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Adventures in Italia, part due!

The second half of our Italy trip is now well underway. We have been so busy I’ve barely had a chance to take a breath, much less to sit down and write. We are staying in Massa Lubrense, a small town south of Naples on the Amalfi Coast. It is centrally located and off the beaten path, so it is perfect for us and far less tourist-y than other nearby areas, like Sorrento.

Our Luggage Strikes Back

During the four-hour train ride from where we were staying at the yoga retreat outside of Salento into Naples, we cursed ourselves for bringing so much luggage. We were forced to pile it up between our seats for the train ride to the point we couldn’t even see each other or sit comfortably. At one point E cried out, “where is mommy?!” I peaked my head over and responded so he could see i was sitting directly across from him.

I couldn’t help but be amused by our predicament: the first part of our trip all we wanted was our luggage after it was lost by the airline and now we wished we didn’t have it at all. I noticed how quickly we forget and succumb to the mental game of lamenting our situation; whether the situation is not having the luggage or having too much luggage doesn’t seem to matter. Our minds like to find something to bitch about.

Our Fabulous Villa

The luggage dilemma was quickly over and we made it to our villa, luggage and all. Our villa may be the most amazing place I have ever seen. It is gigantic; and the view is spectacular. We are up high on the cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea:

When we first got here it took me more than a day to get my bearings in the house. There are hidden terraces, a secret bathroom cave, artifacts, curios, knick-knacks and antique furniture around every corner. There is also a perfect room for our yoga practice; its upstairs on the third floor with an attached terrace overlooking the sea. The room has a distinct resonance different from the rest of the house, and feels like it vibrates after our morning practice sessions.Just down the street there is an authentic local market with fresh smoked mozzarella stuffed with olives and peppers, countless other cheeses; fresh fruits like strawberries, cherries, apples, plums, watermelon, cantaloupe; beautiful home-grown vegetables; fragrant herbs; and local wine for 4 euros a bottle.

Eat, Eat, Eat

Up the road there is a little restaurant with the most amazing antipasto. We’ve eaten there twice already. The first time Rob and I went alone. The waiter speaks no English and didn’t give us a menu. He started talking to us in fast Italian and all we could make out was “antipasto.” We nodded our heads and said, “Si.”

First came a plate of bruschetta and I looked at Rob and said, “could this be it for the antipasto?” Before I could get the words out if my mouth, two large plates were placed on our table – one filled with fresh octopus and the other with squid combined with walnuts, cilantro and celery. I think in my whole life to date I’ve eaten less squid or octopus than I have this week. They are my new favorite foods; the seafood here is so fresh and delicious.

After we dove into the squid and octopus platters, assuming that must be it for the antipasto, out came an enormous plate of fried Italian specialties – arancinis (which are large fried balls stuffed with rice and cheese), fried potato-cheese-and-prosciutto-stuffed-thingys, along with bread-crumby fried eggplant deliciousness. Then came an assortment of smoky vegetables – zucchini, peppers, butternut squash, green beans and more. Last came two giant hunks of mozzarella topped with prosciutto. It was never-ending and only 12 euros each. I forgot to mention the wine – I asked for “vino” and again the waiter muttered something in fast Italian and I nodded. I guess I ordered the large because we got nearly a gallon of red table wine delivered to our table. It was heaven – rich and slightly sweet on the tongue.

We went back again the night before last and ordered the antipasto again, this time feeling like we knew what we were doing. (Sort of). The antipasto was similar to our first experience but this time it came with indescribably-delicious fresh mussels instead of prosciutto and mozzarella. We decided that agreeing with whatever our fast-talking waiter suggested worked the first time, so why mess with success? In addition to the antipasto he brought us house-made flat pasta with clams and mussels that was divinity on a plate. We followed that with cannolis and cake for dessert and a drink he called “limocini” – not to be confused with limoncello (he corrected us when we suggested it was limoncello) – which is apparently homemade as well. From what we understood, it was grain alcohol with lime and one sip of it made my lips numb. Here is a picture of our antipasto:

It would be an understatement to say that I am eating the best food of my life.

Liz Gilbert’s “Eat” portion of “Eat, Pray, Love” is no joke. Italy is fabulous for food.

So far, from our home base in Massa Lubrense we have traveled to Sorrento, the island of Ischia, Positano and Amalfi. We have eaten our way around each of these places and experienced food like none I’ve experienced before. Oh, and they are each fabulous sites to see, too, of course. I’ve just got a one-track mind.

Still more adventures to come…

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