Vacation, staycation whatever your pleasure, this summer Italy was mine. Total R & R, sunshine everyday, and a beautiful view of the sea from the terraced gardens of Hotel Caruso in Ravello. After a tour of the gardens with Gaetano Amato, a fourth generation gardener, I was intrigued by some of his methodology, in particular one water feature. (I think I see a change coming in East Hampton!) Gardens are about change, no? Actually, I didn't say that, Gertrude Jekyll did, so who's to question?
The garden of Hotel Caruso is an exercise in engineering. As anyone that knows the Amalfi coast, it is a vertical one stretching straight up from the sea. Nearly every garden consists of tiers and layers. A young garden created only in 2005, Gaetano Amato has created a very special place for guests to walk, explore or simply sit and enjoy...I did all three. With a few books to read and one of my own to write, Italy was my 'prescription' this summer.
A visit to La Sireneuse for a leisurely lunch.
Produced by Eau d'Italie described as "a journey of the senses through Italian landscapes" I selected JARDIN du POETE. None will disappoint, but this one got me. Clean yet intensely green, a new summer favorite, and to mix with other florals. After lunch at la Sireneuse, we stopped in at Villa Tre Ville for a quick visit.
Once the Amalfi residence of Franco Zeffirelli, Villa Tre Ville was a haven in the '60s for artists, musicians and dancers such as Maria Callas, Liz Taylor, Leonard Bernstein, Rudolf Nureyev and Lawrence Olivier. If walls could talk...
Obviously, Italy has been the prescription for many for a long time.
La Dolce Vita!
How could you not come back inspired by some pasta dish, some presentation, some lemon confection? The Limone is ubiquitous. When we stopped to visit the town of Sermoneta on the way to Rome we had lunch at Simposio al Corso. A tiny outdoor restaurant with a canvas canopied roof that probably sat 20 people. When chef, owner Fabio Stivali came to our table I knew we were in for a show. Charming, engaging and obviously loving what he does, Fabio said leave it to me, so we did.
Trombolotto, a lemon filled with pasta. I love a good visual, and this goes on the list. So, as no chef even hints of ingredients, I have been trying to figure out how to recreate this at home. I will have to settle for a recipe that approximates the flavor. It will be my trombolotto..with the biggest lemon I can find.
So here goes....
1 cup of olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
a cup of fresh parsley chopped...(my addition...I needed some contrast!)
Fresh ground black pepper and salt to taste
zest of one lemon
3 tbsp lemon juice
(this assumes 1 lb pasta...I like Cipriani Tagliolini)
If you are headed this way, anytime, I suggest reading THE LIGHT IN BETWEEN by Marella Caracciolo Chia. A Caetani-Colonna marriage and a more interesting "marriage interruptus' involving Umberto Boccioni...is a great love story and window into society at the time.
The Gardens of Ninfa
The landscape garden of Ninfa is located below the town of Sermoneta north of Rome. For garden lovers it is a must. This is NOT a Renaissance garden with statuary and engineered water features. Based on English style gardens it is built on the site of Roman ruins, but most importantly on what remains of a medieval town. In the 1920's Gelasio Caetani created the garden that is now visited by over 60,000 people each year and is run by a private foundation. Over 250 acres, a walking tour takes you on a mere fraction, but a great sampling of what is there.
La Posta Vecchia
Built on Roman ruins facing the Tyrrhenian Sea in a private park like setting La Posta Vecchia is a small luxury hotel of nineteen suites. Never do you feel like you are in a hotel. Once the home of J. Paul Getty the hotel maintains the air of a private home that is beautiful, comfortable and hospitable.
While the structure is grand, the furnishings antique, the tapestries to die for, and the breezes that drift through are completely shoulder dropping.....
This simple and chic gesture awaiting us in our room, confirmed what we already knew about style...
Simple is best.
Piazza San Giovanni del Toro 2
84010 Ravello (SA), Italy
Via Cristoforo Colombo, 30
84017 Positano (SA) Italy
Via Laurito, 2
84017 Positano (SA) Italy
00055 Palo Laziale (Roma) - Italy