A gem in an authentic Italian mountain hamlet

“Italy is a dream that keeps returning for the rest of your life” – Anna Akhmatova

Choosing a favourite part of Italy is almost impossible

We’ve visited the northern lakes of Lombardy; the north-eastern glories of Venice; awesome Tuscany and Florence; the southern Amalfi Coast; the Italian Riviera; the Isle of Capri; the Emila-Romagna region of Northern Italy; ancient Rome and the Vatican City – to name just a few.

Each is a treasure in its own right.

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Courtyard view

However, one of our favourites is Tramonti, a collection of 13 hamlets scattered among the rugged hills above the Amalfi Coast.

These hamlets largely retain a traditional Italian way of life. Here you’ll find vineyards, chestnut woods, olive trees, grazing sheep and scented lemon groves, set in a stunning landscape just eight kilometers from the sea.

Tramonti’s communities offer a buffer from the crowded Amalfi Coast and a glimpse of rural life just a short distance from hectic tourist resorts.

Regional products like Limonchello, the area’s famous liqueur; home-made cheeses, jams and pastries and other specialty foods are still produced there.

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Church Paterno Sant’Arcangelo

In one of the hilltop hamlets, we were introduced to Casa Cavo 15, a 200-year-old olive farm.

Perched on a steep mountainside, this charming house – the word Casa means ‘at home’ in Italian – is an ideal way to immerse yourself in traditional atmosphere largely untouched by today’s mass tourism.

We love the authentic Italian experience – and now you can too.

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Traditional terraced Italian gardens

Casa Cavo 15 is located in Paterno Sant’Arcangelo, a quiet and unpretentious hamlet, where gardens stagger up the hillsides, bursting with vegetables and citrus trees.

Traditional in every sense of the word, Paterno Sant’Archangelo is like a step back in time, with a clutch of narrow streets, the scent of flowers and plants and terraced hillsides.

And all around is the breath-taking majesty of the Lattari Mountains.

There is a small grocery shop in the hamlet – and only seven kilometres away through the mountains is the coastal town of Maiori with its retail facilities.

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Authentic Italian lifestyle

Casa Cavo 15 has been renovated to provide you with today’s conveniences.

On the top floor, the house has two standard double bedrooms – one with air conditioning – and a third room where mattresses can be placed on the floor if needed.

The authentic Italian feel continues down the stone steps to the ground floor where there is a big dining kitchen with an old fireplace and a table capable of seating about 12 people.

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The kitchen

Modern facilities to allow self-sufficiency include a cooker, oven, kettle, dishwasher, crockery and cutlery, utensils, drying rack and washing machine.

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The library

We were able to can relax on the sofa and watch TV, browse the Internet on the free wifi or take in the panoramic mountain views from the cosy courtyard under its spreading lemon trees.

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Relaxing and rustic courtyard

This courtyard is a wonderful space; shady and comfortable with an awe-inspiring view over the hamlet, gardens and across the mountains.

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Stunning mountain view

Studio flat

As an added attraction, the top floor of Casa Cavo 15 can be configured to offer a self-contained studio flat, with its own entrance from the garden; a kitchenette; bathroom and incorporating one of the bedrooms.

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A double bed

Behind the house, there are sweeping terraced areas and walking trails where you can either explore or just relax beneath the trees.

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Second room with a double bed

Casa Cavo 15’s location in a traditional mountain hamlet with narrow streets means that only tiny vehicles can drive to the front door.

Most guests park on the ancient street and then walk about 50 metres – including a section of very steep stone steps. For this reason, there is no real disabled access.

Exploring the mountain hamlets and coastal resorts requires a car. For example, the nearest supermarket is on the coast at Maiori, where there are also restaurants, beaches, playgrounds and other shops.

Maiori has been a coastal resort since ancient Roman times and boasts the longest stretch of beach on the Amalfi Coast

The house is also about 50 kilometres from the city of Naples and its airport.

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Room with a view ….. but most have!

Annette, the delightful Danish owner of Casa Cavo 15, lives only about 30 minutes from the house and couldn’t have been more helpful.

With her guidance, we were able to feel part of the community when we attended celebrations to mark the Feast Day of the village patron, Saint Michael the Archangel.

Enjoying Italian life

And, judging by the comments of previous visitors in the Guest Book, we certainly weren’t the first to enjoy the Italian way of living; Annette’s friendly hospitality and crucial advice; and revel in the more traditional values and lifestyle of the mountain hamlets – while within easy reach of the Amalfi Coast.

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Grand entrance

Casa Cavo 15 is normally let for holidays during the summer months between May and November. The rent is 2,500 Danish kroner (about 335 Euros depending on exchange rates) a week, plus an 80 Euro cleaning fee.

Annette is prepared to talk to prospective tenants during other months, but even in such a beautiful part of the planet, winter tends to dampen spirits.

If you are interested, Annette can be contacted by email at casacavo@ohl.dk.

Tramonti

Limoncello: nectar of a wonderful land

Italy’s magnificent Sorrentine peninsula, Amalfi Coast and Isle of Capri are some of the most beautiful places on earth.

With astonishing scenery; picture-postcard towns and villages; and a gentle laid-back lifestyle, this part of the Campania region of southern Italy is largely unspoilt, despite its appeal to travellers.

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And, in recent years, the area has also become well known for Limoncello, a locally-produced lemon liquer whose fame has quickly spread around the world.

On our last visit to Campania, we sampled Limoncello before and after meals and were told that, traditionally, it was made from the zest of the Femminello St. Teresa lemon – also known as Sorrento or Sfusato lemon.

Put simply, lemon zest, or peels without the pith, is enriched by water, alcohol, sugar and syrup.

The process takes about three months and we were told that varying the sugar-to-water ratio and the temperature affects the clarity and flavor.

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A popular ingredient in cocktails, Limoncello gives a strong lemon flavor without the sourness or bitterness of pure lemon juice.

In typical Italian fashion, there seems to be a debate about the origin of the popular liquer, depending on who you ask – and where.

We were told that Limoncello was first made about 1900 on the Isle of Capri, that jewel of an island much beloved by the rich and famous.

However, ask that same question on the Amalfi Coast, and you are likely to hear that the liquer is actually much older – possibly first used by fishermen to fortify themselves against the cold.

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Yet others, are convinced that the recipe was actually born inside a monastic convent.

But, regardless of Limoncello’s origins, sales of the liquor – with its unique taste and the aroma – has grown like Topsy.

It is is also produced in Sicily; Sardinia; the Maltese island of Gozo; several other places in Italy; and even in France and the United States.

Limoncello is the second most popular liquer in Italy and is also a big seller in the US; Canada; the United Kingdom; Australia and New Zealand, to name a just a few areas.

We were told that the lemons of southern Italy are particularly good for making Limoncello, because the Mediterranean climate produces fruit with a thick and colourful skin.

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So …. do we recommend Limoncello? Without hesitation.

And, for us, the liquer is just another reason to visit a particularly stunning part of the planet.
Photo attributions: Lemons courtesy Wikimedia Commons photo by user BigFan; homemade Limoncello courtesy Wikimedia Commons photo by user Alejo2083.

Amalfi Coast Tramonti