Amalfi

Love Is All You Need

Friday, January 17th, 2014
Danish actress Trine Dyrholm is irresistible in this "Inner Italian" flick.

Danish actress Trine Dyrholm is irresistible in this “Inner Italian” flick.

Ever on the lookout for “Inner Italian” movies (see my Top Ten), I stumbled upon Love Is All You Need (Sony Pictures Classics) on Netflix. It’s a relatively recent film that must not have made it to my little corner of the world during its theatrical release.

Susanne Bier, the Danish Academy-award winning director for best-foreign language film (2011) In a Better World, made this film with stars Pierce Brosnan and Trine Dyrholm. She shot it on location near Sorrento.

Love Is All You Need is certainly not a masterpiece (how many are?) but Walter and I found its quirkiness, and the charismatic Dyrholm, appealing. Not a typical rom-com, several dark elements colored the narrative.

We responded to the palpable sense of locale and it seemed as if some of the minor characters were locals.

My only serious irritation was from the music. Opening with Dean Martin’s That’s Amore (a song spot-on for Moonstruck, a movie celebrating an Italian American family in Brooklyn) is tone deaf in this context.

A view of Amalfi from a limonceto.

A view of Amalfi from a limonceto.

While I’m not in the business of revealing plot points, I will declare my crush on Danish actress Dyrholm.

Forget Brosnan, I fell in love with her.

When she says, “I can’t imagine existing in a world without lemons,” I found a soulmate.

Brosnan’s lemon grove is a pivotal locale that reminded me of my enchanting stay in a cottage set in a citrus grove above Amalfi.

Love, and lemons, are all I need.

What “Inner Italian” movie do you like?

The Inner Italian Q & A: Linda Dini Jenkins

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

One in an occasional series of conversations with those who try to “live Italian” wherever they are.

"La Principessa" in Perugia

Linda Dini Jenkins is a freelance travel writer and photographer and the author of Up at the Villa: Travels with my Husband (more later on how to win a free copy!). She also blogs regularly about travel and travel writing at Travel the Write Way and teaches creative writing and journaling. She enjoys taking small groups of friends, to explore what Italy has to offer beyond the Florence-Venice-Rome triumvirate, and she can pack her suitcase in 15 minutes.

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Q: Living “Italian”. . . Is it a great way to live or the greatest way to live?
A: Well, I think it’s the greatest way to live. When you take into account the slower pace of life (outside the big cities!), the immersion in history and art, the fantastic cuisine, the love of design and music, the respect for taking time out to enjoy the simple things . . . whether it’s Italian or Mediterranean or European, it’s how I want to live.

Q: Why?
A: Are you kidding? Start with the food, the design sensibilities, the language, the arts, the vino, the pausa, the passeggiata . . . need I go on?

Q: When did you discover your Inner Italian? What is your Inner Italian named?
A: I always knew about my Inner Italian but, like other children of first-generation Italian-Americans who desperately wanted to assimilate, “being Italian” was something that just happened and was never really encouraged. In fact, I’d heard stories growing up of how hard it was for my father to be Italian in a New York suburb in the 1930s and ‘40s; even being Italian in my first job in New York in the 1970s was something of a liability. And I was always a little ashamed after that of being part Italian (my mother’s side of the family was English/Irish/German) until I met my husband and he took me to Italy in 2000. Since then, I have been a proud and vocal Italian-American. If my Inner Italian has a name and it needs to be something other than Linda, I suppose it’s Principessa . . .

Q: What does “living Italian” mean to you?
A: My grandparents came over from Italy in the late 1890s and they were anything but rich. So for me, living Italian has to do with cooking and eating together, always having crusty bread and wrinkled olives and green olive oil on the flowered oilcloth-covered table. It means not being afraid to be emotional—even if that involves fists and things flying when you’re angry. It means loving music and feeling the arts very deeply. It means trying to have a sense of style—of la bella figura—even if the clothes or table settings come from Target. And it means being a storyteller and a traveler and something of an adventurer.

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Brides of Amalfi

Friday, November 19th, 2010

Love was in the air during my visit to the Amalfi Coast.

I couldn’t go anywhere without running into a couple of married newbies.

Our first bride is pretty in parasol, descending the stairs in Ravello.

The Amalfi Coast does a big business in destination weddings although I sensed that at least one couple, possibly two, were locals.  Either way, to be married in Italy is a blessing forever.

Our second bride after exiting the bronze doors of Il Duomo di Ravello.

I realize “Brides of Amalfi” doesn’t do justice to the grooms involved (auguri, guys!) but I  couldn’t imagine entitling this post otherwise.

Our third bride is high-stepping it through Piazza Duomo in Amalfi.

Blame it on those gowns! Seeing a lovely woman frothed in a neck-to-toe meringue is a site you simply cannot ignore.

Our fourth bride on the red carpet at Chiesa Santa Maria Assunta in Positano.

Were you married in Italy or attended a wedding there? What was the experience like? Share your story here.

Pasticceria Sal de Riso

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Pastry Chef Salvatore de Riso is as big a celebrity in Italy as Emeril LaGasse is in the U.S. He is a regular on the popular RAI Uno cooking contest program Prova del Cuoco and has authored several cookbooks.

De Riso’s principal pasticceria is on the main square of Minori on the Amalfi Coast. Pleased to find myself in Minori recently, I visited the De Riso shop in hopes of meeting the great chef. Sadly, he wasn’t there—but his signature Ricotta e Pere (ricotta and pears) torta was. My sweet consolation was whipped sweetened local ricotta with cubes of Williams pears encased in a hazelnut crumb cake. Sublime!

I did meet Salvatore’s brother Alessandro who told me that he and Sal grew up in a family of gelato makers in Minori. As a young chef, Sal apprenticed in some fine hotel kitchens on the Coast before opening his first pastry shop in 2000. His success was rapid and phenomenal.

De Riso operates a production center in Tramonti, in the hills above the coast, and other retail shops in the Campania region, Rome and, improbably, St. Petersburg, Russia.

The 44-year-old de Riso has seemingly more awards and commendations than Italy has churches. Among them: He was the first pasticciere from southern Italy to be admitted to the Accademia Maestri Pasticceri Italinai and, just this month, the group named him Best Pastry Chef of the Year, during its XVII Symposium in Brescia.

Next time you find yourself in Minori, sample la dolce vita with de Riso.

Alessandro de Riso is an ambassador for the sweet life.

Pasticceria De Riso

Piazza Cantilena 1

Minori

(39) 089 853618

Salerno On My Mind

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Question: What’s wrong with this picture?

Answer: Absolutely nothing!

I snapped this beauty from the terrazza of the Hotel Il San Pietro di Positano, a Relais & Chateaux property named one of the best hotels in the world by the readers of Condé Nast Traveler.

I was with a group of travel professionals and writers touring the hotel during a recent certification program hosted by the province of Salerno, which occupies about half of the region of Campania. The Italian Government Tourist Board North America (ENIT) and Alitalia Airlines were also sponsors.

In three action packed days, our Salerno hosts treated us to some hidden gems. They’re working hard to expand awareness of Salerno’s offerings, the best known of which are the towns clinging to the Amalfi Coast.

The Villa Cimbrone Hotel in Ravello.

Salerno is the Amalfi but a lot more as well. It is the mountains north of the coast that divide costiera d’amalfi from Naples and also the large area south of the city of Salerno. This includes the incomparable Greek ruins at Paestum, plenty of beaches, and the wild beauty of the Cilento national park.

In my upcoming posts, I’ll share some tastes and sights of Salerno province where new doors were opened for me.

Twin portals in Positano.

Cruising the Cilento coast south of Salerno.

Castello Arechi standing guard above the city of Salerno.

A musician in the town of Minori.

A seafood feast at the King's Residence Hotel in Palinuro.

Two gentlemen on the steps of the Duomo in the town of Amalfi.

I stayed for a few days in "Lemon Heaven" overlooking the town of Amalfi.

Portside in Amalfi.

Gladiator girl gearing for conquest.

Taking a little rest in Ravello.

Have you visited Salerno?

What destination spoke to you?