Now that we can not travel, I am looking back at some of my favorite trips of 2019. This is part three of a five part summer vacation in 2019 where I traveled various parts of Italy and France. I have had a fantasy of visiting the Amalfi Coast since the first time I saw a postcard perfect photo that took my breath away. The opportunity presented it’s selt in 2019, and the story goes something like this.
Regine: “Let’s go to the Amalfi Coast. My destiny is there.”
Stacey: “Ok, but your destiny is expensive.”
This was the DM (direct message) that started part 3 of my 5 parts of vacation planning. Yes, my vacations are in parts like epic movies, so good I want more!
Where is the Amalfi Coast?
The amalfi coast “The Amalfi Coast is a 50-kilometer stretch of coastline along the southern edge of Italy’s Sorrentine Peninsula, in the Campania region.” When researching where to stay in Amalfi Coast, three cities appeared in every google search: Positano (for the rich and famous), Sorrento (recommended as the best city to visit your first time in Amalfi) and Ravelo (said to be the best place if you’re on a budget). Well, we were on a budget. We traveled in June, one of the busiest times for tourism. Finding a hotel that meets my hotel snob and budget requirements is nearly impossible. As I thought my dreams of visiting Amalfi would need postponing again, Stacey read about an island an hour’s boat ride from Sorrento called Ischia and suggested we stay there. “Uh, but my destiny is in the Amalfi!!” was my response. She sent me the link to a gorgeous apartment with a sea view and private deck, and I suddenly expanded the parameters of where to locate my destiny.
Getting to Ischia is a bit of a hike. We had an hour flight from Venice to Naples. Then a 20-minute taxi to the port (Beverello station for hydro, the fast but slightly more expensive boat). From there it’s an hour by boat to Ischia. We had about an 40 minutes before our ship sailed, so I suggested we make a mad dash for provisions, i.e., bubbles! I need bubbles while I unpack, and I was truly nervous that there wouldn’t be a store close to our apartment (boy was I wrong). We found a hot dingy mom and pop food mart near the train station where I found bottles of Prosecco on the top shelf. This is where I abandon my wine education in the name of a good time. Two bottles of suspicious bubbles secured, and we were on our way to what would be home for the next three nights.
Oh Ischia! The image I’ll hold onto is one of an Italian man sitting on a bench at the port reading a 4×6 hardcover book. I imagine it was a book of poetry and thought, hey destiny, I’m here for you.
Here’s the rundown of our trip. You may notice that I don’t do a lot of “tourist” things. Site seeing is important to me, but I’m here for culture.
Where To Stay
Il Lentisco Apartments in Villa. I loved this place. It’s about a five-minute walk from the port. It’s clean, decorated in simple modern furnishings and has a mesmerizing view. We stayed in the sea-facing two-bedroom apartment on the top floor. The unit has a private deck and two bathrooms. Note each of the four apartments is very different, so be specific when you book. I want to give it five stars, but I can’t. There were a few issues that you must know if you’re considering staying here. Although a kitchen is advertised (and there is one) it’s not functioning. We chose this apartment because we love to make our own meals from local produce. We checked both hotels.com and the Italian site that lists this property and both listed a kitchen and cooking utensils as amenities. Again, no functioning kitchen and no utensils. However, the hosts and cleaning crew were lovely and attentive. They provided a picnic basket breakfast every morning with warm pastries and fresh juices. Check out the basket on IGTV!
What To Drink
This part of the trip was not about wine education but drinking. Ischia is known for its wines. The combination of a Mediterranean climate and volcanic soil creates interesting wines of depth and character. Adding to our suspicious 6e Prosecco, we explored a local wine shop and found Tommasone Per’ E Palummo. The wine is rich with soft tannins with loads of plum and cherry flavors, a perfect pairing to our beautiful view.
This area is known for the famous Italian liquor limoncello. Limoncello tastes like a lemon Now and Later candy floating in grappa. Speaking of grappa, another local favorite is a fennel-based spirit known as Finnochiato. Some local restaurants serve a refined version of sangria: white wine with fresh peaches. Since I am a professional, I made sure to taste all of the local offerings!
I met up with winemaker Francesco DiFillipis of Cosino Maria Nasini who happened to be in town for an event. We tasted his Sauvignon Blanc and Vermentino (always fab) and a his silky, polished copper-colored rosé made of Sangiovese.
Where To Eat
When I’m at home in Chicago, the grocery store is one of my least favorite places, in Europe, it’s my playground. We enjoyed most of our meals at the villa, feasting on local cheeses, ham, truffle spreads from Venice, tomatoes, and melons grown in the garden of Eden (the only explanation for why they’re so good).
We lunched at Da Adolfo Positano restaurant, famous for its great seafood, seaside view and penis inspired sculptures. Yup I said penis! Everything about this place is delicious; from the people to the view, to the dishes. You must try the mussels, grilled anchovy, and the eggplant.
Ischia is known for its thermal baths. There are a few options, we chose Poseidon“The largest thermal park of the island of Ischia. Over 20 pools overlook the beautiful Bay of Citara.” You can spend the day lounging on the beach, testing the therapeutic baths, getting a spa treatment or dining in one of the three restaurants on the property.
I’ve been fortunate to travel to some beautiful places. I can’t recall one place that felt so much like home. Although I enjoyed our visits to Positano and Sorrento, after a few hours away from Ischia I was itching to get back. I think of it as home.