The Eating Guide to the Amalfi Coast, Italy

Italy

The Hollywood guest list at the Amalfi Coast is a never-ending story; the coast is a perennial favourite amongst A-listers for its glamourous Italian beaches, opulent hotels, and of course, divine seafood. The Amalfi Coast is made up of almost 80 km of twisting roads, soaring cliffs, and views that get exceedingly beautiful at every turn. 

In summer, days at the coast are long and languid. Stare into the deep blue ocean and you’ll see fishing boats bring in their catch of the day, which will end up on your plate at dinnertime. While you’re on the Amalfi Drive, you’ll find yourself pulling up at unexpected stops for a photo moment. Just by the side of a curb, a man is selling freshly squeezed lemonade. That’s la dolce vita for you. 

Look forward to: Seafood

La Strada 

IMG_6145_edited

Where: Via Gennaro Capriglione, 178, 84010 Praiano SA, Italy
What: Seafood risotto
For: Romantic dinners

You will find La Strada tucked along the narrow streets of Praiano. There, a staircase at the back hides a surprisingly spacious, panoramic terrace on the second floor. Run by the Gagliano family, most of the menu is dependent on what the family’s trawler brings in from sea. The seafood risotto is outstanding, and other seafood dishes such as prawns and fish come with lemon dressings. 

Casa e Bottega

IMG_6232_edited

Where: Viale Pasitea, 100, 84017 Positano SA, Italy
What: Clean food
For: Breakfasts and mid-day snacks

Casa e Bottega is bringing the clean food trend to Positano by introducing organic ingredients to its menu. You’ll find freshly squeezed juices, smoothie bowls, homemade cakes, natural gelato, and an elaborate breakfast menu. They give a healthy dose of vegetables to each dish, and you’ll even find that the eggs come with cucumbers. The café also doubles up as a shop, and you can buy fish-patterned ceramics and fabrics there. 

Saraceno d’Oro

IMG_6234_edited

Where: Via Pasitea, 254, 84017 Positano SA, Italy
What: Vongole pasta
For: Casual lunches

Have a meal at Saraceno d’Oro, and you’ll feel like you’re family. This family-run restaurant tops the list for reasonable prices and quality in Positano. The atmosphere is casual, and you’re most likely going to enjoy your vongole pasta while the waiter shares with you the history and ownership of the restaurant. 

Franco’s Bar

IMG_6256_edited.jpg

Where: Via Cristoforo Colombo, 30, 84017 Positano SA, Italy
What: Steaks
For: Pre-dinner drinks

Franco’s Bar is the bona fide watering hole – no food, just drinks and nibbles to complement. The open space is utterly chic, glamourised by splashes of gold and royal blue. Come before 6 pm (the bar’s opening time) to get a front row view of houses tumbling down Positano’s cliff. It’s insanely photogenic. 

Mimi’s Pizzeria

IMG_6236_edited

Where: Via S. Francesco, 12, 84010 Ravello SA, Italy
What: Pizzas
For: Casual lunches

Despite being hidden from the main square at Ravello, Mimi’s Pizzeria still gets swarms of patrons hungry for pizzas freshly baked in a wood fired oven. You won’t go wrong with the classic margherita – just tomato, mozzarella and basil on fluffy, thin crusts. If the classics bore you, go for the Mimi’s specials such as pizza with ricotta stuffed crust, tomatoes, mozzarella and olive oil. 

La Bonta del Capo

IMG_6185_edited

Where: Via I Maggio, 14, 84010 Conca dei Marini SA, Italy
What: Lemon ravioli
For: Beef

You will need a car to get to La Bonta del Capo, where chef Fiore Oliveto’s lemon ravioli is the star of the menu. Stuffed with lemon zest and ricotta cheese, this ravioli dish is undoubtedly light and works as a sharing dish so you won’t have to miss out on the other seafood dishes. Choose the outdoor seating area that juts out into the ocean, and you’ll know the drive up the narrow road is well worth it. 

Villa Maria

IMG_6276_edited

Where: Via Santa Chiara, 84010 Ravello SA, Italy
What: Vongole pasta with chickpeas
For: Smart dinners

Situated above a garden terrace, the Villa Maria mansion stands out as one of the remaining old world Italian residences in Ravello. The tables in the al fresco restaurant are housed under a canopy, with a view of Ravello’s stunning terraces. The garden is where the chef picks out fresh ingredients. There’s nothing standard about the menu – carbonara with salmon instead of pancetta, vongole paired with chickpeas. Take a walk inside the hotel’s sitting area to marvel at the marble-clad interiors. 

Kasai

IMG_6254_edited

Where: Via Umberto I, 84, 84010 Praiano SA, Italy
What: Seafood
For: Casual dinners

You can’t stay past a day in Praiano without your host whispering to you that Kasai is Praiano’s finest restaurant. The menu is predominantly seafood (well, it is the Amalfi Coast after all), so don’t waste it on a chicken thigh. You can have your fill with the €25 daily set, which includes a starter, first course and main course. 

La Moressa

IMG_6241_edited

Where: Via moressa 1, 84010 Praiano SA, Italy
What: Homemade sausages
For: Breakfast

La Moressa will satisfy your craving for a good ol’ English breakfast. The homemade sausages are very old fashioned – grilled ground pork shaped into irregular patties. Eggs are rare for breakfasts in Italy, but this café does them fried and as sunny side ups. And bacon, well, it comes in the form of grilled pancetta, but we’re definitely not complaining. 

The Eating Guide to Tuscany, Italy

Italy

More than a decade has passed since Under the Tuscan Sun was released, and Tuscany is still as breathtaking as ever. The plan to explore the region is simple – get a car and drive take the autostradas up to charming hilltop towns and wineries. When you head to the rolling hills, homemade pastas and meats rule the Tuscan palate. 

Look forward to: Ragu, handmade pasta and wine.

Gelateria dei Neri

img_4933_edited

Area: Florence
Where:
 Via dei Neri, 9/11, 50122 Firenze, Italy
What: Gelato
For: After meal sweets

The search for the authentic gelato in Florence is no mean feat, but Gelateria dei Neri is a household name amongst Florentines for the right Italian ice-cream. Traditional flavours like nocciola, pistachio and limone are golden. For a bite of something more unique, granita (Italian ice that originates in Sicily) comes in mandarin, pink grapefruit and mint flavours. 

Trattoria Sabatino

Area: Florence
Where: Via Pisana, 2R, 50143 Firenze
What: Anything
For: Cheap Italian fare

When it’s time to get off work, the Italians head to Trattoria Sabatino, a family-run eatery in Santo Spirito which seems to serve a locals-only crowd. You can hardly spot hordes of tourists in Sabatino, but instead find hungry Italians engaged in conversations over simple Tuscan fare. Food is dished out in small portions and prices start from €2. Try the mushroom salad, which are raw porcini mushrooms lightly drizzled with olive oil. 

La Schiacciateria

img_4943_edited

Area: Florence
Where:
42/31, Via Di Novoli – 50127 Florence (FI) – Italy
What: Panini
For: Breakfast 

La Schiacciateria is the accidental breakfast find that became a routine stop every morning. It’s hard to choose between a pizza or a panino, but either way you won’t be disappointed. Simple ingredients are what makes its panino top-notch. Just prosciutto, mozzarella, rocket and a drizzle of olive oil sandwiched between focaccia. 

Il Latini

IMG_0296

Area: Florence
Where:
Via dei Palchetti, 6R, 50123 Firenze, Italy
What: Florentine steak
For: Dinner

Almost anyone who is a Florentine steak aficionado knows that Latini is the place to go in Florence if you want one that’s done right. Before you order a Florentine steak, know this – Florentine steaks are cooked rare on the inside and fully seared on the outside. No exceptions. Any beef cooked more than medium rare is not a bistecca alla Fiorentina. Ordering to the minimum weight set by the restaurant is a requirement. Rest assured that this large piece of steak can be shared. 

Caffè Sant’Ambrogio

img_2028_edited

Area: Florence
Where:
 Piazza Sant’Ambrogio 7, Florence, Italy
What: Wine and anything on the menu
For: Drinks 

The Italian under-30 crowd can be found in Caffè Sant’Ambrogio in Piazza Sant’Ambrogio. After 8 pm, the piazza gets bustling, and the waiters at Caffè Sant’Ambrogio are busy handing out drinks to its patrons. This casual joint doesn’t burn a hole in your wallet and the menu satisfies a cosmopolitan palate – hamburger steak with melted cheese, and pasta with tuna pesto and olives. 

L’Altro Cantuccio

Area: Montepulciano
Where:
Via delle Cantine, 1, 53045 Montepulciano SI, Italy
What: Steaks
For: Romantic dining 

Matthia and Monica opened L’Altro Cantuccio in 2013, and has since been known to serve some of the best Chianina beef in Tuscany. Varied cooking styles of the Chianina beef makes up most of the menu here. The chef serves it grilled, raw (tatare or carpaccio style) or as a meat sauce for pastas. To go with the beef is an extensive wine list which boasts the best of Montepulciano wines. 

Il Pozzo

img_5559_edited

Area: Montalcino
Where:
Piazza Castello, 53024 Montalcino – sant angelo in colle SI, Italy
What: Homemade pici pasta with breadcrumbs
For: Tuscan cuisine

In Sant’Angelo, Il Pozzo serves really handmade pastas (as they emphasised) and a wine list that boasts the best of Montalcino. Its owners, sisters Franca and Paola, are born and raised in this part of Tuscany, and learned everything about Tuscan cooking from their grandmothers. Don’t expect modern Italian cuisine here, but rather, Tuscan dishes from a simpler time. Handmade pici pasta with breadcrumbs is a local specialty, and so are the pappardelle al cinghiale and acquacotta. 

Da Enzo

img_2176_edited

Area: Siena
Where:
Via Camollia, 49, 53100 Siena SI, Italy
What: Ragu and truffle salad
For: Tuscan cuisine 

Push past the tourist crowds in the main square to get to the quiet street of Via Camollia, where truffles and ragu are found in Da Enzo. You can’t resist the traditional Tuscan ragu cooked with homemade pappardelle and topped with a generous sprinkling of freshly grated cheese. You’ll wonder if an Italian nonna resides in the restaurant’s kitchen. Since you’re in the region, go all out with the truffle salad, a dish jam-packed with a generous shavings of this iconic Tuscan ingredient. 

Umbria Travel Tips from Paolo Villani, Italian Blogger

Conversations with Locals

Umbria, Italy’s Green Heart, is fast becoming Tuscany’s rival for its lush rolling hills and medieval towns. Gubbio-based blogger Paolo Villani shares his favourite hiking trail in Umbria, the villages to go, and where to find the world’s largest Christmas tree. 

14723002_144943462638992_6120054365001613312_n

Photo: Paolo Villani 

What should travellers know about Umbria before heading there?

Before coming to Umbria, you should know that it is the paradise of medieval villages. To enjoy it, equip yourself with sneakers and get ready for some good food!

What are some local dishes you feel travellers can’t leave Umbria without trying? 

There are so many local dishes that you absolutely must taste in Umbria, such as cappelletti, which is a closed pasta stuffed with minced meat. It’s a delicacy! Also, do not miss the friccò di pollo con crescia, which is chicken in tomato sauce with bread.

What about your favourite restaurants?

One of my favourite restaurants is here in my city, Gubbio. I’m talking about the restaurant Contessa, where you can taste all the Umbrian specialties without spending too much.

13260995_1601732230116747_1882500313_n

Photo: Paolo Villani

Name one best kept secret of Umbria

Umbria is beautiful, but if you want to admire it in all its glory, you have to go up! I intend to go hiking in the mountains and enjoy the great valleys that contain several small villages. 

What are your favourite hiking trails? 

Gubbio is famous for having the largest Christmas tree in the world, which covers the whole of Mountain Ingino. You can find the best path right here. Once you reach the Basilica of Saint Ubaldo at the top of the mountain, you can take a path that will take you up to the fortress, located at the highest point of the mountain. In winter, the star of the tree is mounted there.

We heard that Umbria is famous for its wines. Where do you go for this?  

My favourite place is located in the city of Gualdo Tadino, a few minutes from Gubbio. It’s called Vineria dei Re.

What about your favourite hilltop towns? 

My favourite Umbrian town are the safe bets – Gubbio, Spello, Assisi, Perugia, and all the villages surrounding Lake Trasimeno. They are a wonder to behold! 

14597415_1631094567195549_4369069539283959808_n

Spello. Photo: Paolo Villani

15624166_356103671422600_7759886055574077440_n

Photo: Paolo Villani

Umbria is often being compared to Tuscany. What are the biggest differences between these two regions?

They are compared because they are very similar. The biggest differences are the dialect, the food, but otherwise – they are very much alike. Maybe in Umbria, there are more medieval villages. 

Where can we go to see your favourite view of Umbria?

I could never say where my favourite view is, because in Umbria, there are so many. I could tell you about the Carducci Gardens of Perugia, Spello’s alleys, the Church of San Francesco in Assisi, or the Palazzo dei Consoli in Gubbio. The views are wonderful in all these places. 

14487210_203664856707439_7712053438590222336_n

Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi. Photo: Paolo Villani

WHERE TO EAT IN UMBRIA


Ristorante Contessa
Where: Strada Contessa, 6, 06024 Gubbio PG, Italy
For: Umbrian specialties 

Vineria dei Re
Where: Via Camillo Benso Conte di Cavour, 15B, 06024 Gubbio PG, Italy
For: Wine

WHERE TO GO IN UMBRIA


Mount Ingino
Where: Via della Piaggiola, 06024 Gubbio PG, Italy
For: The world’s largest Christmas tree

Carducci Gardens
Where: Corso Pietro Vannucci, 06121 Perugia, Italy
For: A view of Perugia

 

Spello
Where: Spello, 06038 Province of Perugia, Italy
For: A charming hilltop town