Cooking in Paradise on the Amalfi Coast

Dec 1, 2018
1,408   |    |    Our Vacations
Location Factor: 10 – It’s the Amalfi Coast
Bucket-List Factor: 10
Amazing Experience Factor: 10
Food & Fun Factor: 10
Accommodations Factor: 10
Amazing Views: 10

We score this vacation week a 10 out of 10... But of course, don’t just take our word for it.

Read this article and then watch the video and you can decide for yourself

After all, it’s not just Italy... It’s the Amalfi Coast... Culture Discovery Style!

We start our Amalfi Coast vacation with a beautiful drive from Naples past the majestic Mt. Vesuvius. That’s that volcano that blew its top nearly 2000 years ago and covered Pompeii in such a way that we’re now able to see exactly what Roman life was during that time.

We then wind our way out to the famous Amalfi Coastline road. This is a very winding, yet picturesque view of what the Amalfi Coast offers. A dramatic coastline with stunning sea views. Lots of oohhs and aahhs can be heard from our guests as we make our way to the villa!

Our villa we stay at is called Villa Eremo di San Francesco. This is a luxurious villa situated in the hills above the towns of Amalfi and Atrani, and just below Ravello. The villa boasts stunning views of the Amalfi coast and the nearby mountain ranges that serve as the incredible backdrop of the coastline.

The Eremo di San Francesco, was originally built in the 13th century by a group of Franciscan monks and was used as a monastic respite from the church and cloister that was down the hill closer to the main road. It was transformed over the years. First remodeled as a private home, yet more recently converted into a 12-room guest villa equipped with en-suite bathrooms, air conditioning, Wi-Fi, televisions and sea views from each room.

When our groups are there, it is your house for the week. Take advantage of the spacious common areas, including a large outdoor terrace, infinity swimming pool and gardens. Inside, there is another large common area, dining room, a well-equipped, working kitchen as well as plenty of areas to relax and enjoy the gorgeous views from the large sliding glass doors, balconies and windows. The villa also retains much of its original charm and preserves much of its traditional architecture, decorations and general feeling of well-being and relaxation.

Ok – so there are some stairs to get up to the villa, we’re not going to skirt around that issue, because it comes fairly frequently... Here’s the deal. The villa was once a secluded monastery that was built in a place that was not easily accessible... For a reason. Part of its charm is the calm and serene surroundings, therefore getting there used to be more of a hike than it is today. Thanks to a lot of engineering and other residents that have built other homes in the area, an elevator was built into the mountain that serves as the bedrock for the villa. However, the elevator only reaches a certain point. That leaves about 60 stairs for us to take up to get to the villa. Not so bad when you consider that originally it was about 250 steps up from the coast road. Plus, our bags get portered up for us, so we’re mostly unencumbered on our way up.

Our prize after our walk up to the villa awaits us as we are greeted with a warm and traditional welcome from our Amalfi hosts and family. We are treated to glasses of fresh-squeezed and ice-cold lemonade, along with Prosecco and wine. An appetizer spread is beautifully prepared for us to enjoy with a pairing for our refreshing beverages all while some beautiful Italian music plays softly in the background. Besides our welcoming family, our guests are immediately impressed by the stunning and dramatic views the villa offers. Before finishing their first flutes of Prosecco, they are clamoring to the edge of the terrace to take photos of the magnificent views.

This arrival really sets the mood for the rest of the week.

The Video

This video montage shows our Amalfi week full of fun and adventure. It is... And a whole lot more. Whether we are at our cooking classes or out on our boats going to Positano or Capri Island, there is plenty of sunshine, great food, wonderful wines and a lot of great people getting to know one another as our groups bond very quickly and become one big family. As you can see in the video – Most of the people in the video never knew each other before meeting either at the airport or on the bus on the way to the villa. Yet, they seem as if they’ve known each other for years!

It’s incredible how week in and week out this happens. It’s an amazing experience to be a part of and most of those friendships form life-long bonds and a very large number of our guests have made friends for life. Many have gone on to visit each other in their home towns or have come back to travel with us time and time again! We are so grateful for this and so touched to be a part of it.

A little bit of information about the week itself...

More information can be found here on our website, but we’ll give you a quick summary of the week and what you can come to expect.

Like all of our traditional week-long cooking vacations, our Amalfi Vacation week is All-Inclusive. This means pretty much everything except for airfare or other travel expenses before and after our scheduled shuttles from and returning to our arrival and departure points. All the meals, cooking classes, excursions, entry fees, transportation, boats, wine tastings, wine and other beverages at our meals. Obviously, your personal expenses are not covered, or other expenses you have while on your own, but other than that, your cooking vacation is already paid for. This has so many advantages for everyone. It allows us to treat you as visiting friends or family without the guise of having to try and “up-sale” you on a particular excursion or event. We don’t have to take you to certain touristy restaurants or souvenir shops so that our hosts can reap the benefits. Quite the contrary. We have the unique approach that most tour operators do not. It is absolutely our goal to give you an authentic and honest, once-in-a-lifetime vacation experience. We couldn’t do this if there was some sort of financial exchange or gain at stake while you were here visiting us. We just don’t work that way. And it is so evident during all our vacations. Guests, hosts, our vendor partners are all very much at ease with us as everything we do is completely transparent. It allows us all to stay relaxed and have a great time. Which is what it’s all about! We are on vacation after all!

Speaking of the vacation...

We can’t tell you how many times our guests have told us that coming to the Amalfi Coast has been a “Bucket-List” lifetime dream vacation for them for many, many years. We understand this and that’s one of the reasons that it was so important to us to create a blend of experiences that represent this part of Italy in the best and most authentic way possible.

It all started with finding the right people that are local to the area and know just about everyone along the majestic Amalfi Coast. It was somewhat of a chance encounter that we met Claudia and her family. They were able to show us the local side of an area that is notoriously touristic. How did they do this? Well, it all starts with compatibility and a shared vision of how to best represent their hometown. Just as anyone would want to do if they had friends coming to visit for the first time.

Just as our guests’ experience, we too, were overwhelmed by the gracious hospitality and heartfelt passion for their love of sharing their local culture and traditions with us. Besides just being a beautiful place to be, the Amalfi Coast is rich in history and played an important role in the development of Italy through the ages. Notably, it was one of the first places in Italy where pasta was manufactured and sold commercially throughout the country. And what would the Amalfi Coast be like without Limoncello? That wonderfully sweet and sour digestive that soothes the soul after a lovely meal. There are also many wonderful Italian dishes that originated in the area as well. Pizza was perfected in nearby Naples and is revered the world over as being the best pizza anywhere. Not to worry... There’s plenty of Limoncello at the villa, along with us making the traditional Pizza Napoletana from scratch on our pizza class night at the villa.

No trip to the coast would be complete without getting out onto the sea. As soon as the boats pull away from the dock, the entire coast takes on a completely new perspective. This is where the stunning and dramatic views of the coast really come in to play. Against the backdrop of the towering coastal mountain range one gets the true sense of the tremendous scope and magnitude of this incredible stretch of land.

Towns and beaches dot the landscape amidst the villas and beachfront homes situated along the coves and coastline. Everywhere you look is like a picture postcard. Besides the view of the magnificent coastline, when you look out onto the water, you will see the local fisherman in their small outboards pulling up traps that they’ve set overnight. But right behind it might be a 20 Million Dollar Super Yacht that is right from the pages of the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. This is the Amalfi Coast, as diverse as it is similar and recognized as home to all those that live here or just visit.

Our boats to Capri are stylish and classic. Like taking a vintage convertible Cadillac out for a Sunday drive up the Pacific Coast Highway in California, we motor along enjoying the ocean air and refreshing breeze. We’re also enjoying wine and good company. It just doesn’t get any better than this.

We arrive at Capri Island and are greeted by immense cliffs and crystal blue waters of the many coves and grottos that surround the island. The famous Blue Grotto is a tourist-favorite and we often wait in the long queues to enter and experience the Disney-like journey inside.

We dock our classic boats in the main harbor alongside the super-yachts and fishing boats. We head up the hill in chartered taxis that are a crazy mix of custom-built convertibles with surrey-tops. Anacapri brings us more spectacular views, especially if you take the chairlift to the top of the island. Not for the faint-of-heart, but well worth the effort as you are rewarded with sights to behold. Also in Anacapri, is the Villa San Michele. Built in the late 19th century, this beautifully maintained country home is both understated elegance and serene. It’s a hidden gem that very few tourists go to and is a perfect little get-away from the foot traffic nearby. There is a wonderful café with outdoor seating and more amazing views. A fantastic spot for a glass of wine or Prosecco.

All this is just part of one day. The other days of the week are filled with a combination of excursions, cooking classes and other adventures. There are full days and days where you have time to enjoy the relaxing atmosphere at the villa.

Another popular day with our guests is when we go to Positano – Also by the same boats we used to go to Capri. This day, bring your suits as we make time to swim in the cool and refreshing waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Positano itself is a colorful beach, great for shopping, taking in refreshments at the many bars and cafes, as well as enjoying some time to meander through the winding alleyways and streets. We have to be up front and honest... Nearly all of our guests dream of coming to visit Positano, but by the time we get there, they have seen so many other amazing off-the-beaten path places, that they almost always tell us that they understand they needed to get it out of their system, but want to go back to the other less touristy things we do! So the moment we leave Positano, we turn it up a couple notches!

We get back on the water just before sunset, asnd with Positano as a backdrop, we break out the Prosecco for a breathtaking sunset party-at-sea on our boats. We play music, sing, dance and some of us even dive back in the refreshing sea! You may have seen some of this in the video and were wondering what and where this was...Now you know!

The fun doesn’t stop there. We turn it up a few more notches after our sunset toast. Our next stop is a little beach hideaway restaurant in a hidden cove, accessible only by sea. We have a spectacular dinner on the beach with fresh catch of the day and torches lighting up the evening. Most would make a meal out of the appetizers alone, a veritable smorgasbord of local favorites including caponata, shrimp dishes, salads, bruschetta and more. However, that is just the beginning of our feast of fresh fish, vegetable dishes, breads, pastas and, of course, dessert and plenty of wine! Another amazing day.

Also in the video are some clips of local vendors that are so kind to our visiting guests. We immerse and engage our guests into the local culture as much as possible. We do this to create the connection and bond that we, as your local hosts, get to experience while we live here in Italy. It is a true and authentic thing to be able to interact with our friends and neighbors in any way possible. These vendors are so passionate about what they do. They are also so happy to share their family stories and passion for their work with all our inquisitive guests. We encourage our guests get to engage with them at all times. Especially when we need to order things from them like a kilo of salami, two kilos of tomatoes, 6 eggplants, 20 eggs and so on... All in Italian! Even with the local dialect! - We help you with all of that, of course!

Truthfully, since this video was shot, we’ve added some experiences and changed a couple restaurants along the way. Which we do only to enhance the vacation experience for our guests. You can see more of our Amalfi Vacation week in our photo gallery section on our website here.

We could go into greater detail, but we don’t want to give it all away! You can always browse our website here if you want more detailed information, including dates, times and pricing. We hope that you enjoy the video as much as we’ve had over the years in making it! We hope it gives you a sense of what traveling with Culture Discovery is like and that it fits into your ideas about experiential travel.

The best thing you can do is just come and live the dream yourself!

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