Tuesday 5 June 2012

Sorrento and Sant'Agnello

My love affair with Italy began with the book Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes. I wanted to make that kind of life-changing trip of my own too. By the time I returned from Rome, Florence, Bologna, Venice and Trieste in 2005, I had fallen hard for Italy. Now, after 7 long years, I longed to rediscover my love for the beautiful country all over again. This time, I traveled with my good friend down south, all the way to Sicily.

Now I am back and more in love with Italy than ever.

We touched down in Rome, traveled to Naples by train (about 2 hours) and boarded the Circumvesuviana train (1 hour) to Sorrento.

The coast.
Also known as Land of Mermaids, Land of Orange and Lemon Groves, Land of Colors, Sorrento is famous for the cultivation of lemons, oranges and olive trees on terraces looking out to azure waters to Ischia, Capri and the Bay of Naples.

The peninsula is surrounded by the Lattari Mountains which hug the Sorrentine coast and the Amalfi coast, rich with plateaus, sheer cliffs, peninsulas and deep gorges. Sorrento is hence the ideal starting point for visiting Capri, Ischia, Naples, Herculaneum, Pompeii, Positano and Amalfi.
At Sorrento train station.

Church in Sorrento.

We stayed in Casa Mazzola, owned by Luigi and his son Ugo, up in the hills of Sant'Agnello. It was in this enchanting village that we discovered it is also a place where kindness and hospitality are handled down from one generation to the next.We experienced that for ourselves throughout the trip.
Our room at Casa Mazzola.

Casa Mazzola.
View from our room.
Casa Mazzola.

Ugo Mazzola.

Luigi Mazzola.

That night, we tasted our first real Italian meal at Stelluccia, an unassuming restaurant set in the village of Sant'Agnello that is really popular with the locals.

The restaurant exudes the warmth of the Southern Italians which we hear so much about and the food is hearty and fresh, we couldn't get enough of. We only paid 25Euro for the salad, pizza, pasta and jug of wine for 2.
Dinner at Ristorante Stelluccia.
The best mozarella cheese and tomato salad ever.
The pizza was yummy.
Pasta vongole.

We woke up to gorgeous weather and decided to visit Positano, the charming town nearby. The only way to get there is to take a bus from Sorrento. Trouble is, the buses tend to be packed with tourists, so we decided to get there on foot.

It is, afterall, a natural oasis with countless foot-paths among ancient farmhouses, archaeological areas, Mediterranean bush and awe inspiring landscapes, on enchanting sea and beaches. What better way to appreciate its beauty than by walking?

Ugo thought we were crazy to consider the 8-km walk along the narrow and windy road that threads along the high cliffs above the Tyrrhenian Sea. Since he couldn't make us change our minds, he sent us to Cocci di San Pietro where we began our walk.
Cocci di San Pietro.
Starting our 2-hour walk.
We came across 3 Italian men who were walking too.

We were treated to stunning coastal views along the way.
This region is famous for the production of limoncello made from lemon rinds, alcohol, water and sugar.
We came across the first roadside stall selling lemons.
The next one had what we were longing for - lemon granita (crushed ice)!

The stalls sell other agricultural products like citrus fruit, wine, nuts and olives too.
I was impressed with the huge bunches of tomatoes on the vine.
The town of Positano finally came into view.
If we had the stamina, we could even walk to Amalfi, another 15 km away.
I will write about the beautiful town of Positano in my next post. Meanwhile, that night, we returned to Sant'Agnello (by bus) tired but happy and treated ourselves to a wonderful dinner at a nice restaurant.
Catch of the day - fresh shrimps cooked simply in salt and pepper. So delicious!
The grilled chicken was good too.


Open Kitchen Concept said...

I love Italy too.. and yes, I think you are crazy to walk for 2 hrs! But then, you've really then got the opportunity to chance upon very beautiful views at your pace. I'm so envious.... :)

Wen-ai said...

Wah... great photos! Yah, I love Italy too although I did not get a chance to travel south. I really do hope to return one day.

The Real Mother Hen said...

I've been waiting to read this and it doesn't disappoint :)

Your photography skill is very good Ting! Love the pictures. Can't wait to read more.

Malar said...

Italy is such a lovely place!
Nice shots! you look cool!

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