Italy 2016

posted in: Inspiration | 18

I am a day late with my posting, but we just got back from Italy. We needed a break and had a wonderful time, walking along the Amalfi coast, in the south west of Italy.

Amalfi coast map
Amalfi coast map

Based in a small, family run hotel in Agerola we went out daily on long walks, punctuated by lots of stops for strong coffee, freshly squeezed orange juice, pannini and great views of turquoise sea. We walked to Amalfi, Ravello, Praiano, Positano and had an excursion to Pompeii and Vesuvius.  The trip is the most popular one offered by Exodus and they are fully booked 50 weeks of the year.

With it being Italy it was also about food. We were shown how Mozarella (locally known as Fiordilatte as it is made from cow’s, rather than Buffalo milk) is made. Nick has previously tried to make this at home with a “cheese making kit” George and Bianca gave him last Christmas. While his Ricotta was splendid the mozzarella never worked for us. So it was thrilling to see it being made locally. We were given samples to eat there and take away. It was completely delicious, cooled but not refridgerated, slightly tangy and firm. Our cheesemaker also showed how he plaited the cheese prior to it being smoked for a different experience. While we were there a number of local inhabitants drove up or walked for their weekend supplies – at €9 a kilo it was very good value.

The cheese of course is best paired with the amazing local tomatoes, (in this case purple) basil, olive oil and good bread. Although I am fond of Caprese salad and eat it in England (sometimes with Avocado as a Tricolour salad) the taste is completely different. In Italy the tomatoes are amazing as well as the cheese, ripened on the vine, red, warm, juicy. A plate of this simple salad in the sun, by the sea, is my idea of heaven. And the area is known for its lemons too, often made into Limoncello, sorbet or icecream. Limoncello is made from the rind (not the pith) which is mixed with sugar and alcohol. The fresh cherries can be picked from the roadside as you walk along, but also feature for breakfast.

We spent a fascinating day at Pompeii which is truly stunning, huge and still so full of life. The way people lived in AD 69 is so similar to how we live today, in so many ways. Off the Forum, at the centre of the site is the Eumachia building where fabric was traded and also it seems woven,  dyed, bleached and cleaned by the fullers.

Other highlights included walking along the highest ridge of Mount Vesuvius, the volcano responsible for creating and preserving Pompaii. It was very misty and windy, but once we got inside the volcano I sat down on a rock, heated from inside by magma. It was like sitting on a steamy radiator, outside in a damp but warm environment. Very strange but exhilarating.

I was pleased I was able to wear some handmade clothes for the trip. The UK weather doesn’t normally give me an opportunity to dress like this. So it is with a sense of joy that I was able to wear lightweight hand crafted clothes. My Preen-inspired silk blouse is lined in silk and the pixelated peony looked nice with white linen. The Fisherman’s pants are great for hiking as you can make them any length and the tie waist ensures they fit even if you eat lots of pasta.

Finally, because “My Holiday Snaps” has gone on long enough I want to share just one more thought.

We came across an old aqueduct, carved with “Anno XII EF.” The Era Fascista (Fascist Era),  lasted from 1922 to 1945, so the 12th year would be 1933/34. Much of the aqueduct was destroyed after the war. As the UK seriously considers pulling out of the EU I feel very sad that the underlying unity of Europe is threatened again. I love being British, but I also love being part of Europe. Easy access to countries like Italy, and the ongoing project of integrating poorer regions which are still emerging from the sickening results of the Second World War – such as Romania – means I am a big supporter of the EU and I am hoping my fellow Brits vote to Remain.

18 Responses

  1. Sounds like you had a lovely time.
    I’m a remainer too. I think the EU gave itself huge problems in not thinking through the detail of the social policy and establishing means to substitute for the financial measures pre-euro governments could take to protect their balance of payments (which they now can’t), but leaving means abandoning a project based on hope instead of trying to help improve it.

  2. Christine

    So good to hear someone refer to the principles behind the EU. I live in France but my proxy vote is through and will be remain. I can only hope.

  3. Please don’t apologise for your holiday-inspired post. It sounds like you had an amazing time. Us Aussies are envious of the ease with which the British can travel to different countries – and cultures!

  4. Stephanie

    Kate, You have done many things I haven’t done in Italy, even though our close friends are from Sorrento and given that I am in Italy so often. Looks wonderful. I agree about the tomatoes, too. They are so much better than the ones we have here. The only ones that come close are the ones my mother grows. PS I also hope that Britain will vote to remain but it’s obviously not my choice.

    • Ah, tomatoes! It is very hard to get tasty tomatoes here (though I tend to find ASDA of all places does great loose on the vine tomatoes that actually taste like they’ve been sunned!) and one of the reasons why I love Croatia/Dalmatia is that food flavours are so intense at a fraction of the price they are here.

      I’m so glad you enjoyed your well-earned break. As for the referendum, I think I’m glad we’re having one and suspect that common sense will prevail as it did in the Scottish one. I started off with a kind of 60% / 40% gut feeling for remain. But as I listened to the arguments my feelings have been reinforced to more like 95%. I welcome the p-o-w of those from other countries (like Stephanie and Mark Carney) who I imagine to be more objective that those who’ve lived in this country a long time and seen it change against the background of an equally changing world, but I’ve found the arguments from the remain camp very powerful and moving.

      • Well we had such a nice time on this holiday we want to do another walking holiday (my calves are getting so shapely!!). We are now looking at Croatia for the next one – having met you Marianna and finding you so lovely. Good to know the tomatoes are just as good (if not better!).

    • Stephanie

      Ha ha thanks for the vote of confidence in lumping me in with Mark Carney, M. 🙂 I, too, want to take a trip to Croatia. It looks so gorgeous.

  5. Thanks for this, it’s lovely to see your pictures and the food sounds lush.

    I’m optimistic that we will choose to remain, I dread the alternative.

  6. Me too Kate, I’m a remain although I fear that the leavers will win.

  7. Lots to fear with upcoming elections everywhere…..so much better to focus on holiday’s and sewing. I’m intrigued by the fisherman’s pants for hiking……

    ceci

  8. Joyce Latham

    Wow what a great holiday. Thanks so much for shareing, especially the photographs , they are wonderful! I know you will have gathered many many many ideas from this fabulous trip! Surely you were inspired in all kinds of ways. It’s nice to have you back!
    Joyce.

  9. What a beautiful post. How blessed you are to get to do this. It sounds so lovely. I am sure that there is more you could tell us. Give us more details.

  10. I am glad for your holiday. Fingers crossed for the vote, from waaaaaaay over here in the US (left hand side).
    Uneasy times for all.

  11. Loved this post. One of my favourite holidays was spent in Ravello, and I’m very tempted by your exodus trip. I’m also glad to read your EU comments, the need for us to stay in Europe because of the continued development of fairer systems in other countries seems never to be mentioned. I’ve been very upset by the prejudicial rhetoric of the leave side in relation to immigration and of course Jo cox’s appalling murder. (Not that I feel the Remain campaign was good).

  12. Marie-Elaina

    I thoroughly enjoyed your blog on the self drafted halterneck dress in grey crepe and also your holiday in Italy. So very informative and interesting. I too am a remain voter and so too my daughter. I dread what will happen if we come out not just for reasons you stated, as the stock market is already delicate and our holidays travel will not be so easy. Scary times

    • Thank you Marie-Elaina for your kind feedback. My kids are all “Remain” too – let’s hope good sense prevails on Thursday.

  13. Thanks for sharing the holiday photos – I am inspired by your ability to put together beautiful, colorful outfits (with accessories!) while traveling! And here’s another wish for the UK and the US to work towards more inclusive, forward-thinking solutions that embrace the potential of a more unified world.

  14. Takes me back to a lovely winter trip my daughter and I made to the Amalfi in 2014. Lemons everywhere. Hope you brought home molto tessuti!

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