Italy Day 3

What an absolutely wonderful day! Day 3 entailed a cooking class that I had read rave reviews of. It was a bit pricey, but I decided to go ahead and splurge.

James and I woke up early, grabbed a very quick bite to eat (and light – we were warned if we ate a regular breakfast we wouldn’t “make it” through the day by our instructor) and headed back on the hiking trails to Ravello. The wind was blowing mightily, and we were better prepared for what the walk entailed, having already done it once on Sunday. We made our way to Ravello center and people watched as the town woke up and started to come alive.

So much less sweaty this time.

30 minutes before the class was scheduled to start, we started weaving our way through the streets of Ravello and finally arrived at Mamma Agata’s Hidden Treasure.

We were ushered into the family’s home and out on a terrace that overlooked the Amalfi coast. The views were absolutely breathtaking.

The table we sat at, which overlooked the above picture. You can see in the mirrors they’ve positioned on the wall.

The rest of the class arrived and Chiara – our host and trusty translator – started serving us lemon cake and cappuccinos. Chiara did an absolutely STAND OUT JOB with my gluten intolerance. She took great care to ensure that I was able to try everything – and that it was made for me specially. I felt such warmth and happiness from this experience. Compared to our dinner last night – which did not offer me a lot of flexibility – this was a warm welcome.

My little gluten free lemon cake.

Following the light snack (ha ha), we huddled into the kitchen to meet Mamma Agata – a woman in her late 70s who speaks only Italian, but enough of it to ask all of the newly weds when our bambinos were on the way (ha ha again). We started the morning with a demonstration on how to make the eggplant for eggplant parmesan, as well as a tomato sauce (a staple in all Italian cooking). While the sauce simmered, we returned to our seats with eggplant to try along with bread, homemade olive oil, red hell (a red pepper spread) and smoked provolone cheese. Everything for me was made gluten free. It was divine. The wine was also made onsite by Chiara’s husband – and it was amazing. Low alcohol content, not too sweet and very refreshing.

Italian breakfast.

While the sauce simmered, we were able to roam the property, which boasted lemon groves, a farm, animals galore and an amazing lawn with chairs and couches facing the sea. It was truly magical.

My new friend, Moppa.

We were herded back into the kitchen to start preparing the lemon chicken and finish our eggplant parmesan. This time we were asked to try the tomato sauce, and top with parmesan cheese and red hell. Once again, they provided me gluten free bread so that I could partake. Next up we prepared two sauces – one that cooked down all the tomatoes and included sausages and peppers; another that was a much faster cooking time that included capers and olives.

Another short break back on the wonderful property, more wine, lots of water and breathtaking views.

We returned to the kitchen a final time to finish off the sauces, try the olives added to the sauces and tomatoes that were used throughout. We finished the lemon chicken, make zucchini fritters and finally sat down to enjoy a late lunch.

The food was absolutely delicious. Everything tasted amazing, and for me, everything was gluten free! I wish I could have taken all the food back to the hotel with me. The meal ended with more lemon cake and homemade limoncello. It was divine.

After saying a sad goodbye, we embarked on our journey back to Minori through the mountain hiking trails. We immediately changed at the hotel and ran to the beach for a quick swim. It took some coaxing, but eventually James joined me. The water was refreshing and I was even able to get in a little swim. We returned to the hotel, showered and walked down to the patisserie for some gelato for dinner – because who really needs to eat more food after consuming a four course late lunch plus snacks and dessert?

Italy Day 2

The weather gods were in our favor, and so we set off on Day 2 in a yacht (though small in comparison to most yachts around here) to tour the Amalfi Coast and explore the island of Capri for a few hours. The boat picked us up at the end of the Minori jetty (which is really just a pier, or a dock) and we took off to Maiori to visit Pandora’s cave. Afterwards, we jetted back across the coastline, and stopped at the Emerald Grotto. It was a bit cloudy, so not as ideal to see the green shimmering water inside this cavern in the middle of the ocean, but we paid the five euros each anyway. There were a few patches, and we enjoyed the miracle of nature.

Emerald Grotto entrance
Emerald water

We stopped between Positano and Capri for a quick swim. The water here is the purest blue. It’s absolutely breathtaking. And eerily clear. Needless to say, I’m glad I packed my goggles on a last minute whim.

The “tour” part of the boat ride was a bit comical. The first mate was in charge of telling us facts about the coastline. Instead of telling us how this massive cavern appeared in the middle of the cliffside, he instead shared that Amalfi’s best hotel (5 stars!) was directly beneath it.

We arrive at Capri around  1pm and had three hours to explore the island. Unfortunately, there was a lot of Capri I wanted to see (like an ancient Roman villa) that was just too far to get to in the time we had. So we took the funicular up the cliff to what I will describe as rich people Disneyland. The Kardashians are currently vacationing in Capri, if that helps set the stage for you. The town itself reminded me of Miami or Naples, Florida – palm trees, lots of color and way too much glitz. We people watched outside a cafe, enjoyed surprisingly decent salad (me) and pizza (James), and eventually made our way to Giardini di Augusto.

View from the Garden

On our return back to the pier, we stopped for some amazing gelato (toasted almond, crema and strawberry), got lost in the maze of streets and eventually climbed down the cliff (if only we had known there was a foot path to go up!).

We fully expected the boat to drop us off in Minori, so when they docked in Amalfi and told us we were on our to figure out how we were going to get back, James and I did a bit of a “oh crap” dance. Taxis were 35 euros (for a ten minute drive!!). The buses just look terrible. So we took a ferry and made it on with a minute to spare.

At the hotel, we showered and got dressed in our fancy clothes for a very nice dinner in Ravello at Rosellinis. The weather app told us rain was imminent. The doppler showed nothing. So we grabbed some umbrellas and decided to brave the walk (it’s about 40 minutes, but breathtaking views) and figured we would cab back. Driving here is just not an option for us. We make it up the first layer of stairs, it’s raining lightly, but nothing too bad. We feel embolden by this and start walking with some purpose. And then… the heavens (maybe the hells!) opened. It was pouring so hard that the streets started flooding. I ran underneath someone’s garage for cover and we realized that we were defeated.

So I did what any respectable girl does. I took off my shoes and started to make my way back to the hotel.

I saved my shoes by doing this. I figured anything bad on the ground was washed away by this flood. *Hopes*

James did not fare as well as I did. I would say I was damp. James was soaked. His one sole pair of pants was soaked from the ankle to thigh. Covered in mud. His shoes were another color of brown. We asked the hotel to call us a car while we dealt with this outfit disaster. The hairdryer and hair straightener did nothing for the pants, so I used a Tide to go stick to get out the mud stains and James put on his only other pair of “pants” – his new lululemon athletic pants. Shorts weren’t going to fly at this restaurant. We died laughing. He put on his soggy shoes and a new button down and we went downstairs…

This is  where we met Ambrosio – our driver. Not a taxi, a private driver who lived up to every Italian stereotype. Super tan. White capri pants. Fancy shoes. A light blue racing jacket. Aviators. Perfectly oiled back hair. And an “A” tattooed on his neck. He spoke about as much English as James speak Italian. So this made for an interesting drive. But he got us to the restaurant in one piece, and we essentially figured that we should only call him to drive us around because the other guys steal your money (we later realized this is true).

Our dinner continued our trashy American theme. Now soaked, and in athleisure, we proceeded to wrestle with the menu. The sommelier kept trying to convince me to get a glass of rose until I told him I didn’t want to spend 40 euros for a glass of wine (so he only charged me 10…) and everything gluten free on the menu was tuna, prawns or spaghetti. So I got the tuna and spaghetti (no, I don’t want a meat course.. you eat too much… I am content with this amount of food….) and James had a four course tasting menu: egg foam soup, rabbit ravioli, suckling pig and a hazelnut box with cream inside.

Ambrosio picked us up afterwards, and we made our way down the winding roads of Ravello. He charged us 80 euros – which yes is outrageous, but he saved the day, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but we’ll probably call him again later.