Amalfi – The Crown Jewel of Italy
One of the most romantic destinations on the planet has to be Italy’s Amalfi coast. The names are familiar: Sorrento, Capri, Ischia, Positano, Castellamare, Naples, Ravello…..they literally roll off the tongue. This is the heart and soul of Italy. This is Italy’s answer to Greece’s Mykonos and Santorini – inextricably Italian, unbelievably beautiful and for the foodies among us, a place to enjoy the finest wines and flavors of Italian cuisine.
Cruising the waters of the Amalfi on a charter yacht puts all of these experiences into one compact trip. The distances between most of these ports, towns and villages are a convenient 15 and 25 miles of each other so it involves a very reasonable amount of time on the water and lots of time to explore, eat, drink and enjoy. A week in the Amalfi is the cultural equivalent of two or three weeks anywhere else.
Places You Simply Have To Visit
ACCESSING THE AMALFI
If you are planning a stand-alone Amalfi yachting vacation, you need to fly into Naples or Napoli as it’s known locally. So both your pick-up and drop-off would be the port of Naples. Although you could do a one way from Naples to Salerno and take a cab back to Naples. A seven day charter would include all the hot-spots including the Island of Procida, The island of Ischia, Sorrento, the Island of Capri, Positano, Amalfi and Salerno. AND many of the beautiful little ports and villages along the way
You can also visit the Amalfi as a stop-over destination on a longer charter, or on a faster motor yacht. If you started your charter in, say, Genoa or Portofino in Northern Italy, you can stop over in the Amalfi on the way south towards Sicily and the Aeolian islands. This sounds like a two-weeker to me if you really want to do justice to Italy and all it has to offer.
For Foodies Only
As the saying goes: “the PIZZA alone is a good reason to visit Naples…” Yes, but the region of Campania which is home to Naples and the Amalfi has a whole lot more to offer than pizza. Here are the top 10:
1. Neapolitan Pizza
Number one on this list could only be the justly famous Neapolitan pizza. Known as the birthplace of pizza, Naples has many pizzaioli (pizza makers) who have been perfecting their fine craft for centuries. For the most traditional experience, try the Pizza Margherita topped with tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, a drizzle of olive oil and a few basil leaves. It’s simple and divine all at once, and is only one of the many choices you’ll find throughout Campania.
2. Risotto alla Pescatora
While risotto is often associated more with central and northern Italy, Risotto alla Pescatora is a classic seafood risotto popular in Naples, along the Amalfi Coast and in other seaside areas. The fresh flavors of the sea blend beautifully with the delicate rice base, making this a refreshing summer dish.
3. Spaghetti con le vongole
Campanian cooking is simple and fresh, and this dish highlights those traits at their best. This traditional Neapolitan recipe features vongole (clams), olive oil, garlic and parsley served with spaghetti, and is one that you’ll also find along the Amalfi Coast, the islands of Capri and Ischia and along the Campania coastline.
4. Parmigiana Melanzane
Campania’s famous mozzarella cheese is an important ingredient in many traditional dishes, including the well-known Parmigiana Melanzane, or Eggplant Parmesan. Thin slices of eggplant are fried and then layered with tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil, and when baked the flavors meld in an irresistible and comforting dish.
5. Caprese Salad
No dish captures the flavors and simplicity of Campanian cooking better than the Caprese salad made with sun-ripened tomatoes, fresh leaves of basil gently torn and a drizzle of olive oil over the region’s excellent mozzarella di bufala (buffalo milk cheese). The plains around Paestum and Salerno and Caserta outside Naples are famous for the production of mozzarella di bufala. Another equally popular choice in Campania for the Caprese salad is the delicious fior di latte mozzarella made with cow’s milk. While this salad is now famous throughout Italy, it is named after the island of Capri where it comes from.
6. Totani e Patate
Here’s where mare meets terra literally in this dish of squid and potatoes, a classic on the Amalfi Coast. Although it might sound a little strange, try it and you’ll likely be surprised by this warm and satisfying dish.
No food pilgrimage to Naples would be complete without trying the city’s mythic polpette(meatballs). They’re better than you can imagine! A traditional family style lunch might include pasta with the sauce from the polpette and the meatballs served separately as the second course.
8. Pesce all’Acqua Pazza
What is fish cooked in crazy water? While the name of this dish is pretty wild, it’s one of the simplest and tastiest ways to prepare fish. On the Amalfi Coast, locally caught fresh fish are simmered in water with garlic, tomatoes and parsley.
9. Fritto Misto di Mare
A classic served by the seaside in summer along with a crisp white wine with fresh peaches, this mix of fried seafood often features calamari, shrimp and anchovies. If you’re seafood shy, this might not be the dish for you. But any local will tell you that the fried baby octopus is the best!
10. Broccoli and Salsiccia You don’t have to go far inland in the mountains on the Amalfi Coast – only to Ravello and Scala – before you’ll spot this traditional fall and winter dish on the menu. Locally made sausage with fennel contrasts wonderfully with the bitter broccoli rabe that grows so well in Campania. This is a very popular flavor combination and is served often as a second dish or as an inventive pizza topping.
How about the wine?
Wine-making has been going on in this region since the thirteenth century BC..!! Especially in the Taurasi DOCG zone, a handful of winemakers have been pro-actively producing wide arrays of notable reds and whites that have acquired national respect. In addition to Taurasi, there are two other “boutique” reds that debuted in 1994 and have since acquired a respectable status in Italy.
The arguably best-known Campania wine is the Lacrima Christi or, “Tears of Christ”. Though, in the past, it was so overproduced that it almost ruined its reputation, in more recent years serious efforts have been made by local winemakers to restore its former status and have so far met with some success.
Campania, like many Italian regions, is home an impressive array of grape varieties, some of which are found almost nowhere else on earth. Its most important variety is arguably Aglianico, the grape behind the region’s two most famous and respected red wines: Taurasi and Aglianico del Taburno. Aglianico was introduced to the area by the Greeks and later cultivated by the Romans.