Tuesday, July 19, 2011

San Nicola Arcella, Italy - A long weekend in Calabria (Day 2)

Day two in paradise, I again woke up to brilliant sunshine, and this amazing view of the Golfo di Policastro from my bedroom window (just stunning how the bougainvillea seems to frame this picture). We decided to skip the beach club today and take the boat out so that we could have lunch in neighboring Maratea, and of course a refreshing swim in whatever little cove we felt like dropping anchor.

our boat

On our way, we passed the statue of Christ the Reedemer in Maratea, built completely of Cararra marble, and known to seamen as the 'faceless Christ' because his face looks inland towards the basilica and not out to the sea. 

Maratea's Christ the Redeemer statue built by a Florentine sculptor

Our first stop was at Lido Secca, where we all jumped off the boat and went for a swim in turquoise blue waters.
Jumping off the boat into turquoise waters. Guess which (pale) one of us lives in London?!?!

Next, we pulled anchor and drove to the port of Maratea, where we docked and got off for a lunch of fresh salads, bruschette, and piadine at Il Clubbino, right on the port.
Port of Maratea

Looking out to the port of Maratea from Il Clubbino, our lunch spot

Yummy tomato and mozzarella bruschetta

After lunch we hopped back on the boat and returned to La Secca to meet friends for an espresso and a gelato, in the shade overlooking the sea.

The beautiful view from La Secca
After double kissing friends goodbye, we swam back to the boat and headed towards home, but not before stopping to anchor for one last swim behind the Isola di Dino (which we look out onto from the terrace of the house), known for its grotta azzurra (blue cave) where you can swim in crystal blue waters surrounded by fish.

Looking out onto the Island of Dino from the house
Once home and showered we walked to the little historical town square of San Nicola Arcella, where the Italian grandmothers sit outside in plastic chairs in front of their houses to chat. The close-knit locals of this town can spot a tourist from a mile away.
Town square of San Nicola Arcella

Walking up to Il Vicolo Vineria in the historical old town

The most happening spot is a tiny wine bar called Il Vicolo Vineria, where you sit on cushions on steps sipping local wine and munching snacks or sweet cakes under the shadow of the church’s bell tower. If you ever visit San Nicola Arcella, you must absolutely come here for a pre or post dinner drink! It is worth browsing the photos on their website to get a real flavor of the quaintness of this bar.

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

San Nicola Arcella, Italy - A long weekend in Calabria

Woke up to this absolutely stunning view this morning. The sea literally surrounds me 180 degrees while standing on the terrace. I am the lucky houseguest of Count and Countess Gianfranco and Alba Ferri de Lazara in their Calabrian beach villa in the town of San Nicola Arcella. The Ferris have houses all over Italy, their weekend house in the country is a national historical monument for heaven's sake, but this seaside locale is by far my favorite.

The morning starts with breakfast on the stunning terrace overlooking the views above, and consists of warm brioche filled with cream, apricot jam or nutella from Da Franco, the bakery just up the street:

Once in bathing suits, we walk the 500 steps down to the black sand beach to the beach club called Lido Rocco, where we lay out and swim and then retire to the shade for a homemade lunch of pasta and fresh seafood:
Here start the 500 steps down to the beach

Lido Rocco

Having lunch on the beach at Lido Rocco

Linguine with fresh clams and mussels

A simple but delicious homemade tomato sauce with penne pasta
In the evening we go home to shower and watch the sunset, then prepare for dinner al fresco on the terrace with fresh fish and lots of ice cold local white wine.
The table is set for dinner overlooking the sea

A beautiful sunset captured from our terrace

Into the oven goes the catch of the day, doesn't get much fresher than this!

After so much sun, salty sea air, and wine, we all retire to bed after a game of cards around midnight, only to get up and do it all again tomorrow! I am not sure how I will ever return to cold and dreary London weather after this long weekend. Pin It

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Lake Como, Italy - Villa D'Este

Spent a beautiful sunny afternoon at one of the best hotels in the world: Villa D'Este on Lake Como. While I didn't stay here, so cannot comment on the rooms or the service, the grounds and the surrounding landscape are absolutely idyllic. I walked the whole property and then sat outside at the bar and had a lemon granita under the shade of a massive white umbrella looking out over the lake: it was heaven. If you are looking for a true hideaway and a place to get away from it all for a few days, this would be the spot. Who knows, maybe you'll spot nearby resident, George Clooney. I took dozens and dozens of photos, and have included some of my favorites here. I'll let the sheer beauty of this place speak for itself.

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