Ralph Lauren, an American in Paris

With an emotive celebration on a cool Parisian evening; Ralph Lauren presented his Fall/Winter 2013 collection and took full charge of the restoration of L’École des Beaux-Arts (School of Fine Arts) which was home of Degas, Manet and Hubert de Givenchy among the most illustrious students.

Detail from the runway of the 2013 Fall Collection by Ralph Lauren
Detail from the runway of the Fall/Winter 2013 Collection by Ralph Lauren, among the guests to the exclusive Gala and Fashion show attended the Princess Charlene of Monaco, the actress Catherine Deneuve, the American Ambassador in Paris Charles Rivkin

L’École des Beaux-Arts, founded during the reign of Louis XIV is one of the oldest Institutions for Fine Arts in the world. The renovations will start in 2014.
The Chevalier of The Legion of Honor Ralph Lauren received this title in 2010 by Sarkozy and soon after was recognized with the keys of the City of New York by the hands of Mayor Bloomberg.

Detail from the Fall 2013 collection presented at the Beaux Arts
The new collection was inspired in the Russian sobriety using the dark night black along with Bordeaux, Prussian Blues, forest green and amethyst.
The new collection was inspired in the Russian sobriety using the dark night black along with Bordeaux, Prussian Blues, forest green and amethyst.
This was the historic debut of Ralph Lauren in Paris.  Two years ago he hosted the exhibition of his classic car collection at Musee des Arts Decoratifs with more than 155 thousand visitors.
This was the historic debut of Ralph Lauren in Paris. Two years ago he hosted the exhibition of his classic car collection at Musee des Arts Decoratifs with more than 155 thousand visitors.

With this act Ralph Lauren gives back to Paris, a city that inspired him so much. Just a few years ago he restored the 17th century palace in the charming Saint-Germain-des-Pres, now one of his biggest flagship stores in Europe and home of “Ralph’s”, his Restaurant, serving prime steak from cows raised on his ranch in Colorado.

Detail of the flagship store at the Parisian Latin Quarter with the style of Ralph Lauren.
Detail of the flagship store at the Parisian Latin Quarter with the style of Ralph Lauren.
In the courtyard of Ralph's The Restaurant, he opted for a French wine list selection instead of our American wine list, an act of diplomacy.
In the courtyard of Ralph’s The Restaurant, he opted for a French wine list selection instead of the American, an act of diplomacy. Yet at Ralph’s the best burgers of Paris are served.
In Paris, Ralph's serves American Modern cuisine.  Reservations are highly recommended.  The service is very French.
In Paris, Ralph’s serves American Modern cuisine. Reservations are highly recommended. The service is very French.

The young boy who started selling ties after his Military service, 45 years later runs an Empire of 5,1 millions of Euros. For the first time he presented his fashion show in Paris at the Beaux-Arts and we didn’t see him with his regular black T-Shirt but with impeccable black tie holding hands with his wife Ricky.

Ralph Lauren, the Chevalier, the boy from the Bronx, the true American spirit.

(c) 2013 Montserrat Franco

Montserrat Franco in Ralph Lauren

La Maison d’Hermès opens a new Temple of Luxury in Milan

With a private and impeccable event the French Luxury Maison Hermès opened the doors of its new Milan flagship store on Via Montenapoleone 12, Milan’s fashion “quadrilatero”.   The Neoclassical palace was dressed up in the famous “giallo ambrosiano” the characteristic yellow color of the city and the exhibition of Pégase d’Hermès, on display in the city’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

The Pegase of Hermes on display at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan, artwork by Christian Renonciat, celebrates the opening of the new store

The choice of Pégase statue it was inspired by the bronze sculpture ‘Eloge du Cheval’, which was also built by Renonciat for the famous Ecole National d’Equitation in Samur, France. Made of beautiful handcrafted wood, the wings represent the free spirit of Hermès.

The infamous "Kelly" bag is one of the best seller items, named after Grace Kelly, the bag made fashion history in 1956 when the Princess of Monaco attempted to protect her pregnancy from the paparazzi.
The infamous “Kelly” bag is one of the best seller items of the Maison, named after Grace Kelly.
Grace Kelly and her Hermes bag during her pregnant days
The Kelly bag made fashion history in 1956 when the Princess of Monaco attempted to hide and protect her pregnancy from the paparazzi.
The Birkin bag pictured here in furious red is more flexible than the Kelly and can remain easily open at the top.  The Birkin has two handles when the Kelly has only one handle.
The Birkin bag, created after Jane Birkin, the haute-hip English born but a long term resident of France is more flexible than the Kelly and can remain easily open at the top. The Birkin has two handles when the Kelly has only one handle.

Older than Louis Vuitton as a brand, Hermes is the epitome of elegance and style.  An Institution in the “savoir fare” (know how to).  In 1837 Hermes was already the leader in saddle horse making, requested by Royal Houses.  Today; from the hands of the same family, the tradition continues, evolving in smaller accessories and luxury objects of desire, the must have: bags, foulards, belts, etc.

The Hermes, horse and chariot logo.  The Maison was created by Thierry Hermes (1801-1878)
The Hermes, horse and chariot logo. The Maison was created by Thierry Hermes (1801-1878)
Enamel bracelets House of Hermes artistic vision.  Detail from the Great Odalisque by Ingress, 1814.
Enamel bracelets. Maison d’Hermes artistic vision. Detail from the Great Odalisque by Ingres, 1814 (oil on canvas) at The Louvre, Paris.
The iconic Hermes belt
The iconic Hermes belt
"The Carre" made under the Lyonese school of twill silk making.
“The Carre” made under the Lyonese old school of twill silk making. The Hermes scarf is a style icon, worn by Royalty and celebrities, coveted and admired, is not only a square of silk but a stuff of legend.
And for those avid fashion readers I recommend this book by Nadine Cole.  Since the first scarf made in 1937, the House of Hermes has produced more than two thousand different designs.
And for those avid fashion readers I recommend this book by Nadine Cole. Since the first scarf made in 1937, the House of Hermes has produced more than two thousand different designs

(c) 2013 Montserrat Franco

Flavors and aromas of the Sorrento Coast

I finally arrived to the Sorrento Coast and my first stop is at the cliffs of Vico Equense, of Etruscan origins this little town has a lot to offer from the dramatic panoramas to pizza by the meter or Michelin Guide Starred Restaurants.  The Sorrento Peninsula is definitely an unforgettable culinary experience.

A view from the Saracen Tower (Torre del Saracino) dated from the VII century.  Here is located one of the best Restaurants of Italy "Torre del Saraceno" by Chef Gennaro Sposito
A view from the Saracen Tower (Torre del Saracino) dated from the VII century. Here is located one of the best Restaurants of Italy “Torre del Saraceno” by Chef Gennaro Sposito

But who where the Saracens and why they came to this part of Italy? Around the 455 AD the coast was invaded by Arab tribes, many watchtowers can still be seen on the cliffs to prepare the inhabitants for further attacks.  Saracen was a term for Muslims widely used in Europe during the Medieval Era.

Now a brief tour of the tasting menu at The Saracen Tower, enjoy!

And I can only describe as "sublime" each of the well deserved Michelin stars of the creative Chef Sposito, pictured here one of the starters from his sampling Menu, all made with organic ingredients grown on his own sustainable garden.
And I can only describe as “sublime” each of the well deserved Michelin stars of the creative Chef Sposito, pictured here one of the starters from his sampling Menu, all made with organic ingredients grown on his own sustainable garden. The fusion of truffles and spices gives this soufflé an interesting approach to the fusion of 2 worlds.
The pistachio and herb aromatic bed for the prawns, crusted nuts and beet sauce on the side
The pistachio and herb aromatic bed for the prawns, crusted nuts and beet sauce on the side
Local caught treasures of the sea naturally steamed on a base of hot stones well paired with Scala Fenicia wine of Capri
Local caught treasures of the sea naturally steamed on a base of hot stones well paired with Scala Fenicia wine of Capri
Raw squid on its own ink
Raw squid on its own ink
The maître offering a selection of the finest Italian, Belgium and Swiss blocks of chocolates with choice of aged rum, Armagnac, cognacs and other selected digestives.
The maître offering a selection of the finest Italian, Belgium and Swiss blocks of chocolates with choice of aged rum, Armagnac, cognacs and digestives.
Exploring the cellar located in the basement of the  Tower of Saracino.  As a sommelier this was such an amazing experience.
Exploring the cellar located at the lower part of the Tower of Saracino. As a sommelier this is always such an amazing experience, I am going over the vintages, the wide selection of local growers as well as the main growing Regions of Italy: Piedmont, Tuscany, Alto Adige and Veneto.
The Master Sommelier guiding me around the cellar of the Saracen Tower.
The Master Sommelier guiding me around the cellar of the Saracen Tower.
The turquoise waters of the Gulf of Sorrento with the majestic Vesuvius.
The turquoise waters of the Gulf of Sorrento with the majestic Vesuvius.
Fiat 500, when it comes to traveling around the Sorrento Peninsula I choose the Cinquecento, easy to park and get around the coastline.
Fiat 500, when it comes to traveling the Sorrento Peninsula I choose the Cinquecento, easy to park and get around the coastline.
Sea Bass on a bed of spice pumpkin sauce topped with a grilled prawn at Signum Cubo Restaurant in Vico Equense.
Sea Bass on a bed of spiced pumpkin sauce topped with a grilled prawn at Signum Cubo Restaurant in Vico Equense. A casual restaurant inside a boutique hotel in Vico.
At Cubo Signum a selection of crudos from salmon to grouper and tuna
At Cubo Signum a selection of crudos from salmon to grouper and tuna
Grilled salmon with avocado sauce, the fusion of Asian and Mediterranean cuisine.
Grilled salmon with avocado sauce, the fusion of Asian and Mediterranean cuisine.
The Mimosa it's a traditional sponge cake of the Sorrento coast filled with a delicious lemon cream
The Mimosa it’s a traditional sponge cake of the Sorrento coast filled with a delicious lemon cream
The Bar at Signum Cubo
The Bar at Signum Cubo
The warm setting of Cubo Boutique Hotel in Vico Equense
The warm setting of Cubo Boutique Hotel in Vico Equense
Skating on ice in Vico Equense
Skating on ice in Vico Equense, it’s one of the family activities during the Holidays
The Procession during the Three Kings festivities at the Piazetta of Vico
The colorful procession during the Three Kings festivities at the Piazetta of Vico. The three King’s day is celebrated with a Holy procession in many small Italian towns. I was able to watch it from my Hotel balcony.
The procession during the Festivities of the Three Kings at Vico Equense
The parade during the Festivities of the Three Kings at Vico Equense just like in many Italian towns this is an ancient tradition goes back to the late 6th century.
The famous Pizza a metro, a favorite with locals, this restaurant has been serving since the 1930's
The famous Pizza a metro, a favorite with locals, this restaurant has been serving since the 1930’s
The colorful harbour of Vico Equense just at walking distance from the Saracen Tower.
The colorful harbour of Vico Equense just at walking distance from the Saracen Tower.
So I stopped by the charming restaurant of Le Ancore Hotel in Vico Equense and tasted this delicious peppered mixed seafood "impepata di frutti misti di mare" a local tradition
So I stopped by the charming restaurant of Le Ancore Hotel in Vico Equense and tasted this delicious peppered mixed seafood “impepata di frutti misti di mare” a local tradition
Another reach plate of fresh seafood including marinated anchovies, fresh Gulf shrimp, octopus,  stuffed squids, grilled fish and langostinos
Another reach plate of fresh seafood including marinated anchovies, fresh Gulf shrimp, octopus, stuffed squids, grilled fish and langostinos
The famous Sorrento lemons, freshly squeezed to make "granitas" (frozen lemonade) in the summer or the dessert liquor limoncello
The famous Sorrento lemons, freshly squeezed to make “granitas” (frozen lemonade) in the summer or the dessert liquor limoncello
Remember that traditional Neapolitan song "Torna a Surriento" this is a town that will definitely make you come back.
Remember that traditional Neapolitan song “Torna a Surriento” this is a town that will definitely make you come back.
The lemons here are enormous, don't forget to try the "Delizia al Limone" a tarty dessert that has the characteristic flavor of Sorrento's traditional citric.
The lemons here are enormous, don’t forget to try the “Delizia al Limone” a tarty dessert that has the characteristic flavor of Sorrento’s traditional citric.
Organic grown oranges from Sorrento are used to make this excellent jam produced by Casa Barone approved by The Slow Food Commission
Organic grown oranges from Sorrento are used to make this excellent jam produced by Casa Barone approved by The Slow Food Commission

 

Juicy and red tomatoes, creamy white mozzarella di Bufala, ricotta and fior di latte, fragrant green basil, topped with a swirl of olive oil.  The mix of intense flavors and vivid colors, is characteristic of a cuisine that reflect the region’s Mediterranean climate.  Dishes rely on their success because of the freshness of the local ingredients.  Getting the fish fresh from the harbor is still part of the local life; sword fish, anchovies, mackerel and sardines; clams, mussels, octopus, squid and cuttlefish are served in dozens of ways including pasta.

But when in Sorrento, don’t forget to try the “Gnocchi alla Sorrentina”, the “Delizia al limone” and a sip of “limoncello”; you are on your way to a longer and healthy life.  Salute!

Capri : A rock in the middle of the sea (Uno scoglio in mezzo al mare)

The Faraglioni, the island distinguished rock formations.
The Faraglioni, the island distinguished rock formations.

The myth about Capri goes back to Homer’s epic tale “The Odyssey” when Ulysses and his troop were going back to Troy, they couldn’t resist the temptation to hear the seductive songs of the Sirens around today’s Capri, they filled out their ears with wax so they won’t listen to the Sirens and kept navigating but they crashed in to the stones and vanished.

Of course you won’t vanish like Ulysses’ troops in Capri but you will be so tempted by the natural beauty.  One of the trips you can do is on a boat to the Grotta Azzurra (The Blue Grotto) where Romans used to worship the waters.

A view from The Punta Tragara Hotel
A view from The Punta Tragara Hotel

Capri is the world’s first resort, dating back Emperor Augustus (29 B.C.) at that time Capri was under Naples rule, Augustus gave to Naples the Island of Ischia and turned Capri in to his very own private Resort. Today you can enjoy the magnificence of the oldest resort in the world just like Jacky O, Audrey Hepburn, Rita Hayworth and many more celebrities and film stars did in the 1950’s when international tourism arrived to Capri.

La Piazzetta
Capri is so charming, an island so fashionable with unique style. Just stop by the Piazzetta where you can watch the locals wearing their impeccable white pants sipping limoncellos at sunset.
Arriving to Marina Grande.  Capri is about 4 square miles, easy to explore.  Being there gives you a sensation of being apart from the world, because cars are prohibited in such a small island, you need to walk everywhere.
Arriving to Marina Grande. Capri is about 4 square miles, easy to explore. Being there gives you a sensation of being apart from the world, because cars are prohibited in such a small island, you need to walk everywhere.

When coming to Capri, don’t expect to rush anything (piano, piano) slowly slowly, this is the land of the “Dolce far niente” (sweet idleness).  Act like a local, walking the streets Jacky walked, a good excuse to get your hand made sandals to your measure by the local handcrafters, wear oversized sunglasses, a silk foulard in your head and capri pants.

"The charm of Capri then and even now, is that little by little you become part and parcel of life on the island, and as small as it is, there are always new discoveries" (Cyril Dwek)
“The charm of Capri then and even now, is that little by little you become part and parcel of life on the island, and as small as it is, there are always new discoveries” (Cyril Dwek)
The first evidence of humans, tools, weapons and pottery were found in Anacapri, the village above Capri, early Greek colonists called Teleboians who arrived in the 8th century B.C,  (Pictured here a view from Villa San Michelle)
The first evidence of humans, tools, weapons and pottery were found in Anacapri, the village above Capri, early Greek colonists called Teleboians who arrived in the 8th century B.C, (Pictured here a view from Anacapri’s Villa San Michelle)
The Etruscan sphinx at Villa San Michelle
The Etruscan sphinx at Villa San Michelle

There are many theories about the name Capri, a popular one says that it comes from the Greek “kapros” (wild boar) but the most widely theory is that it derives from the Latin “capreae” (goats) which makes sense been a referred as the Goat Island.

After Augustus died (poisoned or not by his wife Livia) his successor Tiberius took possession of Augustus villas converting them in a place for banquets and orgies, this lifestyle which is part of Capri's historical facts can be seen on Gore Vidal's film "Caligula"
After Augustus died, his successor Tiberius took possession of Augustus villas converting them in a place for banquets and good times, this lifestyle can be remembered on Gore Vidal’s film “Caligula”
The gardens at Villa San Michelle in Anacapri
The gardens at Villa San Michelle in Anacapri
When you walk around Capri one famous sightseeing is Villa Jovis, the residence of Tiberius, he named that way in honor to Jove (Jupiter) the God of conviviality
When you walk around Capri one famous sightseeing is Villa Jovis, the residence of Tiberius, he named that way in honor to Jove (Jupiter) the God of conviviality
One of the many villas you will see while walking around Capri
One of the many villas you will see while walking around Capri
The courtyard at La Scalinatella Hotel
The courtyard at La Scalinatella Hotel was home of the couturier Valentino, now owned by the Morano family, is where Churchill and Maria Callas used to party.
La Caponata Caprese, one of my favorite restaurants in Capri is Edode where you can taste their version of "caponata caprese" made with buffalo mozzarella, anchovies, kalamata olives, basil, zucchini, tomatoes and fresh pressed extra virgin olive oil under a bed of whole wheat bread dipped in water and olive oil.
La Caponata Caprese, one of my favorite restaurants in Capri is Edode where you can taste their version of “caponata caprese” made with buffalo mozzarella, anchovies, kalamata olives, basil, zucchini, tomatoes and fresh pressed extra virgin olive oil under a bed of whole wheat bread dipped in water and olive oil.
The Caprese cuisine is fresh, simple and less complicated,  the fish brought technically from the sea to the table with a few hours of being caught.  The sword fish pictured here was seasoned with just fresh aromatic herbs, lemon and olive oil.
The Caprese cuisine is fresh, simple and less complicated, the fish brought technically from the sea to the table with a few hours of being caught. The sword fish pictured here was seasoned with just fresh aromatic herbs, lemon and olive oil.
On this tiny island everything seems to taste better, pictured here the infamous Tiramisu
On this tiny island everything seems to taste better, pictured here the infamous Tiramisu
In the winter of 1952 Pablo Neruda stayed and composed during his exile at the home of prominent Caprese Edwin Cerio
In the winter of 1952 Pablo Neruda stayed and composed during his exile at the home of prominent Caprese Edwin Cerio

The iconic Caprese boutique “La Parisienne” is perhaps known for the famous Capri trousers, here is where Jacky Kennedy Onassis used to have hers tailor made. Michael Kors was for years a guest at The Grand Hotel Quisisana and he described the view from the terrace facing Via Camerelle as the front row of a fashion show. Fashion designer Oscar de La Renta went to Capri to receive the award “Tiberio d’oro” at Mare Moda, the island notorious fashion show. Valentino, Givenchy, Gianfranco Ferre, Missoni, they all came personally to show at Mare Moda.

When Emilio Pucci opened his first boutique in 1950 it was in Capri, his vivid prints  were so characteristic with Capri's vivid spirit, his boutique in Via Camerelle still stands.
When Emilio Pucci opened his first boutique in 1950 it was in Capri, his vivid prints
were so characteristic with Capri’s vivid spirit, his boutique in Via Camerelle still stands.
The Missoni boutique right next to the historic Hotel La Palma
The Missoni boutique right next to the historic Hotel La Palma
A more recent addition to Capri's fashion: The Capri watch, has the emblematic clock of the Piazzetta.
A more recent addition to Capri’s fashion: The Capri watch, has the emblematic clock of the Piazzetta.
Montserrat Franco Sphinx Capri Sandal
The tradition of sandal making in Capri is known worldwide. My sandal collection is originally made in Capri with 100% Italian leather and Swarovski crystals.
Capri style
Wearing the Capri style

Capri is more than a rock in the middle of the sea, Capri is a lifestyle, the concept of chic and casual was immortalized here and will be here to stay. If we are not the privileged ones that can make Capri our home we can
still live… the Capri way, salute!!!

(c) 2013 Montserrat Franco. All pictures taken by me.  Additional Photo credits: Benny Galasso-Bely Franco.

For more info on Montserrat Franco sandals made in Capri, visit the store at:

http://www.store.montserratfranco.com

Great trips around Italy on a Vespa: The Amalfi Coast

 

One of the greatest trips with breathtaking views are around the Amalfi Coast, most of these trips can be done  a weekend, again the Vespa is one of the best transportations when it comes to getting around those narrowed roads
One of the greatest trips with breathtaking views are around the Amalfi Coast, the Vespa is one of the preferred transportations when it comes to getting around those narrowed roads

Going to the Amalfi Coast is certainly memorable and a unique experience, the story of Amalfi is linked to the nymph Melphe, the apple of Hercule’s eye and the legend says that he built a city so high on the cliffs to buried her when she died but there is another theory; when Romans lived here in the IV century named it Melfi.

In recent years Unesco has included the Amalfi Coast in its world Heritage sites
In recent years Unesco has included the Amalfi Coast in its world Heritage sites

Suspended between the sea, sky ad earth the state road 163 twists and turns in an almost never ending path around the Coast, it has stunning views from every corner.  In the 19th century access to the Amalfi coast was very difficult and possible only by the mountains in mules.  By the 1900’s the isolation of this part of Italy attracted many travelers. In Edwardian times the coast became a destination of choice by British aristocrats, later actors such as Humphrey Bogart, Greta Garbo and Sophia Loren  brought fame to the area.

You can find some of the best well kept secret restaurants of Italy (Michellin stars and local eateries) with amazing menus that are well worth the narrowed roadside trip and the headache.

A view from the Amalfi coastline
A view from the Amalfi coastline

Arriving to Nerano

nerano
The first stop in the Amalfi coast is the quiet fishermen village of Nerano, part of Massa Lubrense. Below is the town of Marina del Cantone popular for its small seafront and restaurants, here is the Star Michelin Restaurant “La Taverna del Capitano”

 

Fior di zucca ripiena (stuffed zucchini flower) How beautiful is to eat a flower stuffed with fresh ricotta cheese on a bed of summer tomato sauce
Fior di zucca ripiena (stuffed zucchini flower) How beautiful is to eat a flower stuffed with fresh ricotta cheese on a bed of summer tomato sauce.

 

capitano 2
Taverna del Capitano; a family tradition from grandfather Alfonso to son Salvatore Caputo who is one of the youngest recognized star Chefs of Southern Italy. Pictured here marinated spigola (European sea bass) covered with grilled aubergine, with zucchinis in julienne, cherry tomatoes and a bed of aromatic herb sauce. I paired this dish with Marisa Cuomo’s Amalfi Coast Fior D’Uva wine.

la taverna del capitano
Spaghetti alla Nerano, since you are in Nerano you must try this fresh hand made pasta which definitely tastes better with the fantastic view. It is characteristic with the bold flavors of the Provolone del Monaco cheese and slices of zucchini.

 

On my way to Positano I stopped to admire the view
On my way to Positano I stopped to admire the view

 

View from La Sirenuse Hotel in Positano, great place for an aperitif at sunset
View from Le Sirenuse Hotel in Positano, great place for an aperitif at sunset
Positano.  In 1953 John Steinbeck wrote that "Positano bites deep, it is a dream place that isn't quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone"
Positano. In 1953 John Steinbeck wrote that “Positano bites deep, it is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone”
The view from Le Sirenuse Hotel opened in 1951 when the Marchesi Sersale turned their summer house in to a charming Hotel.
The view from Le Sirenuse Hotel opened in 1951 when the Marchesi Sersale turned their summer house in to a charming Hotel.
Mozzarella di Bufala.  I stopped at Next Café in Positano to savor this fresh traditional soft cheese eaten only within a day or so of being made, solely from the milk of water buffalo.  In the Amalfi coast the Buffalo mozzarella is produced in Tramonti.
Mozzarella di Bufala. I stopped at Next Café in Positano to savor this fresh traditional soft cheese eaten only within a day or so of being made, solely from the milk of water buffalo. In the Amalfi coast the Buffalo mozzarella is produced in Tramonti.

 

On my way to Praiano, Marina di Praia

 

Furore, before arriving to Amalfi I had to make a stop and contemplate the Fiordo of Furore, fishermen houses clinging on the rocky mountains.  Be aware of the many steps you will need to climb from the road to the beach and careful with that 2 way road that fits only one car at a time.
Before arriving to Amalfi I had to make a stop and contemplate the Fiordo of Furore, fishermen houses clinging on the rocky mountains. Be aware of the many steps you will need to climb from the road to the beach and careful with that 2 way road that fits only one car at a time.

Amalfi

Amalfi  has the glamour of the once glorious maritime Republic, the Duomo di St Andrea was founded in the 9th century and rebuilt in Romanesque style in the 11th century.  The campanile is is decorated with Arabic like interlaced arches, typical of the Southern Italian
Amalfi has the glamour of the once glorious maritime Republic, the Duomo di St Andrea was founded in the 9th century and rebuilt in Romanesque style in the 11th century. The campanile is is decorated with Arabic like interlaced arches, typical of the Southern Italian Romanesque.
I stop for some readings at the Piazza Duomo before heading to one of my favorite restaurants "Da Gemma"
A pause at Piazza Duomo before heading to one of my favorite restaurants “Da Gemma”
Fresh fish is important part of the Amalfi cuisine, the flavor and freshness of the fish should shine and not be masked with many flavors
Fresh fish is important part of the Amalfi cuisine, the flavor and freshness of the fish should shine and not be masked with many flavors
The food from the Amalfi coast features more fish, lemons and herbs.  Pictured here one of the dishes served at Da Gemma
The food from the Amalfi coast features fish seasoned with lemons and herbs. Pictured here sea bass served at Da Gemma paired with the local white wine Marisa Cuomo’s Costa d’Amalfi Furore is a superb blend of 60% Falanghina grapes and 40% Biancolella
"Melanzane di Cioccolato" is a hybrid of a lasagna like made for dessert with eggplant covered in hot chocolate sauce and chips of caramelized fruit, sugar covered almonds and nuts served with vanilla ice cream and a syrup snowflake for garnish
“Parmigiana di Melanzane al Cioccolato” (Baked Aubergine with chocolate) is a hybrid made for dessert with eggplant covered in hot chocolate sauce and chips of caramelized fruit, sugar covered almonds and nuts served with vanilla ice cream and a syrup snowflake for garnish
Sweet ending with macchiato (as I can't take my espresso is too strong) and a variety of home made cookies and flavored pop corn
Sweet ending once more with macchiato (as I can’t take my espresso is too strong) and a variety of home made cookies and flavored popcorn

 

 

 

Ravello was part of the Duchy of Amalfi in the 9th century.  Villa Rufolo is one of Ravello's landmarks by excellance, with Arabic elements and a mixture of 13th and 14th centuries architectural styles
Ravello was part of the Duchy of Amalfi in the 9th century. Villa Rufolo is one of Ravello’s landmarks with Arabic elements and a mixture of 13th and 14th centuries architectural styles

 

A view from Villa Rufolo's amphitheater, the Ravello's annual Music Festival takes place here in July.  Here is where Richard Wagner got his inspiration to write his Opera "Parsifal"
A view from Villa Rufolo’s amphitheater, the Ravello’s annual Music Festival takes place here in July. Also in this place is where Richard Wagner got his inspiration to write his Opera “Parsifal”

Maiori, Minori and Cetara

the next towns along the coastline are Maiori, Minori and Cetara where the ancient Maritime Republic arsenals were situated, dates back to Roman times.
Stopping at Sal Di Riso's bakery is a must while in Minori, Salvatore di Riso was the first Pastry Chef from Southern Italy to be admitted in to the prestigious Italian Master Pastry Chef Academy.  His renowned cakes and desserts are world famous, Pope John Paul II approved.
Stopping at Sal Di Riso’s bakery is a must while in Minori, Salvatore di Riso was the first Pastry Chef from Southern Italy to be admitted in to the prestigious Italian Master Pastry Chef Academy. His renowned cakes and desserts are world famous, Pope John Paul II approved.

 

Vietri sul Mare

Arriving to Vietri sul Mare will lead you to some traditional shops where you can get the best deals on majolica ceramic that made so popular this part of the Coast, these hand painted utensils have been made here since the 1400
Arriving to Vietri sul Mare will lead you to some traditional shops where you can get the best deals on majolica ceramic that made so popular this part of the Coast, these hand painted utensils have been made here since the 1400
I love to go to the Amalfi Coast in winter as well
After my last stop at Vietri sul Mare I am ready to head back to Naples. I love to go to the Amalfi Coast in winter as well.
I made my way back by the woods instead of using the coast line road.  The first traces of snow were there and it was extremely cold but as a sunny Floridian I had to touch the snow, I just had to
I made my way back by the woods instead of using the coastline road. The first traces of snow were there in November and it was extremely cold but as a sunny Floridian I had to touch the snow, I just had to

 

 

 

 

A room with a view. From The San Martino cloisters

A room with a view from The cloisters of San Martino in Naples
A room with a view from The cloisters of San Martino in Naples

Continuing with our trips around Naples at the top of the hill is one of the most important monuments in the city, the Certosa di San Martino (San Martino’s charterhouse).  You can reach this part of town from Chiaia via de funiculars or by Vespa which is the best way of transportation in Naples due to traffic, the narrowed streets and of course…the parking, besides getting around on a Vespa can only make your trip in Italian cities even more authentic.

After the unification of Italy the San Martino cloisters and the National Museum of San Martino were restructured.  Originally built in the XIV century.
After the unification of Italy the San Martino cloisters were drastically restructured. Originally built in the XIV century, part of the complex was turned in to a Museum. From there the dramatic views of the Gulf of Naples and the Vesuvius.
In 1325 the construction of the cloister begun under the rules of Charles of Anjou.  The Monastery was deconsecrated in 1806 and since 1866 became a Museum displaying the greatest pieces of Neapolitan art and history
In 1325 the construction of the cloister begun under the rules of Charles of Anjou. The Monastery was deconsecrated in 1806 and since 1866 became a Museum displaying the greatest pieces of Neapolitan art and history
Carthusian monks lived in the Monastery designed by Giovanni Antonio Dosio at the end of the XVI century.  The original look dramatically changed over the years with Baroque and Mannerist rebuilding.
Carthusian monks lived in the Monastery designed by Giovanni Antonio Dosio at the end of the XVI century. The original look dramatically changed over the years with Baroque and Mannerist rebuilding.
Inside the Museum of San Martino there are permanent and itinerant exhibitions like the Bourbon Royal Boat from an exhibit in collaboration with the Naval Museum of Naples.
Inside the Museum of San Martino there are permanent and itinerant exhibitions like the Bourbon Royal Boat from an exhibit in collaboration with the Naval Museum of Naples.
From the Aragonese to the Bourbon dynasties the Museum of San Martino presents important pieces dedicated to the Kingdom of Naples.
From the Aragonese to the Bourbon dynasties the Museum of San Martino presents important pieces dedicated to the Kingdom of Naples.
The Nativity scenes (Presepe) became a form of art and a very important part of the Neapolitan tradition in the 19th century.  This part of the Museum of dedicates an entire section to The Presepe.
The Nativity scenes (Presepe) became a form of art and a very important part of the Neapolitan tradition in the 19th century. This part of the Museum dedicates an entire section to The Presepe.
Another scene of the Nativity I found on display at The Grand Hotel Vesuvio in Naples during the presentation of the "Duemilla Vini" guide to the wines in Italy.  Note the attention to the details and how simple acts of life take active part in the Presepe Napoletano
Another scene of the Nativity I found on display at The Grand Hotel Vesuvio in Naples during the presentation of the “Duemilla Vini” guide to the wines in Italy. Note the attention to the details and how simple acts of life take active part in the Presepe Napoletano
Even Pulcinella is part of the Presepe (Nativity) Pulcinella is a classical character from the "commedia dell'arte" and is a traditional character in the Neapolitan puppetry both contemporary with the art of Nativity craft in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Even Pulcinella is part of the Presepe (Nativity) Pulcinella is a classical character from the “commedia dell’arte” and is a tradition in the Neapolitan puppetry. It shows how characters from different periods of time are mixed up, note the hanging baccala (cod fish) the provolone del Monaco cheese, the ugly tomatoes on a basket.

 

Pause for Coffee

In Naples coffee is a ceremony, the Neapolitans love their espressos very strong and you can have them everywhere, plenty of historic coffee shops and pasticcerias (cake shops) offering a wide range of coffee brands, many of them born in Naples such as Pasalacqua and Kenon.  In fact the moka pot (Napoletana) is a Neapolitan invention dated back from the late 19th centuries.

Coffee time in Naples is anytime, I take mine macchiato (with a dash of foam) if you are watching the line ask for "dietor" a low calorie non aspartame sweetener  because they will assume you will drink your coffee with sugar.
Coffee time in Naples is anytime, I take mine macchiato (with a dash of foam) if you are watching the line ask for “dietor” a low calorie non aspartame sweetener because they will assume you will drink your coffee with sugar.
coffee break and newspaper readings in Piazza Vanvitelli at the Vomero quarter
coffee break and newspaper readings in Piazza Vanvitelli at the Vomero quarter
Scaturchio, one of the traditional coffee and cake shops in the Vomero quartier right next to the Funiculare station.
Scaturchio, one of the traditional coffee and cake shops in the Vomero quarter right next to the Funiculare station.
Café Biandini , as you can see most coffee shops in Italy sell more than coffee,  they are also a bar, a bakery and most of them offer a lunch menu and aperitif buffet from 5 pm.  I love the elegant uniforms their trained baristas wear.
Café Biandini , as you can see most coffee shops in Italy sell more than coffee, they are also a bar, a bakery and some offer a lunch menu and aperitif buffet from 5 pm. I love the elegant uniforms their trained baristas wear.

Italians know if someone is not Italian when they order cappuccinos during the day, afternoon or after a meal.  Cappuccinos are meant to be drunk only with breakfast, with those delicious “cornettis” (pastries).  After lunch or diner they drink their espressos.  Coffee is a way of expression and is a form of art.  Enjoy an espresso before or after your Museum visit.  See you tomorrow!!!

A classic Italian breakfast: cappuccino, orange juice and cornettis, the pastries can plain or filled with nutella, marmalade or chocolate.
A classic Italian breakfast: cappuccino, orange juice and cornettis, the pastries can be plain or filled with nutella, marmalade or chocolate.

(c) 2013 Montserrat Franco.  All pictures by me taken with IPhone 4S and Sony Cybershot.

Viaggio Italiano (Italian Journey)

The picturesque Borgo Marinaro quarter built for the fishermen of Santa Lucia
The picturesque Borgo Marinaro quarter built for the fishermen of Santa Lucia

Italy keeps inspiring most of us over and over, it is everything from the Arts to the Music, from the Architecture to the Fashion, from the History to the wine and food.

Naples is one of the cities that fascinates me with incredible characteristics and the magnificent views of the Vesuvius, wherever your position is, you will be able to have that postcard illusion.  Here you need to take your time, to eat and drink like a local, don’t bring your watch, time here seems like it never goes by, it is the perfect way to feel that “La Dolce Vita” style.

Borgo Marinaro, Marecchiaro and Santa Lucia

One of the romantic walks around Naples is by the Lungomare in the Santa Lucia neighborhood, with plenty of restaurants to choose from surrounded by colorful sun kissed boats lining around the “Borgo Marinaro” (the fishermen’s quarter).  Naples inspired also the most romantic Italian songs (canzonettas) and it’s here in this quarter where they were born.  In Naples everything is about love, food and the simple life, just experience it for yourself.

The Lungomare was frequented by Sophia Loren and Salvador Dali and you can still have the same taste and get your inner diva and glamour do the rest, just put on some huge sunglasses with a little black dress and enjoy a glass of Falanghina wine which is the perfect pair with any of the local seafood dishes.

A view from the Lungomare where you can find plenty of restaurants, one better tha the other
A view from the Lungomare where you can find plenty of restaurants, one better than the other
Castel dell"Ovo, the oldest castle in Naples dated back to Roman times.  In the 5th century it was a Monastery, many additions and changes were added through times.
Castel dell”Ovo, the oldest castle in Naples dated back to Roman times. In the 5th century it was a Monastery, many additions and changes were added through times.

The legend around the Castel dell”Ovo and the particular name first appears in the XIV century and it talks about a magic egg that was hidden in the castle.  Today the castle with his particular tufa walls is home of art exhibitions and retrospectives that can be visited by the public.

Stepping for some water at the fountain in the Castel dell'Ovo, ballerina flats are recommended for long walks, I always keep a pair in my handbag.
Stepping for some water at the fountain in the Castel dell’Ovo, ballerina flats are recommended for long walks, I always keep a pair in my handbag.
The Immacolatella Fountain built in the XVII century
The Immacolatella Fountain built in the XVII century
One great place to eat in Marecchiaro is Trattoria Da Cicciotto with the splendid view of the Vesuvius and a glass of Falanghina
One great place to eat in Marecchiaro is Trattoria Da Cicciotto with the splendid view of the Vesuvius and a glass of Falanghina
At Marecchiaro don't forget to follow the waiter's advice and take the antipasti della casa (house appetizers) they will keep bringing them before your main course; experience the flavors and simplicity of the fresh dishes by the sea
At Marecchiaro don’t forget to follow the waiter’s advice and take the antipasti della casa (house appetizers) they will keep bringing them before your main course; experience the flavors and simplicity of the fresh dishes by the sea.
One of the appetizers served at Da Cicciotto is this amazing octopus on fresh squeezed pomodorini (cherry tomatoes) and pieces of home made toasted bread.  Buon apetito!!!
One of the appetizers served at Da Cicciotto is this amazing octopus on fresh squeezed pomodorini (cherry tomatoes) and pieces of home made toasted bread. Buon appetito!!!
Walking by the Port in Santa Lucia with hand crafted sandals made in Capri and getting some of that "O' Sole Mio" feeling.
Walking by the Port in Santa Lucia with hand crafted sandals made in Capri and getting some of that “O’ Sole Mio” feeling.
Octopus salad seasoned with just extra virgin olive oil, lemons from Sorrento and parsley.  Experience the taste of the Gulf and you will taste the difference.
Octopus salad seasoned with just extra virgin olive oil, lemons from Sorrento and parsley. Experience the taste of the Gulf of Naples, stop by “Anima e Cozze” one of the many Restaurants of the Lungomare.
Grilled Calamari seasoned with just lemon juice and olive oil at Anima e Cozze restaurant.
Grilled Calamari seasoned with just lemon juice and olive oil at Anima e Cozze restaurant.
After all these appetizers you need to get some pasta, remember why Sophia Loren said that everything she has was she owes to spaghetti, so forget about diets and eat this great "spaghetti alle vongole" a must have while in Naples and one of the traditional dishes of the "Parthenopean cuisine" most restaurants in Naples serve this dish
After all these appetizers you need to get some pasta, remember why Sophia Loren said that everything she was she owes to spaghetti, so forget about diets and eat this great “spaghetti alle vongole” a must have while in Naples and one of the traditional dishes of the “Parthenopean cuisine” most restaurants in Naples serve this dish just like it suppose to be “al dente”. Another great restaurant in the Borgo Marinaro is “Oste Pazzo” where I had this home made pasta.

After lunch at the Borgo Marinaro or Santa Lucia a short walk to the chic Chiaia neighborhood it’s a must for the designers stores and the majestic architecture.

Chiaia

Walking with stilettos can be difficult in Naples because of the cobbler stone streets but if you want to travel in style and walk in style everything has a price.  Italian women know how to master this game.
Walking with stilettos can be difficult in Naples because of the cobbler stone streets but if you want to travel in style and walk in style everything has a price. Italian women know how to master this game.

Naples can be a city with many contradictions, narrowed claustrophobic streets full of Vespas and chaotic traffic or wide avenues with the most glamorous shops and ladies covered in fur and designer handbags.  While in Chiaia experience both sides, take a look at the Fascist era architecture and monuments and don’t forget it’s time for an aperitif, our version of Happy Hour, Italian Style, somewhere around 5 to 7 pm. Chiaia gives many options when it comes to aperitif, the difference is that with one drink most bars offer a full buffet of appetizers and nibbles, all self service but with moderation, remember soon will be time for dinner.

One of the trendy barettis (little bars) in Chiaia it is definitely where the nightlife is in Naples.  You can always meet locals and friends at the "aperitivo" time.
One of the trendy barettis (little bars) in Chiaia it is definitely where the nightlife is in Naples. You can always meet locals and friends at the “aperitivo” time. Try an “Aperol spritz” or a “Prosecco” with some ready served appetizers before heading out for dinner at one of the many great restaurants in town.
The Chiaia quarter during Christmas time, shopping can be also a challenge in Naples, remember that everything closes from noon to 3or 4 pm and then reopens until 7  o 8 pm.
The Chiaia quarter during Christmas time, shopping can be also a challenge in Naples, remember that everything closes from noon to 3 or 4 pm and then reopens until 7 o 8 pm.
Chiaia is also full of vintage stores, art galleries and antique shops.
Chiaia is also full of vintage stores, art galleries and antique shops.
The Georgio Armani store in Chiaia showing some of the fantastic designs by Armani for the red carpet.
The Georgio Armani store in Chiaia showing some of the fantastic designs by Armani for the red carpet.

Well, I think has been a long day and you need some rest because tomorrow you will be visiting more wonderful monuments, eating amazing food and tasting excellent wines, what a wonderful life!!!

(c) 2013 Montserrat Franco.  All pictures by me taken with an IPhone 4, 4S and Sony Cybershot