive oil, and bread. Everything here was truly farm to table with nearly everything being house made. I sipped merlot, dunked by focaccia in lemon olive oil and thought I died and went to heaven. But that wasn't even the tip of the iceberg. Course after course came to the table, each plate more flavorful with the next. We enjoyed Caprese salad, provolone with honey and walnuts, Eggplant Parmesan, "Fried Pizza," linguini with zucchini, and pappardelle with eggplant all before a dessert of chocolate cake. My eyes lit up from start to finish. I've never been so full and so happy.
On the way back to Furore, we stopped at a couple of the town along the coast. We gazed down the coast in Sorrento, Positano, shopped, ate more gelato, and then headed back to our back to our villa.
That night was Kevin and Cliona's last night before they headed back to Ireland. We all met for dinner at their hotel in Furore and miraculously I had room for dinner. I was glad I did. Their many boasted fresh flavors like lemon, shrimp, and rocket-perfect on a bed of house made pasta. We slowly sipped out wine to delay our goodbyes. Finally, the night ended. We hugged and said our see you soons and groggily headed home for sleep.
We went back to Amalfi the next day for more shopping and lunch by the beach. We were so stuffed from the day before that we managed to find the only restaurant with a whole page of salad options. I sat looking at the water, drinking Aperol spritz and enjoying my salad, and wishing this vacation didn't have to come to an and. Since my grandma and I can't go home without a sweet treat, we stopped in the local bakery for some Sfogliatella, or "Lobter Tail," the classic flaky Italian pastry.
Our last day was my grandma's birthday. We began our celebrations with paninis on the local beach in furore, a small conca framed by a bridge connecting two cliffs. Our last afternoon was nothing less than picturesque. My brothers and I passed the afternoon by jumping waves, floating and watching other sunbathers cliff dive. Tommy and my dad even worked up the courage to jump themselves. Danny and my mom spent the day collecting rocks and pieces of pottery washed ashore, desperate to take home a piece of paradise. As the afternoon came to a close, we begrudgingly walked up the steps, tears in our eyes, knowing this time tomorrow we would be on the plane.
We went home to change before dinner and headed back into Amalfi for dinner on the water at Lido Azzurro and more birthday celebrations. I enjoyed my last bowl of linguine, basked in my last glasses of wine, and watched the sun set on the Amalfi coast. After dinner, we made room for one last gelato cone before saying Arrivederci to Italia.