This morning before our cooking class we took an early stroll through the Rialto fish and farmers market, the variety was spectacular. Culinary inspiration at every turn! Our imaginations ran wild and by the time we put our aprons on and began to cook we were so ready and so excited to create and taste using the freshest ingredients we had seen in a long time.
After lunch at Villa Maria we made our way to the Villa Rufolo, whose ancient function was that of watch-tower. It sits on the piazza del Vescovado and contains a beautiful garden and view of the coast.
The Villa’s original construction dates from 1200AD. The most spectacular aspect is the overhanging garden terrace, that appears to float over the sea and is also where every year the Ravello Festival is celebrated. You can see the stage construction in our pictures.
Ravello is a spectacular, picturesque town in the hills just past the town of Amalfi. A must see in Ravello, offering the best views in all of the coast is Villa Cimbrone a historic building, dating back from at least the 11th century AD, although little of the original structure is now visible. The building was altered and extended, using a collection of salvaged architectural elements from other parts of Italy and elsewhere, by Ernest William Beckett (later Lord Grimthorpe), an English politician, in the early twentieth century.
The English inspired gardens in the villa are incredible and the views are so beautiful they seem unreal.
Lunch at La Conca del Sogno on the Amalfi Coast is spectacular!
La Conca del Sogno is located, on the Amalfi Coast between Capri and Positano, so it’s easily reachable by sea.
Our private boat docked a short distance from the cliff, housing the restaurant and overlooking the sea. The restaurant then sent a small shuttle boat to bring us to shore for lunch. The kitchen of La Conca del Sogno, expertly interpreted the daily fresh catch, that we were able to choose from big basins of sea water. The best thing on menu is whatever they suggest. We started with a nice glass of peaches in white wine, a refreshing and fresh Italian interpretation of Sangria. Lunch was spaghetti with zucchini, salt crusted snapper, lemon & pistachio profiteroles.
Yes, we are Living Eat, Pray, Love…we are eating and loving it and praying we loose 10 pounds when we get home!
La Conca del Sogno
Via Amerigo Vespucci, 25
Nerano – 80061
Massa Lubrense (NA)
Corte d’Aibo-Bologna is a charming farm inn and restaurant!
Located in the middle of the “Abbazia di Monteveglio” regional park, the area is plush with un-contaminated nature, vineyards, orchards and wheat fields. We spent a beautiful afternoon enjoying a multi-course, delicious lunch consisting of specialties typical of the area paired with organic wines produced on the farm.
After lunch we took a walk and everywhere we turned there was something fantastic growing on a vine or off a tree. Figs, zucchini, grapes to name a few. The farm “agriturismo” in addition to organic “biologici” wines also produces, grappa, nocino (a liquor made with walnuts), jams and balsamic vinegar.
If an afternoon doesn’t seem long enough and you want to spend the night or if lunch has you in need of a nap, rooms are available in an old restored farm house.
Via Marzatore, 15
We spent a glorious day in Positano, a village and comune on the Amalfi Coast (Costiera Amalfitana), in Campania, Italy. The main part of the city sits in an enclave in the hills leading down to the coast.
The street, full of shops offering art, hippie chic beachwear, custom handmade sandals and lemon everything spiral down to the Mediterranean. We enjoyed the freshest seafood for lunch by the water…and yes speedos are still all the rage for men…and why not.
Lemons are the size of grapefruits and are often eaten sliced with a sprinkle of salt and a drizzle of olive oil. The afternoon led us to the Le Sirenuse hotel for a cocktail by the pool overlooking the coast and a visit to the oyster bar.
The moon illuminating the sea after a fabulous dinner at Max was the most spectacular we’ve ever seen and sadly could not be captured on film. Stay tuned…tomorrow we’ve rented a boat to take us to Capri.
During our stay at Il Falconierie in Cortona, we came across Frances Mayes, the author of the book Under the Tuscan Sun which made the city famous, but it was put on the map by the Etruscans, who’ve left tombs everywhere around the hill Cortona is built upon.
The city is charming, romantic and sweet with amazing views of Valdichiana and the Tuscan hills. We even found an underground well in one shop containing fish.
We toured the Baracchi Winery with Silvia Baracchi, it is located on a beautiful slope just east of Cortona with a wonderful view of the Valdichiana Valley and Under the Tuscan Sun. The 17th century villa was the home of the famous poet Antonio Guadagnoli and has now been completely restored into a countryside Relais; Il Falconiere it is part of the prestigious chain Relais & Châteaux, and one of the most romantic and beautiful properties in Cortona.
The old olive groves and the new vineyards surround the property. Silvia’s husband Riccardo with their son Benedetto continue the family tradition of grape growing and wine making, which began in 1860. We enjoyed their Sangiovese, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet and Trebbiano wines.
The names of their wines reflect a passion for falconry and thus the name of the property Il Falconierie, Smeriglio and Astore are names of falcons, very attentive and full of passion, Ardito instead defines the character of the falcon, fearless and brave.
In addition to wines the family also produces delicious olive oils.
Il Falconierie-Cortona is an amazing winery, spa, hotel and restaurant!
Il Falconierie is an amazing winery, spa and hotel, located in Cortona and owned and operated by the Baracchi family. I want to tell you about the amazing afternoon that Pepper and I spent with Richard Titi, chef of Il Falconierie’s, 1 Michelin star restaurant housed in an old lemon house with a glass and wrought-iron conservatory, overlooking the outside dining terrace with its ancient fishpond and rose-clad pergola.
We prepared Limoncello, Stuffed Zucchini Flowers with Ricotta Cheese and Basil, Pici Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes and Aromatic Herbs, Veal Medallion Stuffed with Black Olives and for dessert Flaky Pastry with Pears, Pine Nuts and Melted Chocolate. Follow the links and enjoy the details and recipes.
Our creations were savored on the dining terrace and paired with Baracchi wines. Che Buono!
RELAIS IL FALCONIERE & SPA
Località San Martino a Bocena n.370
I-52044, Cortona (Arezzo)
We had the great pleasure of touring “Istituto Professionale per L’Agricoltura”, a school of agriculture that produces Parmigiano Reggiano, fresh Ricotta and grows a beautiful array of fruits and vegetables. The cheese is a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) product, which means that its distinctive features and its link with the area of origin are guaranteed by a system of EU rules designed to protect both consumers and producers. Production is carried out according to the product specification of the PDO, and it’s certified by the independent body “Dipartimento Controllo Qualità”. The trademark Parmigiano Reggiano can only be put on a cheese: produced and processed in the place of origin produced according to strict rules, which require precise production methods, the three main methods are as follows:
- Production Standard: controlled feeding of the cows
- Feeding Regulation: and qualitative selection and marking
- Marking Regulation: Milk and cheese production takes place in the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna to the west of the Reno River and Mantua to the east of the Po River.
The quality is dependent on the place of origin, the natural feed and the high quality milk with no additives. During the long aging process, natural fermenting agents in the milk give the cheese its particular flavor and texture, in other words, its typicality. The fresh ricotta is then produced from the remaining whey.
After our tour of Villa San Donnino, we toured the property and learned all about the process of fermenting and producing aged balsamic vinegar. Take a look at the video, where proprietor Davide explains the process. He also showed us how he makes traditional walnut liquor “Nocino” by fermenting green walnuts, 90 proof liquor and sugar. By tradition the walnuts are always picked green the 24th day of June.
Villa San Donnino was built on March 14th 1910 by Lieutenant Claudio San Donnino. It was later to become an exquisite example of Emilia Romagna “liberty”. Frescoes and decorations by Aroldo Bonzaghi (1887-1918). The villa is filled with spectacular art deco treasures and was used as the back drop for the 70’s film 1900 with Robert Da Niro. The current owners Davide and his wife Cristina now produce an impressive array of balsamic vinegars on the property.
The Association for the Guardianship and Exploitation of the Traditional Culinary-Gastronomic Heritage of Italy and the Home Food project sponsored by the Ministry of Agricultural Politics, in collaboration with the University of Bologna, emphasizes and spreads the culture of traditional food interwoven with the culture of typical products in particular areas. In this spirit it is possible to become a guest of Italian families and to taste foods cooked by the lady of the house, affectionately called the Cesarine in praise of all the grandmothers, caretakers, aunts, that have enriched the home kitchen. We spent a lovely afternoon with Cersarine Luisa, and her mother. We learned to make homemade pasta, tortelloni filled with spinach and ricotta, tagliatelle with bolognese sauce and a delicious chocolate dessert that we enjoyed with a walnut liquor that Luisa’s uncle made. In the spirit of home cooking, we had dinner at Trattoria Serghei. A family run traditional restaurant offering no menu but specialties from the Emilia-Romagna region created by the matriarch of the family and served by the men in the house. It was delicious and cosy.
Via Piella, 12
39 0 51233533
A beautiful gondola ride led us through the small canals to the grand canal and the Palazzo Danieli Excelsior for dinner at the Terrazza Danieli offering unparalleled views that span Venice: from the Giudecca and Grand Canals past the island of San Giorgio to the Venice Lido and beyond. Absolutely one of the most beautiful places to dine in The city. It was an unforgettable and special last evening in Venice for both of us.
Hotel Cipriani | Giudecca 10
Take a look at the diamond dragon bracelet/ring combo on Pepper’s hand, containing 49kt of diamonds and 208 grams of gold priced at 300k.
After lunch we headed to see the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, among the most important museums in Italy for European and American art of the first half of the 20th century.
We arrived in Venice and headed through the canals via Gondola accompanied by the beautiful sounds of singing gondoliers.
Our fabulous hotel, Palace Bonvecchiati had amazing views of the canals from the open windows and offered the perfect combination of a warm and modern, home away from home.
We had breakfast on the rooftop at the Hotel Bauer to enjoy the Vogalonga. The event is a celebration of non motorized boats of all kinds that travel through the grand canal as a peaceful testimony against wave motion, which is so dangerous for the city of Venice and the lagoon.
After a nice stroll along the canal and some shopping, we stopped by the original, Harry’s Bar opened May 13, 1931 by Giuseppe Cipriani. There is just something quintessential about sitting in the small bar or in the upstairs dining room with the internationally refined, elite clientele. Once a patron of HB, always a loyal friend. We once spent NYE there and enjoyed the most amazing fireworks over the Grand Canal!
We enjoyed a coffee and some wonderful music at St. Marks Square and enjoyed some of the best people watching in Venice.
There is so much to see, hear, taste and enjoy in the floating city, making the possibilities truly endless!