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Campania & Amalfi Coast Two wonderful weeks in Massa Lubrense

Thursday, May 1 – A NATIONAL HOLIDAY​

Around noon we hiked to Annunziata and Santa Maria then back to Massa. It was nice except for the part where Michael took the wrong path and we ended up walking through briars and on a narrow rock shelf. Fortunately there was a wall for me to hang on to. When we finally got on the right path we watched a farmer chasing geese out of his garden just above the rock ledge. It was about a three hour hike and after having caffe and pastry at our favorite Gourmet Bar we went on home and rested. It was very warm.

Bob and Alice wanted to take us to dinner so we walked into town around 7:30 and had a very nice dinner on the terrace at Il Cantuccio, sitting next to the pizza oven. The pizza maestro was a kibbitzer and Bob took a photo with him. We had marinated anchovies, spinach ravioli with smoked mozzerella inside and a seafood sauce (meaning mussels and clams), tender veal scaloppini in lemon and wine and frito misto. For dessert we shared a serving of molten chocolate cake, then walked home in a balmy evening. There were fireflies along the way and sounds of party-goers carrying up from Marina della Lobra.

It is quite idyllic. The terrace doors are open and we can hear the sea. Bugs be damned! I was thinking, as Alice was taking photos at dinner, how nice it is that we are still friends after spending two weeks together. There have been a few rough moments but it's basically been fine. This really has been an excellent time. Massa Lubrense is a great location and Villa Maria (or is it really L'Eden, the name of owner Dott. Scoppa's company) has been worth its high price. It is as though we were the only people here, and indeed we may have been. It is tranquil. We realized tonight that we've only been out for dinner four times in two weeks. We've done a number of lunches out but have been so happy to be here on our own wonderful terrace with it’s beautiful view of Capri that we really didn't want to be anywhere else.

Friday, May 2 – MARKET DAY​

Idyllic, yes, but the mosquitoes were out in full force last night causing sleeplessness. We went to the market at S. Francisco. What a zoo driving up, with the usual parking on both sides of a narrow road and cars trying to go both ways. After a successful parking job we strolled through the market. The main product seemed to be clothes. There was one hilarious display of well-proportioned corsets hanging along the wall. (It had been taken down when we returned, although there were still plenty of girdles and corsets on the sale table.) We were disappointed to not find the usual truck selling our favorite market foods of roasted chickens or potato croquettes.

On to Sorrento to check out the shops, which were nothing exciting. I did buy some spices and a vacuumed packed risotto to try out. I called Ristorante Torre dei Sarcena, a Michelin one star outside of Vico Equense, and made a lunch reservation for 2:00. Time Out says the restaurant is hard to find, and that is an understatement. After two phone calls to the restaurant, three stops to ask for directions, and driving down several wrong roads, we gave up in frustration. Of course at 3:00 when we were on our way home we finally saw the sign to Marina de Equa, but by then it was too late. Got home and ate up some of the leftovers and then packed. We will take Bob and Alice to the train station in Naples and then go on to Spoleto. Bob has been fanatic about consolidating what they have to better manage the train station in Naples. I think he was freaked out by the attempted robbery we saw and the travel agents warning that the Naples train station is full of thieves.

I am watching our final sunset at Villa Maria. I have found it to be so much easier to be in Italy for the second time in two years: the language and customs are easier and there is less general frustration. The guys went to get pizze from Cantucchio and we cooked artichokes. The pizza is sooo good. The crust is light and spongy, not like a cracker but not thick either. Michael said he'd email Mario Battali, his Food Channel kitchen guru, to find out how to make it that way. We had one pizza Margherita and one with mussels and clams that had been put on the pizza crust and baked for a few minutes at the end.

Saturday, May 3 – ONE CHAPTER ENDS...​

Anna came only 15 minutes late, with her daughter, age 20, whom I never saw but Michael said was “pouty but pretty.” She must have been the younger woman that Bob had seen helping Anna with the housekeeping. Other than an unexpected charge of E15 for use of the phone, things went as planned and we got our total security deposit back.

After another incredible car packing arrangement we were off. Arrivederci Villa Maria. It took about an hour and a half to drive to the train station in Naples. We hugged Bob and Alice good-bye and proceeded to get quite lost in a rather unattractive neighborhood near the station. After sweating it out a bit, we found the autostrada and were on our way to Spoleto.

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