Dramatically beautiful, wild, daring and romantic, the Amalfi Coast defines an Italian luxury escape. Marvel at the dramatic Amalfi coastline with aquamarine waters, steep cliffs and lemon groves below the Vesuvius, tour Pompeii and Naples and the romantic island of Capri. Take a cooking class in the unique setting of Ravello, walk through the fragrant gardens of Positano, suspended over the sparkling sea, tour the Greek temples in Paestum, and take a private boat tour of secluded beaches, coves and grottoes of the Sorrento Peninsula.
Christmas in Naples
The tradition of nativity scenes - presepio in Italian - dates back to the 13th century and St. Francis of Assisi. Nativity scenes are associated with Naples, which turned them into an art form. The original presepi were crafted on a mannequin made of wire, with a terra-cotta head, arms and legs, and richly dressed in silk clothes embroidered with gold. Wealthy aristocrats used these figures as Christmas decorations. In the 17th century, Neapolitan presepi started to include scenes of daily life, street vendors, villagers, animals, and were a faithful rendition of society at the time. >>
The Isle of Capri, floating off the tip of the Sorrento Peninsula and shaped roughly like a camel's back, as been attracting visitors for 2,000 years. Part of the same limestone massif that forms the Amalfi Coast, Capri is even more dramatic. The cliffs seem more precipitous, the water an even deeper azure, the gardens more lively with color and scent. Capri town is the heart of the island life. Overflowing with whitewashed villas draped in bougainvillea, luxurious boutiques, and trattorias, the town is criss-crossed by ancient pathways leading past houses of the rich and famous and opening up to reveal stunning vistas of cliff and sea. >>
The city of Pompeii is arguably one of the most famous sites in Italy, primarily known for the devastating volcanic eruption that destroyed the city and killed its 11,000 inhabitants in 79 AD. Along with Herculaneum and many nearby villas, Pompeii was buried beneath 13 to 20 feet of ash and pumice after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and was lost to the rest of the world until it was rediscovered in 1599, then more fully unearthed in 1748 by Spanish engineer Rocque Joaquin de Alcubierre. Pliny the Younger described the eruption and resulting catastrophic loss of life in a letter he wrote while witnessing the destruction from a distance. >>
Traditional Neapolitan cooking can be quite complex, and is known for both simple dishes like pizza and elaborate meals. Pizza, macaroni, and spaghetti were the main meals of the less wealthy unless a special occasion presented itself. A religious festival always called for more elaborate and varied dishes. People could sit at a table with a rich, abundant meal and fill up for the rest of the year, or at least until the next festivity. Often, a quick snack was preferred. People would gather around the "maccaronaro", an old-time snack bar, where they stood outside waiting for a hot meal that could be eaten without the necessity of a table. >>
Limoncello, the lemon liqueur often served as an after dinner aperitif, is the most famous of sweet liqueurs made in the Amalfi area from fruits and herbs - known as rosoli. Other rosoli are Finocchietto, made with wild fennel; Lauro, made with bay leaves; Mirto, made with myrtle; Nocello, made with walnuts; the rare Nanassino, made with prickly pears; and Fragolino, made with fragoline di bosco, the wild strawberries. Limoncello is the most common rosolio. Various local versions are sold throughout the Sorrento Peninsula, on the islands of Ischia and Capri, and almost every family in Campania has its own recipe that has been passed down for centuries. >>