Respecting Traditional Funerals
It's nearly midday in downtown Sorrento. A funeral procession of mourners walking through town proceeds up to the Piazza Tasso. As they proceed several tourists step out on the street to take pictures of the mourners. Other more impatient ones walk directly through the mourners to get to the other side of the street. Admittedly I took a picture of the funeral hearse, a pick up truck with a large floral tribute to the dead. However the other acts were disrespectful of a mourning family and a bad testimony to some of the tourists in the area.
The hearse and the mourners will likely proceed by walking to the grave site. This tradition has been in place among some Catholic worshippers for many years. If you see something like this please respect their desires for privacy and respect.
300g small tomatoes,
60g black olives,
15 ml extra virgin olive oil,
2 cloves garlic,
Fry garlic and ret hot pepper in Olice oil, add anchovies and melt at low heat.
Add chopped tomatoes and cook rapidly at high heat, mix with pitted olives and capers. Boil linguine and drain slightly undercooked, pour into the sauce, mix and complete with chopped parsley.
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This recipe is for 10 servings in order to get the best results as it's a traditional dish that is commonly prepared for festivals.
600-700g pasta for lasagna,
450g meat balls,
500g ricotta cheese,
450g Buffelo Mozzerela patted dry or fior di latte cheese,
500g "cervellatine" (thin sausages),
A good ragu sauce
250g parmesan and or pecorino cheese,
ground black pepper
Cook the pasta, drain and season it with some cheese, salt and pepper. Fry meatballs and sausages, cool and cut them into slices.
Cut mozzarella into pieces and dissolve the ricotta with a part of the Ragu
Lay the Ragu on the bottom of a greased wide baking pan followed by a layer of lasagna in order to cover the bottom and edges
Lay the Ragu and ricotta cheese, fior di late or mozzarella, meatballs and slices of sausage, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, a pinch of pepper and add some more Ragu.
repeat untill it is all used up, At the end complete with the layer of lasagna ragù and Parmesan cheese.
Bake until a brown crust comes and lasagna is compact. Cool down, pull out of the baking pan and serve with pecorino flakes and some more Ragu
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Caprese (Caprese salad)
500g of Best Buffalo Mozzarella,
Extra Virgin Olive Oil,
It does not really matter to the taste but for the look try to pick tomatoes and mozzerela of equal dimensions and slice to the same thickness.
Season the slices of tomatoes with a pinch of salt and alternate with slices of mozzarella. Add lots of fresh basil, a pinch of oregano and drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
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Curreri bus: convenient and excellent.
I cannot believe I have never made a tip about the Curreri bus from Naples airport to Sorrento...and I'm sure I took photos on one of my visits, though I can't find them anywhere.
Of course you can, if you wish, take the ordinary bus from the airport into Naples and just catch the Circumvesuviana train from Napoli Garibaldi station. This is the cheapest way.
Or you can take a taxi from the airport at around 100 euro.
But the Curreri bus is just sooo easy. At the airport it starts from just outside Arrivals...look slightly to your left and you'll see the sign, and the timetable. It costs 10 euro, and stops at various places on the way to Sorrento, where it terminates outside the Circumvesuviana station. If you travel during the daytime you'll have some superb views of the Bay of Naples and of the various sights along the route.
The Curreri bus is just a very simple, comfortable and reliable way to get to Sorrento. You can book in advance online if you wish, which would probably be sensible in the high season. Or you can just pay the bus driver; that's what I've always done.
You can also book tickets in advance at the ETS travel agents on Corso Italia in Sorrento. Having seen the number of visitors in mid-October Sorrento I decided to do this, although as it turned out the bus was by no means full and I would have been ok anyway.
A highly recommended service.
- Family Travel
Good Friday Processions
On Good Friday there are two processions that take place on the streets of Sorrento. Early in the wee hours of the morning (at 3 am) is the Processione Bianca when people walk through the streets chanting "Miserere" representing the Blessed Mother searching for her Son, who has been condemned to death.
At 7:30 pm is Processione Nero, when people dress in black and mourn the death of the Savior.
You can watch the processions on the Sorrento Webcam:
Not just St. Valentine.........
14th February may be St Valentine's day for the rest of Europe, but in Sorrento it's also when they celebrate their own patron saint, St Antonino.
By the evening of 13th the whole of Corso Italia was crammed with market traders setting-up their stalls, and street sellers from Naples arrived on the early Circumvesuviana train the next day. The vast majority of stalls were for sweeties of some sort or another........Haribo and nougat seeming most popular.... closely followed by all types of nuts and dried fruits. Other stalls sell everything from tools and toys to (very cold, poor things) baby hamsters and live fish.
There are processions during the day (I missed them, sadly) and the whole town seems to turn out to wander the stalls........probably all the nearby villages too. It was certainly a crush, made even more Italian in the evening by the cars crawling through the crowds; none of this fancy health & safety stuff, just make sure you get out of the way! Fireworks too.....the day seemed to start off with huge bangs!
And, of course, people visited the Basilica de S. Antonino, and his statue in P. Tasso was garlanded with flowers, oranges and lemons.
Well worth a wander if you happen to be in the area at the right time (thpough parking will be a nightmare, so get the bus or train).
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In Sorrento (actually, everywhere I went this trip) I learned that lots of people have dogs. And lots of people seem entirely happy to let their dogs wander around by themselves, and the dogs are entirely brilliant at avoiding cars/scooterini. I'm used to seeing cats in Italy (and elsewhere) but encountering so many dogs was a new experience (resulting in not many cats too!).
I like dogs, but am very wary of those I don't know. However, it soon became apparent that these wandering canines were not in the least bit interested in me (apart from a rather lovely one in Amalfi, who attached himself to me for a walk along the prom). Even the 'stray' dogs in Pompeii/Oplontis were not bothered; they just pootled around doing their usual doggy thing regardless of visitors.
How many dogs were 'strays' and how many simply having a good time looking after themselves I couldn't tell. Certainly not one of them looked underfed, and most of them looked pretty clean too. The dog in the photo, gazing longingly at the closed door of the butcher's shop, was just trying it on, imo!
As far as I could tell, the only thing to be wary of is what they leave behind them on pavements.
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Mozzarella di Bufala Campana
The origins of this product date back to the introduction of the buffalo in Italy. There are many hypotheses on the period of intoduction and start of the tradition of Italian breeding. The buffalo has origins in eastern India although the hypothisis of a native Italian Buffalow is reinforced by the retrieval of fossils in the roman countries.
The term "Mozzarella" derives from the operation of "stumping by hand" practiced in the final phase of the working of the mozzarella. The Borboni dedicated themselves particularly to the breeding of the buffalo, in particular in the real estate of Carditello, where in the middle of 1700 they started a cheese factory
In the zone of Volturno and Sele, today the ancient bufalare (buffalo graze) dating back to those times can still be found.
The characteristic of buffalo mozzarella is of course the raw materials employed, the fresh buffalo milk, of which approximately 4,2 liters are necessary in order to produce a kilogram of mozzarella, and the particular working that consists in the operation of the spinning. The spinning by hand consists in working the paste of the cheese till end of maturation with hot water until making it "spin", in order to obtain the particular consistency of the final product.
For the spinning a cookware and a wooden stick are used, raising and continuously spinning the fused paste until obtaining a homogenous paste. At the end there is the mold preparation, that still today, many, execute by hand with the traditional "mozzatura", that the cheese producer carries out with the thumb and the index of the hand. The mozzarellas therefore produced are then left to cool in bathtubs containing cold water and finally salted. It’s also allowed the smoking, an ancient and traditional natural process of working, but in such case the denomination of origin must be followed by the wording "affumicata" (smoked).
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Cipolla bianca di Pompei (Pompeii White Onion)
This onion is very widespread in Campania, with over one thousand hectares of cultivation area in 2002. The Pompeii white onion, which is suitable for fresh consumption, is a typical crop of the Sarnese-Nocerino countryside and the Stabiese-Pompeiano countryside. It has a flatfish-round white bulb, which is uniform and homogeneous in size (from 80 to 120 grams) and is of excellent preservability.
The traditional cultivation techniques of this crop involve sowing broadcast, which is mostly done from August to September, on well-prepared plots of land that serve as seedbeds. The seedlings are subsequently transplanted in autumn into single, or more frequently, multiple rows. The onions are harvested when the bulb is barely formed (spring onion), in winter, or when fully ripe, between winter and spring. The varieties get their name from the period in which they terminate the cycle: febbratica (February), marzatica (March), aprilatica (April), maggiaiola (May) and giugnese (June).
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Arancia di Sorrento (Orange of Sorrento)
Oranges and lemons were already an important source of income for the Sorrento-Amalfi Peninsula as far back as 1300 and fed an intense flow of direct export to the main Italian and European markets. The two species have dominated alternately through the centuries. This has depended on the ups and downs of the market, which have made farmers turn to one crop or the other and sometimes make unwise change backs. Consequently it is necessary to reorganise local citrus growing today, as its importance for the landscape is invaluable.
The Sorrento orange and the lemon share the same cultivation technique: wooden stakes (usually made of chestnut wood from the surrounding areas) are used and may be anything up to 7 metres in height. Straw mats are arranged over the top (the traditional "pagliarelle") to form a cover that can be replaced or used with nets and windbreaks to protect against the wind and cold. This cover delays the ripening of the fruit, which can be sold at a later period than other Italian oranges, thus allowing wider profit margins. From the mother cultivar, "Biondo comune", two local ecotypes have reproduced and gradually become established: the "Biondo Sorrentino" and the "Biondo Equense". Both are vigorous, upward-growing plants, which often reach 7 metres in height.
The fruit are an orange-yellow colour of varying intensity and large in size (the Sorrento is the larger), with medium-thick skin, numerous, seedless segments and sweet, juicy flesh. The harvest begins in May and continues to the beginning of August for the fruit that develops from the later flowering. A syrup can be made by macerating the Sorrento oranges, it has a rich aroma and flavour and is on the regional list of traditional products. The Consortium for the protection of the Sorrento Lemon has turned its attention to the excellent juice of this orange in order to attain DOP recognition (Protected Denomination of Origin).
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Limone di Sorrento (Lemon of Sorrento)
The lemon is medium-large, elliptical, with an attractive lemon-yellow skin, very fragrant and with a particularly juicy and acidic flesh. Today it is grown in all the communes of the Sorrento Peninsula and all over the island of Capri, both in the province of Naples. It covers a total surface area of 400 hectares and has an annual production of about 100,000 quintals. It is a tardy fruit, so that, although it is produced on the tree all year round, the best fruit are obtained from spring to the end of autumn. Cultivation is typically made up of terraces incorporated in containment walls. Another technical aspect is the covering up of the foliage to protect it from the cold and wind (an indispensable practice during the coldest period of the year because of the geographical position of the Sorrento Peninsula, which is at the northern limit of latitude for lemon-growing) and to delay the ripening of the fruit until the best commercial periods. In the past the well-known "pagliarelle" were used: straw mats resting on wooden stakes, usually of chestnut wood. Today they have been replaced by more practical plastic nets, which are more suitable for the steeper slopes of the area. The Sorrento Lemon already enjoyed a good reputation during the last century, when it was mainly exported to England. Today a moderate quantity of lemons is still exported to European markets, mainly German and English, but most of the produce is reserved for the domestic market; 40% is destined for fresh consumption and the remaining 60% is used to make the famous Limoncello liqueur. Demand for the Sorrento Lemon is constant, thanks to its highly valued properties and, consequently, the prices are always decidedly higher than (and sometimes double) that of ordinary lemons on the market. Equally valued qualifications have brought prestige and credit to the Amalfi Coast Lemon, also gratified with the much-deserved IGP recognition in July 2001.
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Noce di Sorrento (Walnut of Sorrento)
There is evidence that the walnut has been present in Campania since at least the first century AD. In Herculaneum, the charred remains of very similar shaped nuts to those of today have been found in the Casa D'Argo, while at Pompeii, paintings portraying walnuts have come to light in the Misteri Villa. The soil and climate in Campania are particularly favourable to the cultivation of this crop and have enabled it to spread over most of the plains and hills. It is not a coincidence that the most cultivated and valued Italian variety of walnut originated in Campania: it is the Sorrento cultivar, native to the Sorrento Peninsula where it has found a habitat with ideal environmental characteristics for the robust and harmonious development of the tree.
It has gradually spread from here to the classic fruit-farming areas of all the provinces of Campania (the majority with the suitable volcanic soil in the province of Naples), giving rise to a wide range of ecotypes, all known as the Sorrento Walnut, although there are two that are the most widely cultivated and marketed. There are two main types of Sorrento walnut which differ in shape: one has an elongated, regular and slightly pointed shell (the "pointed beard") at the top and rounded off at the base whilst the other is smaller and more rounded. The cultivation techniques, inspired by traditional growing methods, and the organoleptic character are the same for both types. In both cases the shell is light-coloured, not very wrinkled and thin enough to be broken with light pressure. The kernel - i.e. the edible part of the walnut - is cream coloured, not very oily, (though it can be preserved well for a certain period), substantial, soft and crunchy, with an extremely pleasant flavour and an unusual aroma and aftertaste, both when eaten fresh and after a period of preservation. The kernel also boasts a peculiar quality: unlike other types of walnut, it can be easily extracted whole, which makes it popular with the confectionery industry.
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Pomodoro di Sorrento (Tomato of Sorrento)
This large, round, ribbed eating tomato is light red in colour, verging on pink with green hues when harvested, it is very fleshy and firm and has a sweet, delicate flavour. Today the main production area of the Sorrento tomato coincides with its native land and is a limited hilly area on the Sorrento peninsula, in the communes of Piano di Sorrento and S. Agnello. It is these farms that have reproduced the "Sorrento ecotype", which was probably derived by selection from the "Cuore di bue" or "bull's heart" tomato (so-called due to its shape).According to others however, the cultivation of this variety was developed at the beginning of the twentieth century, when the Sorrento shipowners, who shipped lemons to the Americas, imported the seed directly from the New World.
Since the beginning of the nineties, when demand increased, this tomato has also been grown in limited areas of plains in the communes near Vesuvius, such as Gragnano, Boscoreale and Torre Annunziata (though the tomato has slightly different pomological and organoleptic characteristics to the Sorrento tomato grown in the traditional production area). The Sorrento tomato owes some of its success to the famous Caprese salad, the classic dish of tomatoes, basil and local fiordilatte cheese (mozzarella) from the Lattari Mountains. The renewed and considerable interest that this product has raised with local vegetable farmers has lead to the setting up of a promotional committee to apply for the IGP brand (Protected Geographical Indication).
- Food and Dining
Limoncello is made and sold all over Sorrento and comes in a wide array of bottles of different shapes and sizes. most places have there own recipes and in quite a few shops you can see the vats were it is being made. it is quite easy to make as long as you have the room to store it. This is a simple recipe..
6 Lemons (unwaxed)
1 Litre of 95% Alcohol (you can use a strong Vodka or Grapa instead)
1 Litre of water
700g of Sugar
Wash the lemons and peel them taking care to cut only the yellow part of the rind and remove the white part.
Place the yellow rind into a large glass jar (must be able to hold over 2 litres) with the Alcohol and allow to stand for about 10 days.
After the 10 days boil the water with the sugar for about 5 minutes and allow to cool (it will be like a syrup) then add it to the jar with the Lemon peel and alcohol.
After 7 to 10 days pour the liquid through a strainer and put it into bottles.
It is best drank with lots of ice
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