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.
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.